The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
News & Resources
Austin Soundwaves (Austin, TX) has been awarded a grant from the National Guild for Community Arts Education to fund their aging-cohort pilot program Mariachi ParaTodos (Mariachi for All).
The fifth annual El Sistema Academy will happen online on January 30 and 31 and is free to all. El Sistema educators and colleagues across the globe will convene to discuss this year’s theme, “Motivation”—motivating students, teams, audiences, and more. Registration closes on January 27. Use this Google Form to register for this year’s session, and learn more about last year’s Academy in this 2019 World Ensemble post.
There is a meeting place for future leaders in our field. Presented by Creative Generation, the Young and Emerging Leaders Forum is a gathering for “young scholars, emerging leaders, and new colleagues to the field of arts education.” The Forum creates a space to share work, participate in shared learning, and cultivate “leadership pipelines” for the global arts field. There are multiple participatory sessions in the series that started in December and will end in June 2021. If you or a colleague is 35 or under, or within the first five years of your career, consider signing up for the upcoming session on February 4 via Creative Generation.
The Abreu Chamber Choir (ACC) is a vocal group formed by young Venezuelan singers who grew up in El Sistema programs but are currently residing in several countries in Europe. The group was founded because of a desire to return to making music with colleagues and friends. We have organized a number of concerts, collaborative learning days, and training workshops for young singers and conductors, continuing the legacy and visionary teachings of Maestro José Antonio Abreu.
John Minnaar, teacher and conductor, Maseru Preparatory School
The story of music education as a catalyst for social change in South Africa and Lesotho is long and complicated. The history of human struggle and social unrest in southern Africa is well documented, but it gave birth to a new era of growth and potential for its people. One might say that in the wake of South Africa’s newfound freedom from Apartheid, democracy opened many doors to Black South Africans. Within that greater context, I share my own musical journey as a snapshot of three decades of music, equity, and opportunity in South Africa and Lesotho.
This past summer, the evening that Play On Philly (POP) presented its virtual showcase concert happened to mark the ten-year anniversary of our decision to launch the program. As I sat at my laptop watching, I felt sad not to be celebrating that milestone in person with my POP family. But I also felt gratitude as I reflected on how our community has supported each other since the day we started. We have always embraced the El Sistema philosophy and encouraged our students and teachers to reach for levels of learning and engagement we know are possible to achieve.
Libby O’Neil, Co-Founder and Executive Director, East Lake Expression Engine
East Lake Expression Engine (ELEE), which began in 2014, serves the East Lake neighborhood of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We usually serve 75 to 100 kids each semester. Our program meets in a church that is conveniently located between the elementary and middle schools that serve our neighborhood. East Lake is wonderfully walkable; our staff members walk to the elementary school to pick up our students there, and our middle and high school students walk to us. Several of our staff members live in the neighborhood. This has long provided us with daily opportunities for casual, neighborly relationships with our students’ families. During 2020, that proximity has been invaluable.
The YOLA National Festival has opened its audition portal for its July 2021 orchestral training program. Open to students from all Sistema-inspired programs; students ages 12–18 are encouraged to apply for one of the two ensembles, the Symphony Orchestra (ages 14–18) or the Chamber Orchestra (ages 12–14). The intensive experience is tentatively scheduled to take place in person in Southern California, but an official update on in-person vs. virtual programming options will be shared no later than April 1. Applications are due March 1 and recommendation letters are due March 8.
Do you have useful definitions of mentorship that are not solely based on age, title, or perceived level of expertise? Creative Generation will publish a series of papers that disrupt and interrogate long-held ideas of mentorship—promoting youth-centered, multilateral, intergenerational, and/or cyclical mentorship models in arts and cultural education.
Verenice Velazquez, Program Participant, Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy
“Hey, Verenice! We are taking a bus with Linda to Sonora—we’d like you to join us with your fiddle.” I was in my third year at UC San Diego when Eugene Rodriguez, Founder and Director of Los Cenzontles, called me with an invitation to take a very special trip. Just a few months later, I was on a bus to Sonora, Mexico with Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, several Cenzontles, and many more family and friends, embarking on a musical journey that was filmed to create Linda and the Mockingbirds.