El Sistema USA
News & Resources
El Sistema USA has announced that their 2022 National Symposium and Seminario will take place virtually on April 28–30, 2022.
Venezuela’s El Sistema will hold a World Congress of El Sistema on September 28th, 29th, and 30th. The virtual event is designed to foster an exchange of ideas on topics of global relevance for like-spirited programs and projects around the world. The Congress will include discussions, presentations, workshops, and screenings, all with Spanish-English translation. Focal topics will include organizational and pedagogical issues, artistic vision, social impact, research in the field, child and youth protection policies, and fundraising.
Angelica Ivonne Cortez, Interim President and CEO of El Sistema USA
This is a field that can, at times, feel at odds with itself. How can we use orchestral music—a system deeply entrenched in hierarchy, in exclusivity, in elitism, and in a Eurocentric framework—as a means of moving toward equity and social justice? It is difficult to conceptualize the orchestra as a model for equity when there are hierarchal layers—conductor, concertmaster, principals, section players—engrained in the art form.
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.
El Sistema USA has released the theme for their , charging the field to “Connect.Adapt.Thrive!” The event, now in its third year, will be held virtually and will be hosted by the Sistema-inspired program Miami Music Project. It will take place from February 15-19, 2021, and focus on three main areas: Racial Diversity and Cultural Understanding, Musical Excellence during the pandemic, and Team and Family Support pre- and post-pandemic. Requests for session proposals are due December 15. Proposal submissions can be made .
From August 10–14, El Sistema USA and the Collective Conservatory partnered to host the Northeastern Seminario, this time with a special focus on blues music. Eight programs from the Northeast participated in this virtual Seminario, providing the 60 participating young musicians with many opportunities to connect and collaborate. Their week of jamming and improvising together will be presented in a live “Drop Party,” taking place Thursday, October 8, at 7:00 p.m. EDT. Check out ESUSA’s Facebook page for the watch link, which will be accessible after the event as well.
How do you describe your program to funders? What stories do you tell, and how do they affect your students? These were some of the questions explored in a session called “How We Talk about Our Programs: The Stories We Tell Ourselves,” that I facilitated alongside Dr. Tia Harvey of Accent Pontiac at the El Sistema USA Symposium in January 2020.
Hillary Harder, ECoSistema Coordinator, Elkhart County, IN
For the past year, I have enjoyed meeting with a group of educators and administrators from the El Sistema USA community who seek to collectively define “equity.” Our goal is to educate ourselves about big ideas—systemic access barriers, intersectionality and identity, culturally responsive teaching—and articulate what they mean for us. At the core of these conversations is the idea that El Sistema–inspired programs are uniquely positioned to work toward equity. Maestro Abreu paved the way with his vision of universal access and social change through music education; today, in our North American context, the El Sistema-inspired field must engage with the dynamics of race, class, gender, ability, language, and social factors. If we seek to deeply know and empower our students, these conversations are crucial.
Patrick Scafidi, Managing Editor, The Ensemble and The World Ensemble Newsletters
Long before I joined The Ensemble newsletters editorial team a few months ago, I knew about El Sistema. I had read about it, listened to interviews, spoken with people inside the movement. But I hadn’t lived it—had barely seen it up close. I grew up playing jazz and orchestral pieces, but my professional background is as an editor, not a music educator. So I arrived in Durham for the 2020 El Sistema USA Symposium and Seminario expecting to listen to a language I barely understood.
Creative Youth Development (CYD) is a theory of practice integrating creative skill-building, inquiry and expression with positive youth development principles. These principles can fuel young people’s imaginations and assist in building critical learning and life skills.