Recent Updates from Sistema Global Research

Exploring El Sistema - Wed, 2014-12-03 17:48
Sistema Global Research is excited to announce that Oxford University Press has given us permission to host the opening pages to the recently published book El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela's Youth by ethnomusicologist Geoffrey Baker. On our recent scholarship page, please also find an author statement to the Sistema Global community.... Sistema Fellows Program

Music in the Advent and Christmas Season

Jose-Luis Estrada - Mon, 2014-12-01 13:56

I am pleased to share two upcoming musical performances: 

The annual Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols will be held on Sunday, December 7th at 4 and 6 p.m.

This service is patterned after a similar one held at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. Scriptures will be shared by readers of all ages, and those readings will be interspersed with hymns and carols accompanied by a chamber orchestra. Singers and instrumentalists will be led by Dr. Joel Panciera and Jose Luis Hernandez-Estrada. The rich acoustics produced by the long shape and marble surfaces of Great Hall create a sound much like that in the great cathedrals of England, where this service began. Those attending should arrive early as the hall fills quickly.

The Nineteenth Annual Natalie O. Warren Presentation of Handel’s Messiah will be held on Sunday, December 21st at 5 p.m.

Boston Avenue Church's Chancel Choir will join forces with members of the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra to perform George F. Handel's timeless masterpiece, Messiah. This concert performance of Messiah will include movements from all three parts of the oratorio. Singers and instrumentalists will be led by Dr. Joel Panciera and Jose Luis Hernandez-Estrada.

Both services and concert are free and open to the public.
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church
1301 S Boston Ave, Tulsa 74119 

Awaken the Dawn (Broadcast)

Jose-Luis Estrada - Tue, 2014-11-25 14:50

 Awaken the Dawn is the title of my latest piano solo composition. It was dedicated to the congregation of Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa. This is the live broadcast that aired November 9th on KTUL-TV Channel 8.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Preparing for Geoff Baker's book

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 16:16
Jonathan Govias '10 has written a measured response to the recent anxiety in the El Sistema-inspired field caused by the upcoming release of Geoffrey Baker's research into El Sistema in Venezuela. Here is an excerpt: "Humans have a tendency to embrace information that reinforces previously determined viewpoints. This is called... Sistema Fellows Program

Atlanta Music Project annual report

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 16:02
AMP, founded by Dantes Rameau '10, had 30 students during its first year of programming. In 2014, there are 115 students, including 65 participants in AMPlify (co-founded by Aisha Bowden '12). Click here to read the Atlanta Music Project's 2014 annual report. Sistema Fellows Program


Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 15:55
Congratulations to Ayriole Frost '14 and Albert Oppenheimer '12 on the successfully launch of Shift:Englewood on Chicago's South Side! Check out Shift:Englewood's new website and Facebook page. Sistema Fellows Program

Thoughts from Scotland

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 15:37
The following are personal reflections from the recent international conference for teaching artists hosted by Big Noise, an El Sistema-inspired program in Raploch, Scotland. [I'm thinking about] starting community initiatives that involve the families directly, whether that be a Swedish Venstay (friend stay) where they serve cookies and sing and... Sistema Fellows Program

DCYOP update

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 15:17
An excerpt from the DC Youth Orchestra Program's new monthly newsletter: "Located at Garrison Elementary School, the Children’s Orchestra is an after school string program that aims to enhance DCPS elementary students’ interest in learning, strengthen their connection to school, and improve their academic and social skills. Thanks to the... Sistema Fellows Program

The Power of Music

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 15:01
The Annenberg Foundation has funded the creation of a publicly available online resource for music educators about El Sistema-inspired programming. The website features video commentary by Sistema Fellows and related colleagues, including Lorrie Heagy '10, Alvaro Rodas '10, Dan Berkowitz '10, Christine Witkowski '10, and Aisha Bowden '12. Sistema Fellows Program

Sistema Fellows in LA

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 14:44
Fellows and friends recently met for dinner in Los Angeles at the National Guild for Community Arts Education annual conference. Photos by Eriel Huang. Sistema Fellows Program

Professional updates 11/2014

Jose-Luis Estrada - Thu, 2014-11-20 15:55

Two exciting professional updates: 

I am delighted to share news of my recent appointment as program director of Sistema Tulsa, a forthcoming El Sistema-inspired program for the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Sistema Tulsa is a visionary community-wide project of social change through music. Inspired by the educational philosophies of El Sistema in Venezuela, the program will grow and support children and youth musical ensembles that exemplify and nurture a culture of aspiration. In concert with Tulsa Public Schools and numerous community partners, the project will be hosted and led by the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church

have been accepted into the 2015 cohort of Leading Change in Education Systems, a professional program of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The program examines the challenges of leading the development and implementation of effective policy and practice in order to provide quality education.

Mahler 1 with YPO is just two days away!

Preparatory School - Tue, 2014-11-18 09:37

Over the weekend, we spoke with Clara Wang, who gave us some of her thoughts on Mahler 1 with YPO. Clara is from Cambridge, MA and joins YPO as harpist for a third year.

What is your favorite aspect of playing Mahler 1?

“I really enjoy the how music has the ability to invoke emotions and paint such clear pictures in your head. I especially like the klezmer music in the third movement and the entire second movement, since they both make you want to sway with the music.”

How has Maestro Loebel guided the orchestra through the process of learning the symphony?

“Whenever Maestro Loebel wants us to phrase in a certain manner, he has a way of describing the music that makes phrasing easy. Also, he’s always excited for rehearsals and is such a nice and supportive person. Over the past few years that I’ve been in YPO, I think he’s really been able to connect with both the orchestra and its members.”

What is the biggest challenge that you face as a performer of this piece?

“I actually think that the physical location of the harps is the biggest challenge. Since there are so many loud sections, being sandwiched in between the horns and the percussion can be quite the auditory experience. All that aside, though, I think playing together with other the other musicians and creating a cohesive sound and story is always a challenge to be tackled.”

Mahler 1 with YPO: A Violinist’s Perspective

Preparatory School - Sat, 2014-11-15 11:55

We had a chance to speak with YPO Violinist, Elizabeth Davidson-Blythe, on the topic of next week’s YPO concert. Elizabeth is from Beverly, MA and has been playing violin for nine years.  Here’s what she had to say:

“I love the level of detail that Mahler puts into his work. I suppose that this isn’t specific to Mahler 1, but it’s certainly been my favorite part of the learning process so far this semester. Mahler was what Mr. Loebel calls a “control freak.” He wrote down everything that he wanted to be in the piece. There is a different dynamic marking for almost every bar of music, and he never fails to put in markings for expression as well. This level of precision and detail is rarely seen in orchestral music and has been a joy to explore.

Mr. Loebel has done a fabulous job conducting YPO through Mahler 1 this semester (although I don’t think there’s ever been a time when he hasn’t been fantastic). He takes every one of Mahler’s markings very seriously and conducts us through the piece with meticulous care. On the first rehearsal he handed out packets with the translations of all of Mahler’s markings (which are in German), so that we could understand what we were being asked to play.

For me, the biggest challenge has certainly been the stamina factor. It’s a massive piece both in the time it takes to play and the level of energy that is required to play it. We had our first run through last week, where we all found out just how tiring playing this piece is. It isn’t common that you have to be thinking about conserving energy in the first or second movements of a piece. However, the last movement is the longest and requires the most energy, so you have to make sure you can get there without wearing yourself out.

Overall, this has probably been my favorite semester of YPO, and I am very much looking forward to sharing everything we’ve learned and worked on with an audience on the 20th!”

Catching up with Maestro Loebel – YPO’s Mahler 1 Concert

Preparatory School - Fri, 2014-11-14 16:53

In anticipation of next week’s YPO concert, NEC Prep had a chance to speak with Maestro Loebel on the topic of Mahler Symphony no. 1:

How is Mahler’s Symphony no. 1 (1889) different from other works of that time?

“It’s interesting to contrast Mahler’s First Symphony with Brahms’ Fourth which YPO performed this past June. The symphonies were written only a few years apart, but they’re so different from each other. Brahms’ austere orchestration and tight construction make his music sound disciplined and self-contained; Mahler’s music, with its huge orchestration and over-the-top emotion, is anything but.”

How has the treatment of Mahler’s music evolved throughout your lifetime?

“When I was the age of YPO’s musicians, any performance of a Mahler symphony was a special occasion and even fine professional orchestras found some of his music tough going. Nowadays, Mahler is one of our most frequently performed composers; here in Boston, hardly a month goes by without a performance somewhere of a Mahler symphony. It’s especially wonderful to see how the skills of our young musicians have advanced so far that college and high school orchestras (like YPO) can play Mahler with the technical assurance his music requires.”

What difficulties does an orchestra face when they perform something like Mahler 1?

“The biggest challenge for any orchestra that plays Mahler is physical endurance. I’ve always thought that teenagers had unlimited energy but, in fact, the members of YPO have had to learn during our rehearsals how to pace themselves over the course of a demanding 50 minute symphony. As always, their youthful enthusiasm is an inspiration and it’s a real privilege for me to help them discover such great music from the inside out.”

Album Release - Sounds Blooming

Jose-Luis Estrada - Tue, 2014-11-11 15:39
My new piano solo album “Sounds Blooming” is now available via iTunes digital release. The recording was made in Boston’s WGBH studios and features an array of introspective and modernist works by John Cage, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, and others.

My nuevo álbum de piano solista “Sounds Blooming” ya está disponible vía formato digital de iTunes. La grabación fue producida en los estudios de la WGBH en Boston y contiene una colección de obras modernistas e introspectivas de John Cage, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, entre otros.

The Struggle of Harmony and Invention

Huffington College - Thu, 2014-11-06 17:36
The concert was a joy from start to finish. Aisslinn is not just a gifted Baroque violinist playing with true style and power, but a great performer and communicator whose energy and passion for the music set the audience alight Tony Woodcock

The Ensemble, November edition

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2014-11-04 09:16
The November 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 Graciela Briceno, Sistema Fellow '11, is found here. Sistema Fellows Program

Sistema Fellows Program Final Report

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2014-11-04 09:13
Download the Sistema Fellows Program Final Report here (PDF) Sistema Fellows Program

What It Means to be an Artist

Huffington College - Tue, 2014-10-28 12:46
Being an artist in all its multiplicities of characteristics and talents, is among the most demanding of all demands that we can make of ourselves. We have entered a universe of complexity and simplicity, discovery and delusion. It will never finish. It will never be entirely revealed. Tony Woodcock

Realizing Visions

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-10-27 13:38
The following reflection by Eric Booth, Senior Advisor to the Sistema Fellows Program, appears in the Program's final report, to be published in November 2014. Vision is both literal and metaphoric—both the capacity to perceive what is present and to see what is invisible or ready to appear. José Antonio... Sistema Fellows Program