September 2019

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

El Sistema Finland: Tempo’s 10-year Celebration

09-02-2019

Since 2009, El Sistema Finland‘s Tempo Orchestra has provided and fostered music-making opportunities for children hailing from various backgrounds. It began as a project called “A whole world in the suburb,” and was financed through Finland’s Ministry of the Interior. Our goal was to increase interactions between Finnish and immigrant children and their families within two densely populated immigrant areas, Länsimäki and Koivukylä. These areas are located in the city of Vantaa, which is the most multicultural city in Finland.

EDITORIAL: The Transformative Power of Big

09-02-2019

I have been lucky enough to attend the last three gatherings of the global Sistema’s biggest events—Side by Side by El Sistema Sweden, Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra, and the YOLA National Festival.  There is no getting around it—these are gigantically complex efforts to design and manage, and they are expensive.

Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach Project Meets The Network of Music Schools of Medellin

09-02-2019

It is not a secret to anyone that Medellin, Colombia had a number of violent years that left a trail of pain, death, and corruption. In the early ’90s, Medellin was named the most violent city in the world. More than 25 years later, Medellin´s face has changed; now it is a global example of innovation and development, and culture has played an important role in this social change. 

Boston String Academy Joins Orquestra Geração

09-02-2019

“Visiting Portugal with my BSA orchestra was a trip full of memories that will never stop coming back to me. It’s amazing how, despite the expected language barrier, there were no walls between us, like we didn’t need words to form friendships because the music and the passion connecting us was enough. The music is the center of it all – why we were there, why we knew each other, why we would see each other days after the trip. It’s incredible how when you love something, you don’t want to stop doing it. After spending almost eight hours playing, barely awake by the end of the day, I still wanted to wake up and do it all over again the next day because I enjoy music; I enjoy playing it, the feeling and the togetherness of the orchestra, the people I meet, the places I get to see, the pieces I get to play, the emotion I get to feel, the memories that are present forever like friendly ghosts haunting my mind, traveling wherever I go, bringing it all with me. I may be in Boston, or in L.A., or in Venezuela, or anywhere in the world, but as long as I have music, and all that comes with it, Portugal will never leave me. It changed me far too much for me to forget.”

Community Trust

09-01-2019

Undocumented immigrants share the unique experience of eventually facing the implications of their legal status. For me, that understanding developed in middle school – six years after I crossed the border into the U.S. in 1995, with only shoes, pants, and a sweatshirt.

FROM THE EDITOR September 2019

09-01-2019

On November 1, 2011, Eric Booth and I published the first issue of The Ensemble newsletter. In my inaugural editorial column, I quoted our Venezuelan friend Rodrigo Guerrero, who had said at the first gathering of U.S. Sistema practitioners: “Look around you. Look to your right. Look to your left. These are the people who are going to help you. Networking is incredibly important.”

Principles of Scale for Growing a Sistema System

09-01-2019

In the early days of the U.S. El Sistema movement, Maestro Abreu regularly spoke at national conferences. Often during these events, he would state, “El Sistema is not a system.” Yet we all marvelled at the interconnected structure of neighborhood núcleos, regional seminarios, state youth orchestras, and the multiple levels of youth orchestras based at Caracas’s national conservatory.

Colourstrings and Sistema

09-01-2017

In June we traveled to Helsinki, Finland, to work on our teacher certification in the Colourstrings method. Colourstrings is a method based in Kodaly philosophy that was founded by the Hungarian brothers Géza and Csaba Szilvay in 1972, just three years before Maestro Abreu founded El Sistema in Venezuela. The method uses colors for each string, and also picture symbols. It focuses on both the individual and the ensemble, offering individual and group lessons, orchestra, choir, theory, and kinder-music. Students receive music learning every weekday, and advance gradually through a series of skill levels, insuring their healthy development.

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