The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.


Expanding Musical Opportunities for Children

Yutaka Kikugawa, Founder and Executive Director, El Sistema Japan

It’s been a decade since we launched the first El Sistema–inspired program in Japan, in the city of Soma, Fukushima Province. Our goal was to offer support, community, and dignity to the children affected by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear accident. Our vision statement at that time was: “Community regenerated by children with life skills through music.”

Since then, we’ve learned a great deal about the needs of the children we serve and the primary outcomes we want to be aiming at. Accordingly, we’ve reshaped the vision statement as follows: “Collaborative society where everyone can be free and creative.”


(Re)Understanding Creativity

Betsaleel “Bets” Charmelus, CEO, ArtistYear

It’s easy for us, as teaching artists, to believe that all humans can access creativity. As the leader of ArtistYear and a practicing teaching artist myself, I understand the inclination. Any notion suggesting otherwise seems to challenge fundamental beliefs about our purpose—if there are people who can’t access creativity, then a place exists where teaching artistry is rendered ineffective. With this line of thinking, however, some nuance in the conversation is lost.


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