El Sistema

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

Methods Change, but Community Drives Our Field Forward


If music is the universal language that brings people together, one would assume that this truth would hold for music education as well. But often, unfortunately, our field can pull people apart into seemingly oppositional camps. Over the course of my career as an arts education leader, I have witnessed many of these schisms, as well as their resolutions. I’d like to share three such dichotomies here.

What is music education for?

Side by Side Celebrates Ten Years of Music with New Documentary


“As the world falls apart, these children unite it through music.” These are the opening remarks from El Sistema maestro Gustavo Dudamel in Side by Side’s new documentary, celebrating over ten years of collective music-making.

Expanding Musical Opportunities for Children


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.”

El Sistema Toronto Youth Sing Their Truth


El Sistema Toronto students teamed up with award-winning Indigenous hip hop artist Cody Coyote and Juno-nominated Toronto rapper Saukrates to write and record “WAY: We Are Young,” a song that captures both the hopefulness and vulnerability of young people who are coming of age in a rapidly changing world.

New Music and Arts in Action Issue Looks Back to Move Forward


We always champion the social impact of orchestral programs serving youth around the world, and part of that advocacy is a need to self-reflect and revisit our ideas with fresh eyes. To that end, the latest issue of Music and Arts in Action is worth a read.

From Music Rooms to Policy Meetings: Taking Lessons from a Life in Music


In my first Ensemble editorial, I wrote about how opportunities within classical music allowed me to bypass barriers caused by economic inequality in the Philippines. But this unequal distribution of resources still bothers me today, which is why I’m studying political science and hoping to go into policy research after graduation.

With just one year to go at college, I’ve been reflecting on the ways my musical training has influenced how I approach the social sciences

El Sistema Returns to the United Nations to Pay Tribute to Maestro Abreu


The National Children’s Symphony of Venezuela returned to Geneva this past April for a special performance at United Nations Headquarters, marking almost a decade since the visit of El Sistema founder Maestro José Antonio Abreu.

The Ambassadors’ Exchange: May Happenings


This month, the Ambassadors were asked to explore their daily lives in their programs. Our most recent entry explores ideas such as: 1) their daily routines outside of rehearsal; 2) what their rehearsal settings look and feel like; and 3) their relationships with their colleagues/instructors. We hope to share different slices of life from different corners of the world.

Spotlight on Venezuela


El Sistema programs, mark your calendars: the second Global Congress of El Sistema will be held at the Centro Nacional de Acción Social por la Música in Caracas, Venezuela on September 10–24, 2023.

Colombian Tribute to Maestro Abreu


On May 15, 2018, the Colombian national Sistema program Batuta brought together young musicians from all over the country to join in a huge concert paying tribute to Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, who died on March 24th.


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