The Ambassadors at the El Sistema USA 2021 National Symposium & Seminario!
The WE Ambassadors were recently invited to participate in the El Sistema USA 2021 National Symposium and Seminario. They participated in various events and hosted their own panel discussion on “The Magic of Music Mentoring Around the World.” For the panel, they filmed videos of themselves proudly talking about their musical programs. Here is what they had to say about the experience.
Helen Faucher, Moncton Youth Orchestra (Canada)
I always forget the time and effort it takes to make a captivating and cohesive video—until I’m doing it, of course! The video [for the panel discussion] proved to be quite challenging for me, in terms of not running out of breath, remembering my lines, and, overall, trying to convey the benefits and passions of my program. My desire to do well by my program led me to do several takes, and I began to falter toward the end. Ultimately, I believe my video came out quite well, but I hope next time to loosen up more and show more of my true personality instead of trying to be overly professional.
Melis Erselcan, Music for Peace Foundation (Turkey)
It has been a really enjoyable and exciting process for me! I met a lot of valued people all around the world. I’m really happy and proud to be part of this project and represent my foundation.
When it comes to the Symposium, I joined two projects: [playing the piece] “What We Will Be” and the panel discussion on “Mentoring Around the World.” The “What We Will Be” recording was a little challenging because I had never recorded such a long video by myself before. But it was fun too. The song is angelic and meaningful; I won’t even begin to talk about its harmony!
The panel discussion was really fun. I love talking about my foundation and our projects, and it was really nice to talk about opinions and feelings. Aside from my contribution, I enjoyed listening to the other Ambassadors’ conversations. Everybody has their own inspiring story. Every time I talk with them, my feelings and thoughts change in a positive way. After we watched our videos, we moved to Zoom for a Q&A session. There were a lot of valued people there and I felt a bit nervous. We Ambassadors introduced ourselves quickly. The guests asked their questions and we answered in order. Toward the end, our guests shared their good feedback in the chat box, and I was touched by what they said. It was pretty impressive. Thank you to all the attendees and speakers.
Stephen Ongoma, Ghetto Classics (Kenya)
Getting the opportunity to share ideas and answer questions during the Symposium as an Ambassador was one of those moments I have put into my records. The feeling was amazing—as always, it was evident that art and music are here to connect us, to help us express our thoughts out loud to others, and to bring change to our society.
Momoka Tsuchiya, El Sistema Japan
I was very happy to learn about the programs in different countries and to be able to play music with people from all over the world [in the “What We Will Be” performance] during such a difficult situation.
I could not participate in the Symposium in real time due to time conflicts in Japan, but I had a great time.
Han Diep, Pizzicato Effect (Australia)
The experience with the USA Symposium was new yet very enjoyable for me. I participated in the process of recording the piece “What We Will Be.” The experience was a very fun challenge as I have never recorded something like this by myself before. With that being said, I really love the piece. The melody is heavenly and beautiful and the lyrics are really meaningful. I also got a chance to represent and talk a bit about my program in the panel discussion on “Mentoring Around the World.” I’m proud and grateful to be given an opportunity to introduce my program to others.
Overall, I’m happy and thankful to be part of a big project like this and will be more than happy to participate again if given the chance.
Mary Nakacwa, Architects of Music (Uganda)
I have learned a lot from the program—getting to know new friends, different kinds of music played around the world, and much more. I thank all the World Ensemble Ambassadors and administrators for their leadership. And I thank Axelle in particular for tirelessly coordinating us whenever we are needed to participate.
Pedro Ramos, Harmony Project (California, USA)
I had the wonderful privilege of interviewing Joseph Conyers as part of the El Sistema USA 2021 National Symposium and Seminario. Joseph Conyers is the Assistant Principal Bass at the Philadelphia Orchestra, Executive Director of Project 440, Music Director of the Philadelphia All-City Orchestra, and more.
Much of the conversation centered on the uniqueness of Project 440. As Mr. Conyers told me, Project 440 is a non-music program run by a musician. It utilizes the passion students might find in music to jump-start conversations about leadership and entrepreneurship. This is unlike many other programs that do their best to primarily emphasize the art form. However, Mr. Conyers believes that music should be a byproduct of students’ growth. While music is important as a source of passion, leadership training is what opens up the possibility of changing communities.
This interview came at a critical time in my growth as a music educator. I always knew that music had the power to transcend, but Mr. Conyers sharing the vision behind Project 440 helped me articulate the connection between my passion for music and my passion for serving others. As music is fundamental to my humanity, I found myself with a larger concern for inequities. Being uplifted through music has inspired me to involve myself in larger conversations concerning the injustices of my community and world.