January 2020

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

Athens to Texas: “We’re With You”

01-08-2020

Over the past few months, some El Sistema activists in the United States have been mobilizing resources to launch an El Sistema program this month for immigrant children in Tornillo, Texas, who are living in the acute stress of the border crisis. Raising money for this has been a challenge; a music industry charity, the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation, recently came through with sufficient support, with help from the Leonard Bernstein Foundation, but many funders with deep pockets don’t understand how ensemble music learning can alleviate a humanitarian crisis.

Share Your Time & Talent: Sistema Connect

01-08-2020

Looking for a meaningful New Year’s Resolution that will benefit children and your own musical journey? Sign up to become a Sistema Connect Volunteer and help an emerging El Sistema program, whether through travel or from the comfort of your home. Sistema Connect is a new initiative founded in the U.S.; its mission is to connect people who want to share their skills with programs who need those skills.

The Bolivars Bring Their New Sound to Russia

01-08-2020

The Bolívars are back!

In December 2019, the 155-member Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, led by Maestro Christian Vasquez, were invited to perform in Russia. It was the first official tour since March 2017 for this orchestra, and a real celebration for their return to the international scene.

Nicola Killean Awarded OBE in New Year Honours List

01-08-2020

Congratulations to Nicola Killean, Founder and CEO of Sistema Scotland, who has recently been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE). She was selected by a special committee and approved by the Queen and Prime Minister, in the New Year Honours List for 2020, for her services to music, children and community cohesion. OBE recipients are awarded based on their contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organizations, and public service.

Meet “The Queen of Paradise Orchestra”: A New Program in Papua New Guinea

01-08-2020

In 1975, the year El Sistema was founded in Venezuela, a tiny new country was founded on the other side of the world: Papua New Guinea. One of the world’s least explored and most rural nations, PNG would seem to have little in common with the homeland of El Sistema. But in 2019, El Sistema came to Papua New Guinea.

Key Learning from the Field: Trust and Empower Your Community

01-07-2020

In the summer of 2014, I arrived on a rainforest island called Pohnpei, in Micronesia (a country in the region of Oceania) to teach high school English. When the school lacked the resources to enable students to explore their passions for music and basketball, the students and I started looking for solutions. This initiative evolved into The International Sports and Music Project (ISMP), an organization that uses sports and music as powerful tools for mental health.

Editorial: January 2020

01-07-2020

At the start of every New Year, I look for inspiration, and this week I found it. “It (Still) Takes a Village,” Krystle Ford’s article also in this issue, reports on the work of the Indianapolis Symphony’s Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, which seeks to engage multiple generations of family members in its El Sistema work.

It (Still) Takes a Village

01-07-2020

What does it mean to teach with a village mentality? This is what we do every day at the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (MYO). Families learning alongside one another is at the core of our program.

Mourning and Honoring a Student Leader

01-07-2020

The hours, days, and weeks following the death of Draylen Mason at the hands of a serial bomber in March of 2018 are difficult to look back upon. To lose any student is indescribably tragic, but losing Dray was a deep and personal anguish to all of us at Austin Soundwaves (ASW); he was, and continues to be, the heart and soul of our El Sistema-inspired program. In mourning, we learned how much we at ASW depend on our students, sometimes leaning on them just as much as (or more than) they lean on us. Their strength was remarkable during that time, and the energy that typically fuels teenage intransigence was instead diverted two-fold into leading music-making and creating remembrances for Dray. We grieved and didn’t simply move on. And though it would have been easy to focus on the perniciousness of the circumstances, we felt a grave and humbling responsibility to persist in recognizing and commemorating Draylen’s growing legacy.

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