August Update

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

August Update

08-04-2021

This month, the Ambassadors responded to the prompt: “What’s your favorite place in your city/town?” Read on to learn about their special places.

Momoka Tsuchiya (El Sistema Japan)
Melis Erselçan (Music for Peace Foundation, Turkey)
Matthew Jones (Orchestras for All, U.K.)
Han Diep (Pizzicato Effect, Australia)
Mary Nakacwa (Architects of Music, Uganda)
Pedro Ramos (Harmony Project, California, U.S.)
Hannah Christensen (El Sistema Utah, U.S.)
Stephen Ongoma (Ghetto Classics, Kenya)
Helen Faucher (Moncton Youth Orchestra, Canada)


Momoka Tsuchiya (El Sistema Japan)

The place that remains in my memory is the sea of Sōma. Before the big earthquake in 2011, my family and I used to go to the beach there for swimming and tide-fishing. After the earthquake-caused tsunami, I was not able to visit the beach for several years. Now, though, I can easily go to the beach again. I still go there with my sister; she is a university student and lives far away from me, so it is always a very happy time to go to the beach with her when we meet after a long time apart.


Melis Erselçan (Music for Peace Foundation, Turkey)

My favorite place is Prince Islands. Its air makes one feel free and peaceful. I have a lot of memories there. My friends and I got lost there once, and had fun doing it. We learned about the legend of the old Greek orphanage that burned down. We even performed a concert there once! Best of all, we ate a lot—which is great for me because I love eating haha.


Matthew Jones (Orchestras for All, U.K.)

At university, I always tried to use the same practice room, which many didn’t know was available to be booked. It was one of my few guilty pleasures of university, spending hours a day in a room that rarely got used (nerdy, I know). The room held a variety of old keyboards (which I dared not touch) packed into a small area, and most of the music stands that got left there were completely broken, but it felt like it was my own little space!

While at university, I also studied in the same computer cluster for two years straight. It was rarely quiet, but I thrived in the distractions and among the many characters I got to meet. On deadline days I got to witness carnage around the photocopiers—every time, without fail—and kept updated on the geekiest jokes of the year with the cluster’s “meme wall.”


Han Diep (Pizzicato Effect, Australia)

My favorite place in Melbourne has to be Melbourne Central, a five-level shopping center located in the Central Business District (CBD). Many people visit it as it is home to over 300 retailers. In the center of the shopping center is a tower called the Shot Tower, which has a museum inside. Whenever I go out with friends, this place is always on our to-go list, mainly because it sells a variety of foods from many different cultures.


Mary Nakacwa (Architects of Music, Uganda)

One of my favorite places is Entebbe at Freedom City. It was the first place that my parents took me after I performed well on my primary leaving exams, and I enjoyed it so so much. I also like Munyonyo—there is a beach where we always go on Christmas Day, and I have so much fun with my friends there. Then, on December 31, I always spend my night in Wakiso at church. It is more fun entering a new year with God.


Pedro Ramos (Harmony Project, California, U.S.)

East Los Angeles is a vibrant and hidden gem. Although it does not have the beaches or touristy sites of West L.A., East L.A. has a rich community thanks to the strong Mexican presence in the city. You can find plazas that sell typical Mexican candy and clothes, underrated restaurants in the L.A. food scene, and many music clubs to have fun and dance.

Notable in East Los Angeles’ Mexican culture is the prevalence of Banda music. Bandas are ensembles of Mexican wind and percussion musicians who play music unique to their regions of origin. Bandas are many local students’ first exposure to music, often inspiring them to play music in school or in programs like the Harmony Project. It’s always wonderful to see these community musicians go far into their careers and feel proud of their roots.


Hannah Christensen (El Sistema Utah, U.S.)

In this fast-paced world, my favorite place to go is out in nature. Whether it be on a walk around my neighborhood or at the park down the street, I find that spending time outside helps ground me. Taking time for fresh air every single day helps me relax and realize that there is more to life than getting good grades in school or working on my hobbies.

It is currently summertime here in Utah, and during the day I love to sit in the shade and listen to the songs of the birds while butterflies and bumblebees fly around. This helps me stay calm as I finish up my work for the day. But my favorite thing to do is sit outside and watch the sunset as I read a book or play the ukulele. Not only is it a beautiful sight, but I get to do something I love and find relaxing while being outside in this beautiful world.


Stephen Ongoma (Ghetto Classics, Kenya)

My favorite place to go is a town called Mogotio in Nakuru, Kenya, where the equator passes through. One side of the town lies in the Northern Hemisphere while the other lies in the Southern Hemisphere, which gives the place a really unique feel. You can really experience the change of atmosphere when cycling or walking across the line, and it is really moving.


Helen Faucher (Moncton Youth Orchestra, Canada)

I’ve always felt a strong attachment to the Caissie Cape beach in my hometown. In the noisy chaos of life, its cooling water and gentle waves have always been there to soothe me as I contemplate my problems. I could sit in the sand for hours, eating the strawberries we got from the market on the way, and listen to the sounds of life around me.

Change has always been scary to me. But when I think about the hermit crabs, and how they must change their shells continuously, I’m reminded that change is just a part of life and should be embraced. When a jellyfish is injured, it can reorganize existing limbs to become symmetrical again. In other words, it makes do with what it has left.

The ocean and its creatures always amaze me with their resilience, beauty, and strength to move onward.

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