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Program Inspired by Venezuela's El Sistema to be Implemented in U.S

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Los Angeles Philharmonic has taken the initiative in guiding a national teaching program in the U.S. that is based on the System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela, known as “El Sistema,” which promotes music education and social work among children and youth in low-income communities.

Bard College, in Upstate New York, and the Longy School of Music, in Cambridge, Mass., are partnering with the orchestra to support the movement. They will also grant master’s degrees in teaching the Sistema method.

José Antonio Abreú, founder of El Sistema, will serve as Honorary Advisor of the program, which is known as “Take a Stand.”

Deborah Borda, President of the L.A Philharmonic, told The New York Times that, in the U.S., this partnership will serve as a national reference point for Sistema-style “nucleos” (or nuclei), as the individual teaching centers are called.

El Sistema’s most famous graduate is Gustavo Dudamel, LA Phil’s music director and a driving force behind this initiative, according to the newspaper.

The Times reports that part of the challenge for Sistema supporters is figuring out how to adapt the program to other countries, because within Venezuela, the System of Orchestras is completely financed by the government.

“El Sistema is an inspiration,” said Leon Botstein, President of the Philharmonic-Bard program, which was also inspired by El Sistema.

The main goal of the partnership is “trying to train a cadre of teachers to bring classical music to populations that normally wouldn’t  have it,” Bostein told the Times.

About El Sistema

The System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela, known as El Sistema, is a foundation created by the Venezuelan maestro José Antonio Abreú in 1975. It has received extensive funding and support from the government of President Hugo Chávez. El Sistema, which was awarded the famous IMC-UNESCO International Music Prize, is aimed at providing music education and promoting the collective practice of music through symphony orchestras and choirs as a form of social organization and community development.

Musicians of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, one of the country’s most important, were trained under El Sistema’s method, which has been internationally recognized for its commitment to teaching music in underserved communities.

On Tuesday, October 4, the prodigious musicians of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra performed at the UN headquarters in Geneva at the UN. Concerts are also planned in Italy as part of the orchestra’s European tour.

Read the New York Times article here. Read also stories published by Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe

Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / October 5, 2011

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