José Abreu’s Wish
Partner with the New England Conservatory of Music to create, implement and document a year-long educational program that involves hands on training in Boston, an extended time studying El Sistema in Venezuela, guided internships in the second semester with public programs that affect youth at risk, followed by a required year working to advance or found an El Sistema program outside Venezuela.
Where We Are Now:
- el Sistema USA website, created by Albertson Design, launched as support and advocacy network for el Sistema-inspired organizations.
- Fundraisers in LA, Boston & Aspen were coordinated by TEDsters to raise awareness, support and funding.
- Abreu Fellows Program, a post-graduate certificate program at the New England Conservatory in Boston, began this October.
- Master-classes, workshops, internships and residencies will develop fellows skills to develop El Sistema programs in the U.S. and internationally
- Fellows will travel to Venezuela for 2-month residency under personal direction of Dr. Abreu beginning mid-February.
- Documentary team led by Jamie Bernstein capturing fellows’ experiences this year as they return to their communities to develop El Sistema programs.
The Continuing Needs:
- Identifying opportunities to work in existing urban programs or to create new ones.
- Media partners.
- Mentorships, continued Entrepreneurial training.
- Operational funding and funding student fellowships (estimated $25,000 per student).
- Sponsoring local programs.
About José Abreu
“Music has to be recognized as an…agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest values – solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion. And it has the ability to unite an entire community and to express sublime feelings.”
The gulf between the rich and the poor in Venezuela is one of the worst in the world. Dr. José Antonio Abreu, a retired economist, trained musician, and social reformer founded El Sistema (“the system”) in 1975 based on the conviction that all Venezuelan kids can benefit from participating in classical music. After thirty years and 10 different political administrations, El Sistema is now a nationwide organization of 102 youth orchestras, 55 children’s orchestras, and 270 music centers.
Comprised of close to 250,000 young musicians, El Sistema uses music education to help youth, most from impoverished circumstances, to achieve their full potential and acquire values that favor their growth and have a positive impact on their lives in society. José views El Sistema as an alternative to the drugs and crime that plagues the lives of many Venezuelan children. The talented musicians have become a source of national pride, bringing classical music from the concert hall into the real world. Several participants of the program have gone on to have major international careers, including Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and soon to be the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the double bass player Edicson Ruiz, who at the age of 17 became the youngest musician ever to join the Berlin Philharmonic.
There is a simple concept behind José’s work: for him an orchestra is first and foremost about togetherness, a place where children learn to listen to each other and to respect one another. José continues to believe in a better future for Venezuela, wanting to change people and structures through music.