Sharing Peace with a Piece

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

Sharing Peace with a Piece

Amelie Jansen (New Zealand), Melis Erselçan (Turkey), and Nicolas Lau (U.S.), 2022 Ensemble Ambassadors


Ambassador Molly (Myanmar) and her sister play the Burmese harp during a recent Zoom meet-up.

Editor’s Note: This year, our Ambassador cohort has been collaborating with The Young Leaders of El Sistema Greece on an original composition. Over the past month, the Young Leaders have been sharing their compositional knowledge with the Ambassadors, who have since begun working on their own musical opus. In this article, a few of our cohort members chronicle the early stages of that process; if you’re looking for the regularly scheduled Ambassador Updates, you can find them here.

Right now, The Ambassadors are in the process of composing our own original piece. To get started, we watched videos about composition shared by El Sistema Greece’s Young Leaders and their Musical Director, José Ángel Salazar Marín. After thinking about and discussing their composition process, we began coming up with our own ideas.

Anyone reading this is likely aware of the devastating conflict in Eastern Europe. This is a saddening situation, and our prayers are with those who have any connection to it. During our first brainstorming meeting, one Ambassador suggested that we make “war” a theme in our piece. Everyone agreed that this was a good idea given the current situation in the world. We want to create a piece that sings, “We don’t want war and greed.” We want peace. In that spirit, our piece is a symbol of solidarity with those who are living through war in their home countries. War has ravaged many nations, including places where fellow Ambassadors live.

After we decided on the theme, we started composing. Since our theme is war, we wanted to begin with a battle scene; to do that, we separated the composition into distinct parts. We want to surprise you with the finished product, so we won’t reveal the contents of each part—but we’re especially curious how people will react to what we are trying to convey. At this point, we have basically agreed on elements like rhythm, tone, and instrumentation. It wasn’t easy, but there are a lot of talented people in the cohort. It’s fun and rewarding to create things that have meaning, and we’re sure that the group is going to do a good job of it.

Maybe the most important part of the composition process is including everyone’s ideas. It’s very hard to make group decisions, but our level of cooperation and musicianship should make it somewhat easier. Because we only meet online, sharing tunes and musical ideas is a lot more difficult than it should be. We all play a variety of instruments and want to make sure each one is incorporated in the finished piece. We believe this will make the composition more whole and more authentic—and after all, working together and welcoming different voices are essential if we are to stop war.

Wish us luck as we continue to work on our piece!


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