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Gustavo Dudamel, etc., to introduce "La Sistema" training progto the United States


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#1 bart

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 04:11 PM

According to the NY Times, the L.A. Philharmonic (director, Gustavo Dudamel) will attempt to create a national program in the U.S. similar to La Sistema in Venezuela. Bard College and the Longy School of Music will participate, offering degrees in teaching the Sistema method..

El Sistema aims to use the teaching of classical music to improve the lives of poor children and to help underprivileged neighborhoods. It has involved some 400,000 young people in Venezuela and spread to a number of countries, capturing the imagination of leading performers, teachers and executives in classical music.

Necessarily, they are starting small here. But, given the deep cuts arts programs in public schools and the rising levels of poverty. this sounds like a wonderful idea for the U.S. -- and well worth spending resources on.

I have read about the many youth orchestras in Venezuela but don't know whether other kinds of musical training are included. Vocal? Chamber music? Dance?

http://www.nytimes.c...harmonic&st=cse

#2 dirac

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 04:43 PM

Necessarily, they are starting small here. But, given the deep cuts arts programs in public schools and the rising levels of poverty. this sounds like a wonderful idea for the U.S. -- and well worth spending resources on.



Thanks for posting, bart. No harm in starting small. Arts education needs all the help it can get here, as you say.

#3 Paul Parish

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 07:30 PM

Great idea!

I've seen the results of El Systema at UC Berkeley, in the Young musicians program), which has been using a Venezuelan conductor to work with the kids on orchestral playing for the last two years. This summertime urban music-camp was excellent already, under the inspired and inspiring direction of the soprano Daisy Newman, a very fine classical singer who is African-American (she comes from Natchez, MS) and has been able to make bridges between young people of disadvantaged communities in he Bay Area and some of the finest conservatories. (Not all of the participants come from minority communities -- but most do).

But since Ms Newman decided to bring El Systema in, the orchestral concerts have been exponentially more ambitious -- and they have been amazingly successful; some of the students have years of excellent training, but some may have been working on their instruments for only one year, but they're given intensive coaching and then asked to play in ensembles and pull their weight in wonderful and very demanding music. There have been some wrong notes, but the phrasing and attack and sense of the organic whole has been real music-making, thrilling to experience, and it's also clear that it's a major experience for the young people to encounter such great music, and rise to the challenges (including surviving their very public mistakes and continuing to make music).

The program's goal is that everyone who goes through will go to college. Some will become professional musicians, but all will have been transformed by the music and the program and will have a sense of their own potential greatness they can take with them into the future.

For a sense of their direction, I offer this clip of Leonard Bernstein conducting Daisy Newman in his song "A Julia Burgos from a Proms concert in 1988.


El Systema looks to me -- I do NOT know this, it just looks that way -- like it owes a lot to the way Bernstein presented music to young audiences, which I remember being very excited by when I was a kid and saw him analyze Beethoven's 5th symphony on TV back in the 50s. If there is no debt to Bernstein, the approaches are certainly compatible. Great music --and ballet, too -- is the heritage of us all, I really believe this; it is not just the preferred entertainment of the wealthy.

#4 bart

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 03:34 AM

I was a kid and recreational music studente at the time of the Bernstein youth concerts. I remember that everyone watched him at tv, and we students in the band, orchestra, and chorus were taken from our suburban public school once a year to attend his concert-presentations in the City. Of course, our actual musical training was otherwise conventional. But it worked because it was supported by the community in which we lived. All levels of the community, not just the elite.

Great music --and ballet, too -- is the heritage of us all, I really believe this; it is not just the preferred entertainment of the wealthy.

Agreed. This is something that seems to have been lost. Forgotten,a actually. When I first saw a video about Dudamel's work in Venezuela, I was mesmerised by the faces of the young students as they played -- in many cases, playing instruments they had scarcely even SEEN a year or two before. Not everyone will be come a professional classical musician, of course. Which makes this sort of public investment counter-intuitive in our current economic climate. But think of all the positive attitudes and behaviors that something like La Sistema fosters: cooperation, the need to practice, a commitment to developing excellence, a love of something beautiful. Not bad things. And VERY useful, I should think, to the larger society as well as to the individual students.

#5 bart

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 03:37 AM

I was a kid and recreational music student at the time of Bernstein's Young People's Concerts. I remember that everyone watched him at tv, and we students in the concert band, orchestra, and chorus were taken from our suburban public school once a year to attend one of the concerts. Of course, our musical training was otherwise conventional. But it worked because it was supported generously and whole-heartedly by the community in which we lived. All levels of the community, not just the elite.

Great music --and ballet, too -- is the heritage of us all, I really believe this; it is not just the preferred entertainment of the wealthy.

Agreed. This is something that seems to have been lost in the past few decades. Forgotten,a actually. When I first saw a video about Dudamel's work in Venezuela, I was mesmerised by the faces of the young students as they played -- in many cases, playing instruments they had scarcely even SEEN a year or two before. Not everyone will be come a professional classical musician, of course. Which makes this sort of public investment counter-intuitive in our current economic climate. ("Jobs" focused, but curiously unable to create good jobs.) But think of all the positive attitudes and behaviors that something like La Sistema fosters: cooperation, the need to practice, a commitment to developing excellence, a love of something beautiful. Not bad things. And VERY useful, I should think, to the larger society as well as to the individual students.

#6 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 03:54 PM

Good heavens - Gustavo Dudamel is chief conductor of GSO - Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, contract running until 2012. Dudamel has been very well received here, being himself a product of "Sistema" he has started something similar in the less endowed suburbs of Gothenburg. As far as I know, his project has been a great success. Well, Sistema worked in Caracas so why should it not work in Gothenburg? I think the very idea is wonderful. At the moment, Maestro Dudamel is sharing his time between the GSO and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Must add that Maestro Dudamel has drawn people to the concert hall who had never set foot there before here in Gothenburg, and best of luck to Los Angeles for getting such a dynamic young conductor :clapping: I sincerely hope that he will continue the good work of Sistema in L.A. as well.

#7 dirac

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 11:25 AM

I think the very idea is wonderful. At the moment, Maestro Dudamel is sharing his time between the GSO and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Must add that Maestro Dudamel has drawn people to the concert hall who had never set foot there before here in Gothenburg, and best of luck to Los Angeles for getting such a dynamic young conductor. I sincerely hope that he will continue the good work of Sistema in L.A. as well.


It sounds as if he will. Certainly he seems to have energy to spare!

Great music --and ballet, too -- is the heritage of us all, I really believe this; it is not just the preferred entertainment of the wealthy.


As Balanchine said, quoting from memory - "Ballet isn't for everybody, but it's for anybody."


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