March 2019

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

The Ambassadors’ Exchange, March 2019


On 9 February, the Orchestra of the Filipino Youth (OFY), led by their conductor Joshua Dos Santos, performed a pre-Valentine’s Day concert titled “Musika at Misyon” (Music and Mission) at the Sun Life Amphitheater in the BGC Arts Center in Taguig, Metro Manila. They played an eclectic mix of pieces, from classical works such as Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No. 8 and Wagner’s Rienzi Overture, to fun pieces such as the “Mission Impossible” theme and “Mambos” by Toussaint and Perez Prado, as well as classic Filipino favorites. What made this concert special was that for a few pieces, the Orchestra of the Filipino Youth and the Ang Misyon Children’s Orchestra performed as one ensemble for the first time.

New Developments at Ang Misyon, the Philippines


The Sistema-inspired program Ang Misyon, in the Philippines, has announced new leadership as of January 2019.  Maestro Joshua Dos Santos is the Music Director, Marianne Quebral is Director for Partnerships and Networking, and Shirley Cruz is now the Executive Director.

OrKidstra Sings at Canada’s National Hockey Game


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Updates from El Sistema Kenya


El Sistema Kenya (ESK) has programs in two underprivileged areas of Nairobi, Kawangware and Waithaka.  ESK reports two recent changes they are working on.  First, they get many requests from people wanting to visit and/or teach, but often, the visits provide no funding, no help, and basically no benefits accrue to the program from making arrangements for these short visits. 

El Sistema USA Leads 2019 National Symposium


Over two hundred program leaders, teaching artists, supporters and advocates of the El Sistema movement in the United States came together in Detroit, Michigan in January, to reflect upon current practice and explore promising new directions in the field.  The gathering was designed and led by El Sistema USA, a national organization whose membership includes many Sistema-inspired programs.

Led by Performance:  Sistema in Norwich


At Sistema in Norwich (England), we have sought to put performance at the forefront of developing our programme.  Although performance has always been an important aspect of our work, and we have been getting children involved in performing from the earliest stages of the learning process, the Performance Project seeks to go beyond that practice.  The project developed out of three strands of thought.

EDITORIAL: Inspiration from Venezuelan Master Teachers


The U.S. El Sistema-inspired movement felt like “a field” at the El Sistema USA National Symposium in Detroit, Michigan this past January, as we honored our lineage together and shared new ideas about how to advance our practice. The symposium brought together more than 200 Sistema colleagues, representing 80 organizations and hailing from 28 different states, for a day and a half of intensive dialogue and interactive demonstrations.  Elsewhere in this issue we will report on some of the key features of the Symposium, but this editorial focuses on one distinctive aspect of El Sistema:  Venezuela.

The Dream Orchestra of El Sistema Sweden


In 2016, Ron Davis Alvarez took a bus from Gothenburg, Sweden to a home for young refugees in the Swedish countryside.  A former nucleo director in Venezuela’s El Sistema who had just been appointed Artistic Director of El Sistema Sweden, Ron wanted to build an orchestra where he saw that the need was greatest.  He played his violin for the young refugees and presented his idea about an orchestra.  He wanted to do something for these young people without relatives in a foreign country.  He also wanted to show the world how El Sistema works.



I am lucky enough to have been able to go to Venezuela and see El Sistema in action, during those golden years when the Sistema threw its doors open wide to an international multitude of visiting musicians and Maestro Abreu dreamed of Caracas becoming the Vienna of the 21st century. Sadly, it’s hard to visit Venezuela at all now, and El Sistema struggles with the same desperate economic and political crisis that grips everyone in that beautiful and beleaguered country. For the global Sistema community, the poignant silver lining of the crisis is the evolution of a kind of Sistema diaspora, with many Venezeulan master teachers, teaching artists and conductors working with programs around the world.

The Symposium: A Reflection


When I landed in Detroit, Michigan on January 29th for the El Sistema USA Symposium, warnings about the extreme winter temperatures were all over the radio, but I needed to find out on my own. So I took a short walk in my Atlanta “winter clothes”: sneakers, a small coat, no gloves. At that moment, I realized that the next time I went outside in Detroit would be to catch the plane back to Atlanta!


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