(Re) generación de tejido social

Jose-Luis Estrada - Sun, 2014-08-24 16:57


Se habla de las actividades culturales (la música, el teatro, los museos, los festivales…) y otras acciones para la “regeneración del tejido social.” Es la frase de moda. La moneda de cambio. La nueva medicina para curar los males del país. Bien, pero vamos por partes. Comencemos por tratar de definir el termino (que a pesar de tener un timbre tan carismático tiende a ser vago y ambiguo).  ¿Que es el tejido social?

El tejido social es la suma de todas las partes y acciones que conforman una comunidad o sociedad que tenga objetivos comunes. Me viene a la mente la interdependencia entre los miembros de una familia, los actores que conforman una escuela, los herederos de una etnia indígena, los integrantes de una asociación civil o partido político, las clicas y las pandillas. Todos ellos forman una comunidad—un grupo con valores e ideales (para bien o para mal) que los guían y motivan. Existen dentro del núcleo de esos grupos fluidez por el intercambio de información y experiencias, mismas que les permiten entrelazar la estirpe de sus propias historias. (Los antropólogos Lave y Wenger han aludido a esto al debatir sobre su teoría de la comunidad de práctica.)
 
En México el discurso de regenerar el tejido o cohesión social se adhiere continuamente al tema de la violencia e inseguridad. Se habla de como comunidades se han fracturado y de la urgencia de llenar ese vacío con actividades productivas. ¿Que es lo que se esta haciendo en el ámbito cultural? Veamos un ejemplo: “Más que iniciar nuevos proyectos, queremos, a través de muchas convocatorias, recoger las inquietudes de la población y convertirlas en acciones culturales. Lo que estamos haciendo es amplificar la actividad cultural como un elemento absolutamente fundamental para reconstruir la cohesión social de muchas de estas poblaciones que desafortunadamente se han visto afectadas estos últimos tiempos.” 

El presidente del CONACULTA aquí citado se refiere al estado de Michoacán, una región que continuamente lucha por su supervivencia y Estado de derecho. Derivado de esa convocatoria se organizarán festivales, ponencias magistrales, ferias de libros, etc. Pero el tema político es sumamente complejo y las acciones y/o recursos que se otorgarán ahí por más bien encaminados o distribuidos nunca serán suficientes. El problema es muy grave. Pero aun quiero pensar que no es imposible de resolver (todavía me quedan algunas gotas de idealismo).
 
Pero creo que el enfoque general debe ser distinto. Debemos hablar de generar tejido y cohesión social. No de regenerar, esto nos limita mucho. Decía Winston Churchill que el político se convierte en estadista cuando comienza a pensar en las próximas generaciones y no en las próximas elecciones. Los problemas que aquejan al país merecen más que intervenciones relámpago. Necesitamos políticas visionarias de largo alcance que se construyan ladrillo por ladrillo. Hombro con hombro. Y no hay mejor lugar para tejerlas que la escuela.
 
La escuela es el común denominador de los mexicanos, todos pasan por ahí (es lo que dicta la ley). Todos aprenden de ella. Quien no recuerda las quermeses, las celebraciones del día de muertos, los bailables, las coronaciones, la estudiantina. Todo esto tiene algo en común—la convivencia. La cultura participativa es un mecanismo de fraternidad y empatía. Ese es el gran proyecto que México debe emprender y cultivar—el de la concertación.
 
Dice el economista y músico venezolano José Antonio Abreu que la practica musical es un modelo idóneo para alcanzar ese objetivo. “La orquesta (y porque no, el equipo de béisbol también diría yo) es la única comunidad que tiene por característica y esencia exclusiva…el concertarse entre si.” ¿Que significa la concertación? “La practica en equipo, el grupo que se reconoce como interdependiente, donde cada uno es responsable por los demás y los demás son responsables por uno.” Creo que si todos pensáramos así, estaríamos más cerca de ser un país más justo.  
 
Hay un gran experimento que se esta llevando a cabo en Nuevo León. La Alianza Educativa Ciudadana en esa entidad es un grupo de empresarios que aspiran al bien común y que animan a las comunidades escolares a ser autosuficientes, a concertarse, a apoyarse mutuamente. Cuando llegue a visitar una de las escuelas beneficiadas a las afueras de Monterrey me encontré con alumnos, padres de familia, y maestros que juntos pintaban su escuela, hacían el inventario de útiles, cortaban las ramas marchitas del patio. Todo un engranaje de cohesión y generación de tejido social.
 
Ahí esta el proyecto musical de las orquestas y bandas comunitarias del Sistema Nacional Fomento Musical. La iniciativa de Esperanza Azteca, los ensambles independientes que tocan serenatas los fines de semana. Las orquestas de la Gran Familia que se quedaron en la intemperie. Los equipos de futbol llanero, los niños trikis, las asociaciones civiles, las doñitas que hacen tamales en las cooperativas. Los sueños compartidos son vitales para construir armonía.

Hagamos de la “regeneración del tejido social,” mucho mas que una moda o frase que suene bien en la televisión. Podemos construir, tejer, y animar. Eso si, sin perder de vista que todos estamos llamados a poner nuestro granito de arena. En ese tenor y aunado a la circunstancia actual, los músicos (además de los maestros, los trabajadores, las amas de casa…) de México tenemos un compromiso histórico con la edificación de oportunidades para un mejor país. Y termino con una nota de esperanza parafraseando a Gandhi y a Bernstein diciendo que todo lo que hagamos pudiera parecer insignificante pero es sumamente importante que lo pongamos en marcha con más pasión y más devotamente que nunca.  

Agosto 2014

Música apagafuegos

Jose-Luis Estrada - Tue, 2014-08-19 19:36


En mi reciente blog hable de cómo la música puede combatir la pobreza e hice la observación de considerarla como parte de un proceso amplio de educación y desarrollo humano. Uno pudiera argumentar que en México el problema endémico de la pobreza es derivado de la falta de oportunidades en la educación, pero ahora me permito explorar como factores externos pueden llegar a truncar los procesos y efectividad del aprendizaje mismo que señalice hacia el cambio de social. ¿Puede ser la música un factor para solventar este círculo vicioso?
 
El educador y científico social Eric Jensen ha identificado cinco elementos que disminuyen sistemáticamente el desempeño académico de estudiantes en edad escolar. Estos son: la desnutrición, estrés crónico, vocabulario deficiente, esfuerzo reducido, y la exclusión social. Naturalmente atacar todos elementos en conjunto amerita de una intervención integral de políticas públicas en educación, salud, desarrollo social, entre otras áreas. Por ende todo esto requiere de una serie de apoyos, sistemas, y ambientes adecuados para crear nuevos espacios de alcance e impacto entre la población estudiantil. Aunado a esto propongo la música como factor de oportunidades, cambio y atenuante de contextos.
 
Al hablar de contextos no podemos pasar de alto las grandes dificultades que vive México en materia de violencia e inseguridad (la razón por ello amerita su propio análisis fuera de este texto). ¿Cuales serán las consecuencias del estrés crónico que le producen a estudiantes de zonas urbanas, en donde casi diario les asechan persecuciones, enfrentamientos, y balaceras cerca de sus casas, escuelas, e iglesias? (vea usted una muestra de lo a que me refiero, esto en Tepatitlán de Morelos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpiwEvja_G8/)
 
Según las recientes investigaciones del Harvard Center for the Developing Child, los contextos de estrés toxico disminuyen notablemente las habilidades neurológicas para desarrollar importantes funciones ejecutivas (las mismas que regulan la memoria, la flexibilidad mental, y el autocontrol). Se ha comprobado que las deficiencias de estas funciones afectan el desempeño académico, el comportamiento, y la salud en general. Esto tiene implicaciones sumamente desastrosas para el futuro del país (estimados funcionarios públicos y legisladores tomen nota). El ejercicio coordinado, afectivo, y disciplinado de la  música (aunado a otras intervenciones) puede mitigar ese tren degenerativo de una manera natural y provechosa. Consideren este testimonio de una niña que practica el violín en un programa social de orquesta infantil en Venezuela:
 
“Era el primer día de la orquesta de cámara, entonces yo venia temprano. Y casi al llegar aquí me dieron un disparo en la pierna. Y yo lloraba, no por el dolor, si no por que iba perder el ensayo. Cuando uno llega aquí se le olvida todo.” 
 
La niña dice que se le olvida todo…
 
En términos científicos lo que aquí ha ocurrido es que el ejercicio de la música, el entorno en donde la desarrolla, y la motivación intrínseca que le brinda; le ayuda a mitigar el contexto adverso en el que vive. Recientes investigaciones sobre la materia nos indican que este tipo de actividad puede cortocircuitar la respuesta al estrés y mantenerlo fuera del margen crónico o de peligro. Según los especialistas el estrés comienza en el cerebro y emite una reacción cadena que alerta al cuerpo a nivel celular. Con el paso del tiempo estos interruptores se quedan en posición de encendido permanente…la práctica músical crea una reacción a la inversa (WebMd). Al proteger a los estudiantes de estas condiciones adversas se mejora el desarrollo de las funciones ejecutivas antes aquí mencionadas. No hacerlo desencadena en parte comportamientos erráticos e impulsivos que nos generan más violencia entre otros males. Esto a la larga crea costos muy elevados.
 
Me preocupa como se ha visto afectada la impartición de la educación en México. Me duele ver los videos en YouTube en donde estudiantes son sometidos al terror de las batallas urbanas. Las nuevas generaciones están ahí clamando porque venga algún cambio, alguna oportunidad que los libere de todo eso. Ellos crecen atemorizados por la incertidumbre de que a la vuelta de la esquina les llueva una bala o peor aun que crezcan sin las herramientas que los hagan salir adelante. Habrá que reflexionar sobre todo esto. 

Agosto 2014

Notas: 


Kuchinskas, Susan. “How Music Making Reduces Stress” WebMd, 2010. (Reviewed by Patricia Farrell) http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/how-making-music-reduces-stress
 
“InBrief: Executive Function: Skills for Life and Learning” Harvard Center for the Developing Child, 2013. http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/briefs/inbrief_series/inbrief_executive_function/

Reflections on El Sistema at ISME

Exploring El Sistema - Sun, 2014-08-17 22:32
It’s been over two weeks now since I returned from attending the International Society for Music Education (ISME) Conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil (July 20-25), but it’s taken that long, and the juxtaposition of ongoing work and presenting at another conference, to fully process a wonderful experience in the ISME... Sistema Fellows Program

¿Música para combatir la pobreza?

Jose-Luis Estrada - Fri, 2014-08-15 03:29


En México ya es común encontrarnos con algún articulo, tweet, o discurso alusivo al movimiento de las orquestas y bandas juveniles en donde se haga hincapié en la música como herramienta para “combatir la pobreza,” “regenerar el tejido social,” o “disminuir la violencia.” En la mayor parte de los casos muchas de estas hipótesis, al carecer de sustento, se quedan atoradas en un discurso fantástico (por no decir político) y a veces ilógico. Hago un llamado para ir más allá de las pinceladas mediáticas y animar un debate serio en torno a la educación musical como una verdadera disciplina capaz de mediar, transformar, y construir mejores ciudadanos.

Yo si creo que la educación musical puede animar el desarrollo humano de jóvenes en edad de formación. Pero todos los que abogamos por ella debemos ser cuidadosos al elaborar el discurso (y las estrategias pedagógicas) que sustente la premisa.  También debemos ser conscientes de que la música debe ser vista como una herramienta para facilitar nuevos procesos que señalicen al cambio social. Howard Gardner nos brinda la explicación más lucida al respecto—el ejercicio de la música es una invitación para descubrir una pasión interior hacia el aprendizaje. Entonces cuando un joven se da cuenta de que sus esfuerzos se traducen a logros concretos y estos crecen con la disciplina del tiempo, se gesta así, un vocabulario de aprendizaje que puede ser transferido a múltiples dominios de acción mas allá de la practica musical (Scripp et al 2014). A medida de que el alumno adquiere esas herramientas su desarrollo cognitivo y motivación intrínseca (vea usted este niño que ama tanto su violoncello que duerme con el—http://youtu.be/oIGUXapsI-I?t=39m11s) lo hace mas propenso a alcanzar el éxito profesional. Mucho me llama la atención ese proceso de cambio. La educadora Maxine Greene se refería a esto como el fenómeno de wide-awakeness. José Antonio Abreu lo plasma en su idea de ser y no ser todavía. En otras palabras, el ejercicio de la música invita al alumno a descubrir su humanidad como realidad permanentemente inacabada y esto puede ser vital para su desarrollo pleno.

Me pregunto una vez más, ¿Puede la música combatir la pobreza?

Si lo creo. Pero para no pecar de ingenuos habrá que pensar la música como parte de un proceso de educación más amplio. Un ciudadano que tenga la capacidad de aprender, pensar y mejorarse continuamente será más completo y luchará por alcanzar sus objetivos desde cualquier posición o estrato social. La investigación contemporánea en torno al ejercicio de la educación estética nos indica que los estudiantes que estudian música son cuatro veces más propensos a ser reconocidos por su desempeño académico. Los estudiantes que se dedican a perfeccionar un instrumento musical ganan terreno a sus pares en perseverancia. También desarrollan su capacidad de retener información en todas las disciplinas académicas. Se disminuye la deserción escolar. Los niños también cultivan sus habilidades de razonamiento abstracto que los lleva a aplicar conocimientos y visualizar soluciones. Es así como la música puede generar un cambio social de raíz. Porque ayuda a desarrollar capacidades cognitivas de una manera mucho más sofisticada (me atrevo a decir) que las matemáticas o las lenguas. Y además por su carácter de actividad comunitaria y afectiva (dentro de los coros, estudiantinas, bandas, etc.) puede ser también factor de cambio del perfil sociológico de sus integrantes. 

Dice Guillermo Sheridan (Letras Libres) que en México “se enseña poca música en las escuelas y no hay mejor escuela imaginable.” Yo creo que el Estado debe considerar hacer de esta una disciplina de tiempo completo dentro del currículo académico. Esto nos puede llevar a desarrollar capital humano y ganar productividad para el bien de todos. Entre los países que obtienen las más altas calificaciones en matemáticas y ciencias (Japón, Hungría, Holanda, entre otros con alto índice de desarrollo económico) es obligatoria la educación musical. Los jóvenes mexicanos que menos tienen merecen triunfar y ser ejemplo de superación. Hay que hacer el esfuerzo por darles nuevas herramientas para que puedan salir victoriosos del círculo vicioso de la pobreza. Y para vencer ese mal pudiéramos voltear a ver más de cerca la música. Vale la pena el experimento.

Agosto 2014

Notas: 


Gardner, Scripp, et al. “El Sistema: Music Lessons to Rebuild the World” Open Source with Christopher Lydon, 2014. http://www.prx.org/pieces/114241-el-sistema-music-lessons-to-rebuild-the-world

"Re-Investing in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools." The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, 2011. http://www.pcah.gov/resources/re-investing-arts-educationwinning-americas-future-through-creative-schools
 
"Lessons from PISA for the United States, Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education.” OECD Publishing, 2011. http://www.oecd.org/pisa/46623978.pdf

“Music Matters: How Music Education Helps Student Learn, Achieve, and Succeed.” Arts Education Partnership, 2011. http://www.aep-arts.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Music-Matters-Final.pdf
 
"Prediction: Identifying potential dropouts." The Center for Public Education, 2007.  http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Keeping-kids-in-school-At-a-glance/Keeping-kids-in-school-Preventing-dropouts.html.
 
*En México, 53.8% de los niños y jóvenes de cero a 17 años de edad son pobres, mientras que tres de cada 10 pasan “hambre.” CONEVAL, UNICEF 2012

Merida's orchestra system

Exploring El Sistema - Sun, 2014-08-10 21:40
I was interested in the progression of the students through the different levels of the orchestra. My own experience has involved a more rigid system - we think more of progress on the scale of the individual e.g. this musician has reached a certain technical level and is ready to... Sistema Fellows Program

The Ensemble, August edition

Exploring El Sistema - Sun, 2014-08-10 21:33
The August edition of Tricia Tunstall and Eric Booth's publication chronicling the emerging field of El Sistema-inspired activity in the US and beyond, and featuring an essay by Katie Wyatt (Sistema Fellow '10) on her observations of El Sistema in the United Kingdom, is found here. Sistema Fellows Program

Returning to Acarigua

Exploring El Sistema - Sun, 2014-08-10 21:27
The first day of my much-anticipated return to Acarigua, I stopped to chat with the núcleo director, Roberto Zambrano, while the orchestra was on break. He was on the phone, in full crisis-prevention mode.... It isn’t a real Venezuelan seminario without some kind of crisis, and once again fate had... Sistema Fellows Program

Westminster Conducting Institute

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-07-14 14:33
Co-Founding and directing AMPlify has been a joy for me. A joy that I hope will deepen as the years go by. Wanting the best for our young artists in AMPlify means first wanting the best for myself, so when I made a decision on where to receive some training... Sistema Fellows Program

Reseña – Royal Philharmonic en Bellas Artes

Jose-Luis Estrada - Sat, 2014-07-12 13:45


El Palacio de Bellas Artes en la Ciudad de México celebra su ochenta aniversario este año. Para festejar ese acontecimiento, se ha invitado algunos de los artistas y ensambles mas distinguidos del orbe, entre ellos la Royal Philharmonic Orchestra quien nos ofreciera dos magnos conciertos en la sala principal. Bajo la batuta de Pinchas Zukerman la orquesta centro sus programas en obras de Beethoven. El tamaño de la orquesta fue justo lo necesario para el repertorio. Los conciertos internacionales en Bellas Artes tienen un aura especial pues se tratan de acontecimientos importantes. Pudimos observar entre los asistentes a jóvenes, familias, melómanos, funcionarios públicos y algunas figuras de la cultura nacional.  

En el primer concierto el mismo Zukerman asumió la doble responsabilidad de solista y director con el Concierto para Violin de Beethoven. Esta practica, aunque sorprendió a algunos de los asistentes, no es nueva. Tiene su razón de ser dentro del contexto del Clasicismo ya que los acompañamientos orquestales generalmente ostentan bloques de ritmo armónico simétricamente definidos y  texturas sonoras transparentes. Esto hace posible el solista pueda concertar a la orquesta sin necesidad de recurrir a la figura tradicional del director. Zukerman demostró que tiene un conocimiento profundo de la obra y seriedad al abordar a Beethoven con un timbre solemne. La Séptima Sinfonía de Beethoven recibió un cuidado muy especial por parte de la orquesta. Aquí fue donde realmente brillo como ensamble. Se logro un sonido dinámico y robusto en la cuerda. Fue evidente que es una obra que han trabajado detenidamente y a la que le han dado un énfasis cameristico en donde las partes hacen mas por escucharse entre si. Una ejecución virtuosa, llena de brío, con generosas intervenciones por parte de las maderas solistas. Para el segundo concierto escuchamos el Concierto para Violín y Cello de Brahms, la ultima obra orquestal del compositor Alemán. Una obra difícil por su contenido, duración, y el esfuerzo que requiere de los solistas, que lograron una participación impecable. Por lo general la Sinfonía Heroica de Beethoven nos mostró a un director cerebral con control sobre cada frase y articulación. La orquesta batallo en encontrar el tempo en el Scherzo pero se mostró firme y compenetrada en el movimiento final. Ahí pudimos apreciar una orquesta vibrante y de amplia sonoridad especialmente al llegar al tema de la danza húngara final. Los cornos merecen una mención especial pues lograron los pasajes solistas con seguridad y excelente afinación.
 
Entre otros aciertos— las notas al programa de Juan Antonio Brennan y el hecho que el Palacio de Bellas Artes instalara una pantalla a las afueras del recinto para que mas personas disfrutaran del evento. 
 
¡Felicidades al Palacio de Bellas Artes por su 80 aniversario! 

Why You Should Care About Beethoven

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-07-07 14:32
Photo: Anna Wu Five years ago today, I decided to put a performing career on hold to chase something that I’d grown more passionate about. After spending more than 15 years of my life honing my craft as an orchestral and jazz trumpeter, the sudden change of heart in my... Sistema Fellows Program

The Ensemble, July edition

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-07-07 14:28
The July edition of Tricia Tunstall and Eric Booth's publication chronicling the emerging field of El Sistema-inspired activity in the US and beyond is found here. Sistema Fellows Program

Give Your Life Away

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-07-07 14:23
What will be your legacy? It is hard to know that one thing or those few things that will leave a lasting positive impact on our world. For instance, few would ever guess that a woman making Johnny cakes for her neighbors in the middle of the 20th century on... Sistema Fellows Program

Congrats!

Jose-Luis Estrada - Thu, 2014-07-03 22:10

A heartfelt (and a favorite) moment during my brother's wedding celebration. Pictured here singing 'Te Presumo' accompanied by the Norteño group 'Relikia.' Angel and Athaly were married on June 28th in Reynosa, Mexico. Congrats to the newlyweds!

MYWE Tour Day 7: MYWE meet MAYO~

Preparatory School - Tue, 2014-07-01 19:55

I’ve been an orchestra girl all my life… but in the past week, I’ve fallen in love with Wind Ensemble. There is a certain magic among MYWE players. Certainly the tour magic is buzzing. We have just  finished day 7 of our tour and the feeling of comradery and family is high! Lifelong friendships have been formed.

 

Day 7-another long day. We started with a visit to the National Museum of Country Life. A fascinating journey about discovering what Irish Country life was like between 1850 and 1950. The weather today was stunning, so student also enjoyed the beautiful outdoor grounds of the museum.

 

Afterwards, we returned to our wonderful Hotel,(Hotel Castlecourt in Westport) for a group lunch. A “carver” lunch of different meats, salmon and Irish Stew… with potatoes of course. (everything in Ireland is served with potatoes!)

Following Lunch students enjoyed some brief time to relax at the hotel before we headed off to meet our new friends in the Mayo Youth Orchestra. What a delight! we rehearsed our joint pieces with them in an afternoon organized by the Whistleblast Group. Once again, the universal language of music brought us all together. After rehearsals, student enjoyed playing soccer- or really football;)

This second half of the day was spent at the Saint Patrick School for boys. A lovely elementary school. That also has a life-size chess board in the courtyard- so you can imagine we have a few games of chess today as well!

 

The Musical finale of our tour was held in the main hall at the school where locals of all ages joined us. The Mayo Youth Orchestra performing first( including the theme from James Bond!) followed by MYWE and then our joint performance. Our student were sensational.

 

A quick trip back to our hotel were many MYWE student celebrated with a Pool Party and then it was time to pack again for our 6:30 am wake up call!!

 

Sweet Dreams.

Rebecca Bogers

NEC Prep Director


From Derry to Westport, and all the places in between!

Preparatory School - Mon, 2014-06-30 19:29

Today was primarily a travel day. We hopped on the bus early morning towards Westport, which is where we are as I type. We made a few pit stops along the way that were very enjoyable. And most importantly, we played our final chamber music concert tonight at our hotel, the CastleCourt Hotel, which is beautiful and in my opinion is our nicest hotel so far.

We made 3 pit stops along the way:

1. Donegal! We were released from the coach for about an hour to explore the quaint little square of shopping places, coffee shops, and restaurants. It was yet another excellent opportunity to buy more gifts and try some local snacks.

2. We also stopped at the grave of famous Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, in Drumcliffe, Ireland. The graveyard is located next to a little church with swan doorhandles, which are in reference to one of his poems.

3. We then drove to Sligo, a quaint beachy-feeling town for lunch. Some of us had Irish food, others had Italian, and beyond.

After our pit stops, we arrived at our 3rd hotel on the tour (out of 4) called CastleCourt Hotel in Westport. We then had a chance to have a few hours of free time. We then had dinner, at in my opinion, the best restaurant we have eaten at yet. A few of us have dietary restrictions (myself included) and the hotel staff was just so accommodating and friendly. All other foods I heard were delicious also!

After the hotel, we had our 2nd and final chamber music concert, which was a total success. All the groups played wonderfully.

Here are some photos from the day:

Now, a few words from some of our students!

Ben Webster, 17 years old from Wrentham
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
My favorite part of the tour has been getting the opportunity to explore the towns we’ve been staying in. Tonight when we were walking around we met the nicest people and it was great talk with them.

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
I’m looking forward to seeing the Cliffs of Moher. I’ve only seen them in pictures and they look amazing.

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
It stood out to me how friendly people are. They always seem interested in where we are from and what we’re doing in Ireland.

Meg Dooley, 17 years from Holliston, MA

What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
Watching an Irish step dancing performance and then learning to do it ourselves– it was so fun and exciting!

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
Meeting people tomorrow that are other musicians our age, just from a different culture and also going to Limerick where Antoinette tells me my family is from.

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
All the people are so hospitable and friendly and just willing to spend time with other people and get to know them! Also the portion sizes are so much nicer and manageable and it makes me very happy :)

Erin Mernoff, Chaperone, Older sister of trumpet player Kayla Mernoff and Music Teacher at Taylor Exemplar Academy in Taylor, MI
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
I enjoyed learning the Ceili dance at the Jig Museum and getting to hear traditional Irish music played on the Uilleann pipes!

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
I am looking forward to hearing MYWE and the Mayo Youth Orchestra perform together!

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
I had known of the Troubles, but did not know the severity of the violence and similarities to the American Civil Rights Movement.

Matan Silver, 17 years old from Lexington, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
I really enjoyed the quality time I spent with the other MYWE members on the plane and long bus rides!

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
I’m really looking forward to seeing more of the beautiful Irish countryside and learning more about the rich culture here.

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
I was very impressed by the large influence that Ireland has had on other countries. We learned that there are Irish people all over the world (including japan!).

Jungwan Kim, 17 years old from Lexington, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
I enjoyed playing at the Derry Playhouse. The Irish girls that we met earlier came to see us, which was really nice.

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
I’m looking forward to the joint rehearsal and performance tomorrow!

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
Everyone is really nice and friendly here.

Chris Rohlicek, 16 years old from Watertown, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
The bus rides. Brian is the man.

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
Joint concert with the Irish!

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
The fact that there are almost exclusively middle-eastern restaurants in all of Ireland.

Lena Huh, 17 years old from Sharon, MA 
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
My favorite part of the tour was exploring and walking on the walls of Derry. The walls were high enough to allow us to see a great view of the town and the green fields.

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
I’m looking forward to learning more about the other players in MYWE as well as playing with the MAYO Youth Orchestra.

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
I found it very interesting that the history of Ireland is very old and much more complicated than I had realized.

Kayla Mernoff, 15 years old from Longmeadow, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
Getting a chance to walk around all of the different areas and see all of the different shops and restaurants.

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
The joint Mayo rehearsal and concert and getting to meet musicians from Ireland.

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
They say take away instead of take out, it’s really cute!

Julia Fritz-Endres, 17 years old from Carlisle, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
I enjoyed playing outside in St. Stephen’s Green. It was great to see people walk by and stop to listen to us. I have never performed outside before, and it added a whole new element.

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
I am excited to go to the workshop and play with the MAYO orchestra. We haven’t been able to interact with any Irish musicians yet and I think that it will be a memorable experience.

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
People here seem to be more laid-back. They take their time and aren’t always rushing from place to place. I think that we (New Englanders) can learn from that.

Diana McLaughlin, 18 years old from Pembroke, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
The maritime festival in Derry because the fireworks were really pretty and they had a carousel.

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
Everyone’s saying the joint concert, so something different that I’m looking forward to would be seeing the Cliffs of Moher!

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
A lot of things close earlier than stores in the U.S, and they open a lot later (if they open at all) on Sundays

Jill DiMeo, 17 years old from Needham, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
Meeting new friends in MYWE and getting to know everyone.

What are you looking forward to in the days to come?
Playing with the Mayo Youth Orchestra and getting to know musicians our age from a different country.

What is something about Irish culture that you found to be eye opening?
They put mayonnaise on salads… other than that, the food is surprisingly similar to American food.

-

Tomorrow we play our final concert and spend another night in Westport. More to come!

Yours in Ireland,

Ana


Hernandez-Estrada’s new album Sounds Blooming

Jose-Luis Estrada - Mon, 2014-06-30 17:53


Here is a new album of piano solo recordings that include music that I love. I felt this as an opportunity to re-imagine the scores and strive to weave my conscious self into their fabric. This is project is both an experiment in sound conception and a snapshot of a moment in time. I probably will not play these pieces the same way exactly ever again. Such is the beauty of art. I hope that you will enjoy hearing the music and share it with friends. The album is available for streaming and purchase here: 

https://soundcloud.com/joseherstrada/sets/album-release
http://joseherstrada.bandcamp.com/album/sounds-blooming




Recording Details:

CD Quality - 16 bit / 44.1 khz 
José Luis Hernández-Estrada, piano
WGBH Fraser Studio
Piano: Steinway D (Hamburg)
Recording Engineer: Jane Pipik
May 15, 2014 in Boston

C.F. Peters Corporation (John Cage) 
Carlanita Music (Carlos Chavez) 
 
Track listing and notes:
 
Erik Satie: Gymnopedie No. 1
*Mozart/Hernandez-Estrada: Fantasy K. 397
John Cage: In a Landscape (1948)
Liszt: Consolation No. 3 in D-flat Major, S. 172
Debussy: Clair de Lune from “Suite Bergamasque”
Beethoven: Andante Cantabile from Sonata Opus 13
Carlos Chavez: Inocencia from “Early Pieces”
Schubert: Impromptu in A-flat Major, D. 935
Mahler: Adagietto from “Fifth Symphony” (Arr. Singer) 
Hernandez-Estrada: Light of Love “Aria”

*Mozart left the Allegro of the Fantasy in D minor K. 397 unfinished. The traditional coda that we are used to hearing is by August Müller, a contemporary and admirer of Mozart. Why did Mozart leave the piece unfinished? Could he be encouraging us to complete the work for him? For this recording, I went ahead and arranged an alternate ending. While finding ways to solve the ending, I listened to the Mozart concerti recordings of jazz pianist Chick Corea who in many ways embodies Mozart’s creative and improvisational spirits (the composer was known as a great improviser often composing cadenzas on the spot or overtures to his operas minutes before curtain call). I also read through many of Mozart’s own cadenzas to try connect with his unique style. 

Hernandez-Estrada’s new album Sounds Blooming (Preview)

Jose-Luis Estrada - Mon, 2014-06-30 01:30



Coming soon is a new album of piano solo recordings that include music that I love. I felt this as an opportunity to re-imagine the scores and strive to weave my conscious self into their fabric. This is project is both an experiment in sound conception and a snapshot of a moment in time. I probably will not play these pieces the same way exactly ever again. Such is the beauty of art. I hope that you will enjoy hearing the music. The album will be available for streaming and purchase on Itunes, Spotify, and Amazon.com. In the meantime here are two preview tracks with music by John Cage and Franz Liszt. Stay tuned for updates. 

Recording Details:

CD Quality - 16 bit / 44.1 khz 
José Luis Hernández-Estrada, piano
WGBH Fraser Studio
Piano: Steinway D (Hamburg)
Recording Engineer: Jane Pipik
May 15, 2014 in Boston

C.F. Peters Corporation (John Cage) 
Carlanita Music (Carlos Chavez) 
 
Track listing:
 
Erik Satie: Gymnopedie No. 1
*Mozart/Hernandez-Estrada: Fantasy K. 397
John Cage: In a Landscape (1948)
Liszt: Consolation No. 3 in D-flat Major, S. 172
Debussy: Clair de Lune from “Suite Bergamasque”
Beethoven: Andante Cantabile from Sonata Opus 13
Carlos Chavez: Inocencia from “Early Pieces”
Schubert: Impromptu in A-flat Major, D. 935
Mahler: Adagietto from “Fifth Symphony” (Arr. Singer) 
Hernandez-Estrada: Light of Love “Aria”

(London)derry Day 2

Preparatory School - Sun, 2014-06-29 18:09

Today was the 2nd day in Derry.

Here’s what we did!

1. Ate delicious breakfast. There was a pancake machine which was amazing.

2. We had a walking tour of Derry, where we learned about the the history of the city, complete with all of the tensions between Protestants and Catholics, and Northern Ireland vs. The Republic. I don’t feel qualified to represent all the knowledge we learned, but it was definitely an eye-opening experience to learn so much about the RECENT bloodshed and civil war. The tour guide was a war child during the whole thing and it was absolutely fascinating to learn about all of the intensity from someone who had experienced it all firsthand. We drove past some graffiti art representing the events, walked along the wall, and ended the tour with the award-winning Tower Museum. I give it an A+

We returned to the hotel for a light lunch for sandwiches and then all individually departed for chamber music dress rehearsals at St. Columb’s Cathedral, where we had a 2pm chamber concert. The groups played amazingly. I am so proud of all of them!

4. After the concert, we had free time. Some people went to eat more, spend the last of our sterling pounds, or rest.

5. We had a delicious dinner again at the hotel.

6. We departed for our 2nd full-ensemble concert at the Playhouse Derry. MYWE played stunningly. I am so proud of them AGAIN! The concert was very well received. A representative from the national orchestra came and said that we were the first ‘wind band’ (european term for wind ensemble, virtually) that had moved her. Also, Ben Hartman (euphonium)’s little relatives sat still for a concert for the first time! :)

7. We are having some free time tonight before packing up and leaving Derry tomorrow. We depart very early for Westport tomorrow.

A few notes from some of our students!

Akshitha Ramachandran, 15 years old from Winchester, MA

What is your favorite part of the tour so far?
Sightseeing and seeing all the picturesque views of island.

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the tour?
More performances and imbibing more Irish culture.

What is something eye-opening for you about Irish culture?
How cordially people are in general. A 14 yr old girl talked to us for an hour an a half yesterday!

Dhanya Kumar, 18 years old from Shrewsbury, MA

What is your favorite part of the tour so far?
Talking to Irish school girls and learning what they watch on TV and what music they listen to.

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the tour?
I hope to visit where game of thrones takes place.

What is something eye-opening for you about Irish culture?
Yesterday I learned instead of “what’s up” they say “what’s the crack?”

Tevin Li, 16 years old, Lexington, MA

What is your favorite part of the tour so far?
Just playing.

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the tour?
More playing.

What is something eye-opening for you about Irish culture?
Honestly, right before my trip my younger brother kept asking me ‘is everyone in Ireland white and pale, named Seamus and have weird accents?’ I’ve learned that there are a lot of similarities between the Irish and Americans. The Irish are much different than as portrayed in the media.

Allen Yang, 16 years old from Jamaica Plain, MA

What is your favorite part of the tour so far?
The fireworks.

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the tour?
Performing in more venues. Experiencing Ireland more.

What is something eye-opening for you about Irish culture?
There are not many Asian people around. It’s not as diverse as Boston.

Brian Rappaport, 18 years old from Wellesley, MA

What is your favorite part of the tour so far?
I very much liked Derry (Londonderry) and the European feel. Nice vibe. I enjoyed playing the concerts

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the tour?
More concerts  and seeing more of Ireland.

What is something eye-opening for you about Irish culture?
I did not understand the degree to which the “troubles” and the separation of UK and Rep of Ireland impacted Irish life especially in Derry. It’s not something I’ve ever really known anything about and I found it very eye-opening.

Morgan Jackson, 17 years old, from Arlington, MA

What is your favorite part of the tour so far?
Exploring the walls of Derry and finding random hole-in-the-wall shops everywhere

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the tour?
I’m really excited to visit Limerick, I’ve heard its a cool bohemian city!

What is something eye-opening for you about Irish culture?
The fact that it’s called “take-away” rather than take-out foods. Also the difference is striking- European sodas have real sugar and Fanta is made with real oranges. Like, what? Why don’t we have that in the US? It’s so much better!

Katharine Silva, 17 years old from Brookline, MA

What is your favorite part of the tour so far?
Getting to explore Dublin and Derry!

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the tour?
Seeing the Cliffs of Moher- they sound beautiful

What is something eye-opening for you about Irish culture?
I’m still trying to figure out how to cross the streets

Colin Roshak, 18 years old from Boston, MA (Walnut Hill student)

What is your favorite part of the tour so far?
Kebab.

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the tour?
Going back to get more kebab.

What is something eye-opening for you about Irish culture?
The kebab.

Nicholas Hooks, 18, Merritt Island, FL (Walnut Hill student)

What is your favorite part of the tour so far?
Having local Irish people come and see our performance.

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the tour?
Definitely seeing more sights of Ireland and getting to know the culture

What is something eye-opening for you about Irish culture?
The amount of Middle Eastern restaurants that are sprinkled throughout the wee Irish streets.

Kristen Ingraham, 17 years old from Milton, MA

What is your favorite part of the tour so far? 
Making new friends with other MYWE students. I’ve made friends with people who I’ve never talked to before. This trip has brought us together.

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the tour?
Tonight’s concert and the joint concert with the Mayo Youth Orchestra.

 

What is something eye-opening for you about Irish culture?
People are friendlier here. I’ve never known much about Irish history so it was interesting to visit the ulster museum and the history of Derry itself and the civil.

-

Yours in Ireland,

Ana


To Derry/Londonderry!

Preparatory School - Sat, 2014-06-28 19:46

Yes, Derry and Londonderry are the same thing. Thanks to our lovely tour guide Antoinette, we’ve learned that there are many (too long for me to go into it right now… you’ll see why after I recall the events of the very long day today) political reasons that Northern Ireland (where we are now) is actually a different country than the rest of the island. Also – when you hear a person refer to Derry as Derry or Londonderry as Londonderry, or Derry as Londonderry, etc. etc. etc., it can be seen as a reflection of the political stance the person who is saying it feels about the situation, that apparently is much more diffused than we think it is.

Anyway – it seems like we are all calling it DERRY. Nothing political of course – it’s just shorter and that’s how it was introduced to us.

SO – a quick recap with some photos. I will give a more in-depth analysis of today’s events. Also just so the world knows- we do not have free wifi in this hotel. There is a 5 pound (about $10USD) charge per person per device per day (yup), so if you don’t hear from us – that’s why!

1. We woke up very early and departed for Derry around 9am. It was a very sleepy trip. Along the way, we stopped at rest area so we could all stretch our legs and buy junk food (woohoo)!

2. We drove for about 2 hours more and stopped at the Ulster American Folk Park which was an interactive display of the way life was in Ireland in the 1800s, right after the American Revolution. They had locals dressed and acting as locals from that time period, explaining different things to us about the lifestyle. It was an amazingly authentic experience with many amazing views along the way. I highly recommend it if you ever end up in Ulster… Here are some photos!

3. Afterwards, we drove to Derry, which is the only remaining walled city in Ireland. We had a few hours of free time then we all met for dinner.

4. Dinner – it was yummy!

5. There’s a pirate festival going on in Derry and the last night was tonight. We went to the riverfront where there were some food and souvenir tents, then they had fireworks!

6. We all headed home and to sleep.

I apologize for the lack of photos in the 2nd half of this post. I will post more in-depth and with more photos tomorrow. The internet here is extremely weak and is not properly uploading photos. There might be some on our Facebook page so please check them out there.

Tomorrow is a long day – 2 concerts: 1 chamber music concert and 1 full ensemble concert. More to come on today’s events and tomorrow’s!

Also – if you have any questions please feel free to comment below and we’ll respond ASAP!

Yours in Ireland,

Ana

 


24+ hours in Dublin

Preparatory School - Fri, 2014-06-27 17:17

We all woke up today extremely well rested. We really really needed the sleep last night. The last time anyone here has slept in a bed before last night was Tuesday night in Boston. yes that was about 40 hours before we all hit the sack.

We rose and had a delicious buffet style breakfast, complete with Irish offerings such as Irish bacon and blood pudding.

Here’s a photo of our rock star flute section after breakfast:

After breakfast we had our first tour rehearsal at the hotel. It was fun to finally play again together in Ireland for the first time since arriving.

Shortly after, we departed for St. Stephen’s Green, a major park in the south of Dublin, to play in their bandstand.

We performed a combination of Irish tunes and American music, and ended of course with Star-Spangled Banner. There was a moment before we played Irish tune by Percy Grainger, which features the melody of Danny Boy, that I found to be incredible. Mr. Mucci pointed out right before we played that we are in fact in IRELAND! Seems obvious I know- but what an amazing opportunity and privilege it is for us to play this beautiful Irish music for an Irish audience, in Ireland, on the beautiful day that it was. :’) tears of pure happiness…

Anyway, there were over 350 people out to watch the concert- and people of all ages!

We then returned to the hotel for a very abbreviated lunch and then made our way back towards Grafton street for an Irish jig/reel performance and we all learned to dance! It was tiring and we all got sweaty but it was SUPER FUN. visit the NEC prep Facebook page for a video… ;)

We then had a few hours of free time, where we all separated into groups to explore the city. Some groups went shopping, some ate, some just walked around a explored the sights. All around a great time!

Then we headed home for dinner and sang a happy birthday to MYWE saxophonist Matthew Kiel, who turns 19 today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATTHEW! (Don’t worry- he didn’t eat any of it due to food allergies)!

As I type, we are all relaxing at the hotel after a long day. Here’s a photo of some students playing cards in the lobby, with a few words by a few of them to follow….

Eric Chen, 15 years old from Newton, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
Learning the jig because it was active, interesting, and new!

What are you looking forward to most?
The next (indoors) concert in Derry.

What is something culturally eye opening about Ireland for you?
Hearing Gaelic for the first time.

Jeremy Freudberg, 17 years old from Newton, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
I ate a delicious chocolate brownie gelato from a shop on Grafton Street.

What are you looking forward to most?
Seeing Mayo youth orchestra perform.

What is something culturally eye opening about Ireland for you?
Tax is included in the prices of everything.

Patrick Noonan, 17 years old from Wrentham, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
Honestly, getting chance to wander around and see Dublin. I’ve always wanted to see Ireland and it’s great to be in the capital.

What are you looking forward to most?
Playing the concert in the cathedral in Derry.

What is something culturally eye opening about Ireland for you?
I wasn’t expecting to learn to dance the Irish Jig- and it was a lot of fun!

Abraham Zimmerman, 17 years old from Melrose, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
Exploring Dublin with our small group on our own. We needed to use a map.

What are you looking forward to most?
Performing chamber music in the cathedral in Derry.

What is something culturally eye opening about Ireland for you?
How heavy the euro coins are. They make you feel rich.

Sean Delaney, 15 years old from Winchester, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
The service of Aer Lingus. (Side note: Sean’s bag has been misplaced in transit and we are still waiting front to be returned.) #aerlingus #findit)

What are you looking forward to most?
The combined concert with Westport / Getting my bag back. (#pleaseaerlingus)

What is something culturally eye opening about Ireland for you?
The Irish accents seem fake.

Alex Ennes, 17 years old from Wrentham, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
The free time getting lunch and seeing the city.

What are you looking forward to most?
Seeing the Cliffs of Moher. It’s been on my bucket list.

What is something culturally eye opening about Ireland for you?
Learning the jig and the cars driving on the wrong side of the street.

Ben Hartman, 16 years old from Natick, MA
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
My new Irish cap.

What are you looking forward to most?
Buying more hats

What is something culturally eye opening about Ireland for you?
You see morecar brands here like Citroen and Peugeot.

Tijs van Maaren, 17 years old from Hamilton, MA (Walnut Hill recent graduate)
What was your favorite part of the tour so far?
Playing music.

What are you looking forward to most?
Playing more concerts.

What is something culturally eye opening about Ireland for you?
Everyone speaks English. I’m surprised that more people aren’t speaking French. When I was in Holland it seemed like everyone was speaking French. (Tijs is Dutch)

-

Tomorrow we head over to Northern Ireland, to the city of Derry. It is about 3 hours away and it is actually a different country than the Ireland we are currently in. It is part of the United Kingdom, but on the same island we are on. Exciting!

Yours in Ireland,
Ana



SOMETIMES IT'S TO YOUR ADVANTAGE FOR PEOPLE TO THINK YOU'RE CRAZY. THELONIOUS MONK