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


Time to ship off to Boston!

Preparatory School - Fri, 2014-06-27 11:59

Hello Everyone,

Here we are on the last day of the tour. What an amazing time we have had together as a group! We are currently waiting in Paris for our flight back to Boston. As luck would have it, there is a piano right here at our gate. The students have been putting on quite the concert here for a very impressed audience. Here is a picture of George Hu playing at our gate.

Moving back to our final day in Budapest yesterday, we had a music filled day complete with an elegant dinner in the heart of the city. We began our day at the Bartók house, which is a beautiful home nestled in a tranquil section of Budapest. It was wonderful to view so many of his beloved furniture pieces and music scores. After viewing Bartók’s house we traveled to Kodály’s apartment, a well known composer, music educator, and colleague of Bartók. Also that afternoon we visited the newly renovated Liszt Academy. The concert hall here is incredibly beautiful and has great acoustics.

We ended our day with a walk around the scenic Buda castle and an elegant dinner complete with live gypsy music.

Now for a few final words from one of our students.

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with Varun Nambikrishnan

1. What was your favorite part of the day?
All of the laughter and fun filled bus rides

2. What was a surprise to you?
What a great roommate Jeffrey is.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
The view from the balcony of the Liszt Apartment

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
Chicken with paprika

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“Wait…. I don’t get it.” – Jacquelyn

As our trip is coming to an end, we could not be any more proud of these students. The have represented themselves and the NEC Prep School with a high level of class and professionalism.

We will see you all back in Boston!

Corey


BOS > DUB

Preparatory School - Thu, 2014-06-26 16:42

MYWE IS IN IRELAND!

After checking in 40 students, 3 chaperones/staff, Mr. Mucci, and 8 super oversized instrument trunks, we finally took off from Boston Logan last night for Dublin International around 10pm. We were delayed about an hour, but due to everyone’s excitement and good friendship – no one seemed to mind.


It was a redeye flight, and only around 5 hours, which to me is shockingly short. It is faster to fly from Boston to Ireland than it is to fly from Boston to California!


Because Ireland is 5 hours ahead of Boston, we arrived at around 9:30am and after gathering our bags, instruments, and trunks, we immediately hopped onto our tour bus and met two key people for our tour: Antoinette the tour guide and Brian the bus driver. The two guided us to downtown Dublin, around Grafton Street to be more precise, to have lunch and browse local shops.


A few of us headed over to Trinity College, which I have heard is considered to be the Harvard of Ireland, to check out their famous library (the biggest research library in the world and the library that the Hogwarts library was modeled after!) and The Book of Kells, which is a decorated copy of the 4 gospels in Latin, that was created in the sixth century! Later on today, we visited a 1000 year old church, and drove past a 900 year old pub. We even saw old stone walls leftover from Medieval Ireland. It is fascinating to see such old architecture and artifacts – especially coming from the American perspective (we started just a few hundred years ago!).


We then checked into the hotel to unload a freshen up before heading over to Dublinia, a hands-on museum which focuses on the Viking and medieval history of the city.


Here’s a photo of and some comments by Celine Lessard-Brandt and Emma Marshall (trombonists) at the tower of Dublinia, who soaked up as much as they possibly could from the museum.


Celine Lessard-Brandt

What was your favorite part of the trip so far?
Take off from Logan Airport. It was exciting.

What do you look forward to most on this tour?
Seeing sheep. I hope we see some sheep in Westport.

What is something culturally eye-opening you have experienced about Ireland so far?
How friendly people are. People in Boston can be so cold.

Emma Marshall

What was your favorite part of the trip so far?
The bus driver and his parking skills.

What do you look forward to most on this tour?
Going to Westport because it looks really picturesque.

What is something culturally eye-opening you have experienced about Ireland so far?
The Irish accents.

-

Tomorrow we are playing our first concert – at outdoor concert at St. Stephen’s Green. More on that to come soon!

Yours in Ireland,
Ana


The Final Concert

Preparatory School - Thu, 2014-06-26 03:30

Hello Everyone,

It has been a lovely day here in Budapest. The weather was beautiful and the students played a great final concert. We managed to fit in a bit of sightseeing amongst the practice time the students were given at the Bartók Conservatory for the their final tour concert.

We began our day at the conservatory and the students had the entire morning to practice and polish their repertoire. It was a really productive morning of rehearsals. As the afternoon approached we took a break to get some lunch. The food here in Budapest is so good and very hearty.

After lunch we walked over to visit the Liszt apartment. His apartment was only three rooms, but there are many personal items of his, music, furniture and multiple pianos that are all packed in for viewing. It was really interesting to view these pieces of such an inspiring and impactful composer. Below you will find a picture of the students around one of Liszt’s pianos, coincidently made in Boston.

Later that evening we returned to the Bartók Conservatory for the recital in the János Ferencsik concert hall. All of the students played so well and the audience here in Budapest really loved them. We could not be more proud of these talented students!

Now to hear from two more of the students.

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with Audrey Lee

1. What was you favorite part of the day?
Visiting the Liszt Apartment

2. What was a surprise to you?
That we got free soda drinks for a small delay of our rehearsals today. It was very nice and generous of the tour company.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
The Liszt Square with all the shops because of the nice weather today.

4. What was your favorite food you ate today?
The beef tartar was surprisingly good.

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“The moral of the story is that snow tires don’t sing.” -Bryan McGuiggin

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with Jeffrey Loh

1. What was you favorite part of the day?
Free beverages at dinner and the unlimited fried chicken and Coca-Cola

2. What was a surprise to you?
How many Burger Kings there are in Budapest

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
Varun’s face in the morning

4. What was your favorite food you ate today?
Fried Chicken

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“Free Soda Drinks!” – All of the students


Farewell Vienna…. Hello Budapest!

Preparatory School - Tue, 2014-06-24 19:59

Hello Everyone,

We have arrived safely in Budapest! Earlier this morning we departed from Vienna and made our way to Budapest. It was another day full of beautiful sights and music.

When we first arrived in Budapest this afternoon, we drove up the very steep hill to the Citadella. From the Citadella we had a beautiful view of the entire city.

After taking plenty of pictures of the stunning view, we checked into our hotel. We had some time for lunch and then we were off to the Bartók Conservatory for our masterclass with pianist, Gábor Eckhardt, a faculty member at the Liszt Academy.

Five of the students had to opportunity to play for Professor Eckhardt and work with him one on one. All the students played very well and were very receptive to the feedback and comments Professor Eckhardt gave them. He was very impressed with their playing level and preparation. We are all so proud of the students! For a special treat at the end of the masterclass, Professor Eckhardt had one of his students at the conservatory perform for us.

After the masterclass was complete we were off to the Danube River for a dinner cruise. We were very fortunate to have the boat completely to ourselves while we dined. As the sun set over the river, the city began to light up everywhere. What more could we ask for? Gorgeous views, delicious food, great conversation and lots of laughs. I’m sure you can tell that we had an absolutely wonderful time.

Tomorrow will be a bit more sight-seeing and the students final concert at the Bartók Conservatory. Below is a picture of George Hu presenting the concert poster outside of the conservatory.

Now for another round of comments from two of the students.

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with Ariane Bowers
1. What was your favorite part of the day?
The masterclass at the Bartok Conservatory and the student performance that followed.

2. What was a surprise to you?
How different the general culture is in Budapest compared to Vienna.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
The view of the Parliament building from the deck of the boat.

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
The fruit cup dessert on the boat.

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“If you play that game every time I say something stupid, we’re going to have a long day..” -Varun Nambikrishnan

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with Fernando Lopez
1. What was your favorite part of the day?
The masterclass and seeing Varun this morning.

2. What was a surprise to you?
The exchange rate for the currency and how many times the church bells rang while Bryan was playing during the masterclass.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
The Danube River at night from the top of the boat.

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
The dessert from dinner tonight on the cruise.

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“It’s how many teddybears we have.” – Varun Nambikrishnan


The Palace Life For Me

Preparatory School - Mon, 2014-06-23 17:54

We have come to the end of our final day here in Vienna and we have had a wonderful time on the tour thus far. There have been a lot of laughs and the students have played very well at their performances. The last two locations we visited today were the Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt and the Habsburg family summer palace, Schönbrunn.

The Esterházy Palace was our first stop this morning. The palace is located outside of Vienna in the city of Eisenstadt. It is a picturesque town with many shops and restaurants along cobblestone streets. The significance of this palace for our group is that Haydn was hired by the Esterházy family as their court musician for many years. He is buried in a mausoleum in Haydnkirche located in Eisenstadt. We had the opportunity to visit the church and see his mausoleum.

Later in the morning we visited the Esterházy Palace and the beautiful concert hall in the palace, Haydnsaal. In this hall Haydn performed and premiered many of his well known compositions. Below you will find a couple pictures of our group visiting the palace and the concert hall.

The second portion of the day was spent at the Habsburg family summer palace, Schönbrunn. The palace is simply gorgeous inside and out. From the grand salons to the breathtaking gardens. It was here in the palace where a six year old Mozart played and impressed the royal family with his musical ability.

It was a beautiful day here in Austria and the entire group enjoyed visiting both of the palaces. Now we will here from a couple of the students.

5 Things about my day on the piano tour with Erica Loh

1. What was your favorite part of the day.
Walking through the inside of the Schönbrunn Palace. The paintings of all the scenery were really impressive and detailed.

2. What was a surprise to you?
How crazily long Empress Elisabeth’s, “Sissy,” hair was.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
The view of the Schönbrunn Palace from on the hill in the Gloriette

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
The interesting food I ate at Haydnbräu, a restaurant in Eisenstadt

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“Why don’t you just read the English version over there…. What? That’s not even English.”

5 Things about my day on the piano tour with Ellen Askey

1. What was your favorite part of the day.
I had a relaxing lunch with Erica, at the lovely restaurant Haydnbräu. It is tucked down a side street by the palace in Eisenstadt.

2. What was a surprise to you?
I was surprised by the extremely poor condition and dustiness of the un-restored chandelier in the Esterházy palace, compared to the gold lustrous restored chandeliers.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
Looking down on the Schönbrunn palace from the hill on the Gloriette

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
A lovely pork dish for lunch at Haydnbräu. The pork pieces were cooked on kabobs and wrapped in bacon with deliciously flavorful sauce with mushrooms and veggies. Yum!

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
(After five minutes of trying, unsuccessfully, to decipher the German lunch menu) our waitor said “You know there’s an English Menu…”


The Homes of Inspiring Composers

Preparatory School - Sun, 2014-06-22 18:24

Hello Everyone,

What another fun day here in Vienna. We had the opportunity to visit one of the many apartments Beethoven lived in, as well as the home were Schubert was born.

Our first stop touring around this morning was the Schubert house. This house was were Franz Schubert was born. It is a small humble apartment, but has a beautiful courtyard. Inside the house there are many personal items, including his glasses, and manuscripts of his compositions. The students enjoyed looking at the original manuscripts of repertoire they themselves have played. There is also a piano of his in the museum. Below you find a picture of the students around Schubert’s piano.

After leaving the Schubert house we traveled to the Beethoven Pasqualatihaus. This is one of the many apartments the he lived in and composed many of his well known compositions. In this house he composed the opera Fidelio, his 5th, 7th, and 8th Symphonies, the Piano Trio in B-Flat Major, and Für Elise. Similarly to the Schubert house, there were many manuscripts of his compositions as well as one of his pianos. Below you will find a picture of the students with Marilyn Roth around Beethoven’s piano.

After touring these inspiring homes we had a chance to walk around the beautiful rose garden in the center of Vienna. It was absolutely gorgeous and the beautiful weather we had today only amplified its beauty.

Now to hear from more of our students reflecting on their last couple of days here in Vienna:

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with Jacquelyn Ho

1. What was your favorite part of the day?
Walking around the rose garden

2. What was a surprise to you?
How big the Mozarthaus was compared to the Schubert and Beethoven house.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
The view of Schubert’s courtyard

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
Schnitzel

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“Mozart wouldn’t mind us talking about this…” Said by Bryan McGuiggin

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with Bryan McGuiggin

1. What was your favorite part of the day?
The performance in Mozarthaus. The acoustics were really interesting and it was great performing in such a historic place.

2. What was a surprise to you?
How photogenic Corey is.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
The view of the Austrian National Library from the Rose Garden

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
Viennese Pork Dumplings

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“Has anybody got any pots and pans?” Said by George Hu

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with Valerie Zhao

1. What was your favorite part of the day?
Relaxing before our performance at the Mozarthaus.

2. What was a surprise to you?
Viennese Dumplings are very different from Asian ones.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
The Rose Garden

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
Palatschinke, fruit jam wrapped in a thin pancake, topped with sugar.

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“It is hard for us to always pay attention to the bike paths” Said by Marilyn Roth

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with Julian Grabarek

1. What was your favorite part of the day?
The performance in Mozarthaus, I thought I played really well. I also enjoyed the Beethoven house.

2. What was a surprise to you?
How small Schubert’s apartment was.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
The courtyard at the Schubert House

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
Viennese pork dumplings. They are similar to food my grandmother makes.

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“Annoying Bryan is the best sport there is.” Said by Ariane Bowers


A Day in Mozart’s House

Preparatory School - Sat, 2014-06-21 19:04

Hello Everyone,

We are at the end of another day here in Vienna. What an amazing and inspiring day it has been. How many people can say that they got to spend their Saturday walking around Mozart’s apartment and then playing a concert at his house? Not too many I would guess, but that is how the students spent their day.

With some time scheduled for the students to practice this morning we traveled to Mozarthaus early this afternoon. While visiting the Mozarthaus we toured around looking at original manuscripts of Mozart’s compositions, letters and how he spent his time at home with his family. I found it very inspiring to be able to look out of the windows of Mozart’s apartment knowing that this was his view while composing.

Later in the afternoon we proceeded downstairs in Mozarthaus where the Bösendorfer-Saal is located. All of the students had the chance to practice in the hall before the concert. Below you will find pictures of Varun Nambikrishnan and Jacquelyn Ho rehearsing before the concert.

After the rehearsals were over the students got ready while the concert hall began to fill up very quickly. There were no empty seats for the concert and standing room only. Some of the students and parents who were at the concert last night, at the Musikschule Margareten, came to support the students tonight. It was so wonderful to have them come and support our students.

The concert went very well and the students played beautifully. We are all very proud of their accomplishments and the audience was impressed by the students as well.

After the concert, we had the pleasure of having dinner with the families of the Musikschule Margareten at a restaurant near the Mozarthaus. Watching the students mingle together from both schools as they get to know each other has been a joy to watch. What a great comradery that has been created between the two schools!

As always, until tomorrow!

Corey


So many places to see…

Preparatory School - Fri, 2014-06-20 18:32

Hello Everyone,

We have just finished our second day here in Vienna, and it sure was packed full of sightseeing and ended with a wonderful concert.

Our first stop this morning was at the Belvedere Palace. The grounds were very beautiful and the students enjoyed the amazing city view of Vienna from the palace.

We also visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Doplinger Musikhaus and we took a guided tour of the historical Musikverein Concert Hall. The entire group enjoyed this tour in particular. Not only were we able to visit the main concert hall, “The Great Hall,” we also were able to view the rehearsals spaces and various other performances spaces.

After our visit at the Musikverein, the students had the unforgettable opportunity to play the pianos on the Bösendorfer showroom floor. To be sure not to wear out our welcome… each student played on the pianos one by one. It was so thrilling to see how excited the students were playing on these gorgeous instruments.

After our fun filled day of sightseeing, some of the students took the stage for their first concert here in Vienna. The students performed in an inspiring joint concert with the students of the Musikschule Margareten. For those of us in the audience it was moving to watch the two groups of students come together and give a wonderful performance. The belief that music is a universal language was reiterated during this concert. Below you will find a picture of all the students that performed, from both schools, and our NEC Prep. Piano Department Chair, Marilyn Roth, and the director of the Musikschule Margareten, Elisabeth Eschwé.

And now to hear from a couple of the students:

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with George Hu

1. What was your favorite part of the day?
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Belvedere Palace of Prince Eugene after reading about it in history class.

2. What was a surprise to you?
I never knew that there would be so many concert halls in the Musikverein.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
There was a great view showing Vienna’s skyline from the top of my host family’s apartment.

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
I thought the wiener schnitzel and sausage that I ate today both tasted delicious.

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“Brahms was inspired by Clara Schumann… Hmmm…” said by Varun Nambikrishnan

5 Things about my day on the Piano Tour with Niklas Kniesche

1. What was your favorite part of the day?
Our concert at the Musikschule Margareten and playing the pianos at the Bösendorfer showroom.

2. What was a surprise to you?
The kindness of my host family and how different Vienna is from other parts of Europe.

3. What was your favorite view of the day?
The Belvedere Palace

4. What was your favorite food that you ate today?
The chocolate mousse cake at the reception after the concert.

5. What was your favorite quote you heard someone say today?
“Brahms was inspired by Clara Schumann… Hmmm…” said by Varun Nambikrishnan

More to come tomorrow!

Corey


We have arrived in Vienna!

Preparatory School - Thu, 2014-06-19 17:36

We have officially arrived in Vienna for the beginning of our adventure. Both of our flights were smooth and we enjoyed a brief lay over in Paris. Quite a few of the students took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on some delicious macaroons. Yum!

Upon our arrival, our first stop was to visit the Zentralfriedhof Cemetery where famous composers, such as Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert are buried. One of my favorite memories of the day was when the students bought flowers for the composer of their choice and laid them on their specific grave. Very touching musician moment.

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We also finally met up with the students and families at the Musikschule Maragareten. We will be sharing a collaborative concert with these students tomorrow evening. We were welcomed with such warmth and hospitality. Here are some pictures of the two groups meeting each other for the first time tonight.

Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow!

Best wishes,

Corey


2014 Piano Department Tour – Vienna & Budapest

Preparatory School - Tue, 2014-06-17 21:47

Welcome NEC Community to the 2014 Piano Tour Blog! 

Check in here to follow our adventures while we are abroad in Vienna and Budapest.  We are very excited for our departure tomorrow from Boston to Vienna.  This evening, we are making final preparations, packing our suitcases and the students are polishing their performance repertoire.  We will be posting stories, pictures and more items here on this site while we are overseas.       

While we are in Vienna and Budapest, our students will be performing in several venues.  They will have an exciting collaborative concert with the students of the Musikschule Margareten in Vienna, as well as a performance at the Bösendorfer-Saal in Mozarthaus.  In Budapest, some of the students will have the opportunity to take part in a masterclass at the Bartók Conservatory, with pianist, Gabor Eckhardt , a faculty member at the Liszt Academy.  As a finale to our trip, the students will have their final concert at the Bartók Conservatory. 

We will also have the pleasure of visiting many musical landmarks along our journey.  In Vienna, we will visit The Wiener Musikverein, the Beethoven Pasqualatihaus and travel to Haydnkirche in Eisenstadt. In Budapest, we will visit the Liszt Apartment, Bartók Memorial House and the Kodály Apartment.  There are many more places and adventures on our itinerary and we look forward to sharing them all with you here. 

Best wishes,

Corey King
Program and Operations Manager, NEC Preparatory School

 

 

Below you will find pictures of the students at the 2014 Piano Tour Send-off Concert that took place earlier this month in Jordan Hall:

 Varun Nambikrishnan, NEC Prep Student

 

 Ellen Askey, NEC Prep. Student

 Julian Grabarek, NEC Prep. Student

 All of the students participating in the Piano Department Tour

 


Las Orquestas Infantiles y Juveniles de México inspiradas por El Sistema—legado, evolución y desafíos

Jose-Luis Estrada - Thu, 2014-06-12 19:45



ENSAYO - Las Orquestas Infantiles y Juveniles de México inspiradas por El Sistema—legado, evolución y desafíos.

Por José Luis Hernández-Estrada - Junio de 2014 

El movimiento de las orquestas infantiles y juveniles de México tiene su génesis en la incansable gestión del ilustre maestro mexicano Eduardo Mata como director huésped principal al frente de la Orquesta Sinfónica Simon Bolívar de Venezuela a mediados de los años ochenta. El músico oaxaqueño, convencido de que el proyecto artístico/social venezolano reunía los elementos para trazar nuevos horizontes en la constitución del quehacer cultural en México, propone ante el gobierno Mexicano la sistematización y masificación de la enseñanza musical con el objeto de replicar la experiencia de ese mismo programa, conocido universalmente como “El Sistema,” el proyecto de acción social por la música concebido por el músico, economista, y reformador social José Antonio Abreu. El Maestro Mata,  pionero de la introducción en México del modelo venezolano de coros y orquestas infantiles y juveniles, postulaba el programa como una herramienta transcendental para “cambiar el perfil sociológico de un país con las características como las de México y otros países Latinoamericanos en ascendente desarrollo.”

La incursión del Maestro Mata en Venezuela fue derivada de la afectuosa relación profesional que en su momento cultivo su maestro y también decano de la música mexicana Carlos Chávez con los músicos de ese país. Gracias a la invitación que les hiciera el Presidente Luis Echeverria, México fue el primer destino internacional de la Orquesta Simon Bolívar de Venezuela. En esa ocasión Chávez escucho la orquesta en el Palacio de Bellas Artes y ofreció su apoyo decidido al proyecto convirtiéndose así como el primer artista extranjero invitado y mentor de aquellos jóvenes promesa venezolanos. Con ellos trabajo arduamente transmitiéndoles sus conocimientos pedagógicos y proeza técnica para prepararlos en su debut dentro del Festival Mundial de las Orquestas de Aberdeen en Escocia en 1976. Ahí interpretaron algunas de sus obras y la Sinfonía Heroica de Beethoven llevandose todos los elogios de la crítica especializada. Para El Sistema, la temprana confluencia entre Carlos Chávez y José Antonio Abreu es importante por el hecho que históricamente coincidieron en el pensar y actuar de la música como herramienta de transformación social y como forma de elevar a Latinoamérica hacia la cumbre de la cultura universal. 

Ya en 1989, surge en México el primer proyecto formal inspirado por esa experiencia Venezolana liderado por el director de orquesta y educador musical Fernando Lozano y Manuel de la Cera, quien fuera director del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes. Fueron ellos quienes viajaron a ese país sudamericano para palpar la experiencia que tanto motivaba al maestro Mata. Ese primer encuentro fue materializado en la fundación del programa de Orquestas y Coros Juveniles de la Ciudad de México, proyecto que creo una docena de “orquestas-escuelas” delegacionales y comunitarias. En los años siguientes, y a raíz de la necesidad de expandir el proyecto a un plano regional y nacional, se crea el programa de Coros y Orquestas Juveniles de México A.C., una organización civil que en 1996 se convirtiera en lo que hoy conocemos como el Sistema Nacional de Fomento Musical (SNFM) del CONACULTA, organización que atiende, según cifras oficiales a 114 ensambles orquestales afiliados con alrededor de 10,000 beneficiarios. Por su parte el SNFM, organiza un encuentro nacional de orquestas (nivel avanzado), encuentros regionales de orquestas juveniles e infantiles (nivel inicial e intermedio),  cursos para directores orquestales, servicio de laudería y lutería para reparación y mantenimiento de instrumentos, entre otros proyectos de apoyo a nivel nacional. Los mas novedosos y de mayor proyección incluyen la Orquesta-Escuela Carlos Chávez (programa de Licenciatura Instrumentista avalado por la  Secretaria de Educación Publica) y la Orquesta Infantil y Juvenil de México, ambos proyectos destinados en parte a la identificación y desarrollo de talentos. 

En el 2008, el SNFM bajo la dirección de Sergio Ramírez Cárdenas crea el programa de Núcleos Comunitarios de Aprendizaje Musical (NUCAM), una iniciativa formal con miras a replicar el modelo y red de núcleos Venezolanos. Estos centros, localizados en municipios con bajo índice de desarrollo educativo y socioeconómico, se concebían como herramienta de “fomento y desarrollo social a través de la  instrucción y la práctica colectiva de la música.” El proyecto quedo comprendido dentro del Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2006-2012 y se propuso la meta de inaugurar un centro de educación musical para cada una de las entidades federativas (32 en total). Al final de esa administración federal se logro instituir 12 núcleos atendiendo a 1,000 beneficiarios en 8 estados. Aun así, un logro importante y a su vez catalizador de otros proyectos equivalentes. En el 2009 e inspirado en el trabajo que desde el 1998 venia realizando el violinista Julio Saldaña con las comunidades mas desprotegidas de Puebla surge de la iniciativa privada el  Programa Musical Esperanza Azteca (PROMESA), un proyecto que persigue los ideales de la experiencia Venezolana. PROMESA es liderado por el empresario mexicano Ricardo Salinas Pliego quien con su equipo de trabajo busca sistematizar la experiencia de la instrucción y aprendizaje orquestal y coral en todo el país. El proyecto cuenta con un amplio respaldo económico del gobierno federal a través del CONACULTA aplicando un novedoso esquema de co-participación entre gobiernos estatales y la iniciativa privada. Desde 2009, ya se han fundado más de 60 orquestas sinfónicas y coros en el interior de la República mexicana beneficiando a mas de 13 mil niños y jóvenes que junto con sus 800 maestros, además de aprender música, desarrollan "altos valores como la disciplina, la búsqueda de la excelencia y el trabajo en equipo." Dentro de la iniciativa cabe destacar el impulso temprano de personalidades como Leonor Mastretta, el chelista Carlos Prieto, y Benjamin Zander, el director de la Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.


En la actualidad el panorama para los proyectos de transformación social a través de la música en México es ampliamente promisorio. El discurso político de la recién instalada administración federal guiada por el Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto enfatiza importantes matices en torno al uso de la cultura como herramienta de concertación y desarrollo comunitario. El 12 de Diciembre del 2012 durante la inauguración del Centro de Artes Musicales de Tijuana y acompañado por el nuevo Presidente del CONACULTA, Rafael Tovar y de Teresa,  anuncio “el gran reto que tenemos en el ámbito cultural: el hacer de éste un derecho social, una garantía que el Gobierno tendrá que cuidar y privilegiar, que tendrá que establecer toda una línea de acción de políticas públicas orientadas realmente a garantizar este derecho social de los mexicanos.” En ese mismo evento, le instruyo al Presidente del CONACULTA tener muy en cuenta dentro de la agenda nacional los proyectos de orquestas y coros juveniles que ahonden en la reparación del tejido social de comunidades afectadas por la violencia e inseguridad. Derivado de ese mandato presidencial, el CONACULTA ha impulsado su iniciativa Música en Armonía que busca unificar e impulsar las experiencias y manifestaciones artístico/culturales existentes para fortalecer la identidad nacional y regenerar el tejido social a través del arte y su inherente belleza estética. Este nuevo lanzamiento tiene como impulsores artísticos a el maestro Eduardo García Barrios y el compositor mexicano Arturo Márquez, quien además de dedicar parte de su oficio a la composición de obras de nivel infantil (Alas a Malala es su mas reciente trabajo) también ha venido realizando una labor dentro de la conformación de bandas comunitarias con su programa local Crecer con Música. La iniciativa federal ya ha despegado y se fortalece con una agenda de impartición de talleres a nivel nacional y una concertación con la sociedad civil, conservatorios, y estados que inician nuevos proyectos orquestales académicos y/o comunitarios. 

Dado a la estimulación que ha generado el amplio proyecto artístico/social venezolano y derivado de las giras de sus orquestas cumbres, documentales, publicaciones y críticas periodísticas que las acreditan, se han generado en México importantes proyectos de orquestas PRE-profesionales de alto rendimiento o de proyección nacional. La experiencia Venezolana, misma que trasmite un “animo por la masificación de la búsqueda de la excelencia” (como lo expreso el Maestro Abreu en su reciente ponencia magistral en el Carnegie Hall de Nueva York) ha dado pie a numerosos proyectos que buscan alcanzar logros artísticos similares a los de ensambles tan emblemáticos como la Orquesta Simon Bolívar de Venezuela o la Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil “Teresa Carreño" que han marcado la pauta y nivel de referencia. Estos proyectos de audición o  selección incluyen aquellos cobijados por instituciones de gobierno, conservatorios, orquestas profesionales, y otros programas de desarrollo musical.  Entre ellos destacan la Orquesta Sinfónica Infantil de México y la Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Carlos Chávez del SNFM antes mencionadas; la Orquesta de la Escuela Nacional de Música y la recién formada Orquesta Juvenil Universitaria Eduardo Mata de la OFUNAM; el Ensamble Instrumenta Oaxaca; y la Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil del Estado de Veracruz adscrita al Instituto Superior de Música del Estado de Veracruz. Todas estas se perfilan a una posible internacionalización y cuentan con el rigor técnico para abordar partituras orquestales de nivel avanzado. En el 2012, la Orquesta Juvenil Carlos Chávez fue invitada a realizar un encuentro musical dentro del Youth in Music Festival que organizo la Chicago Symphony Orchestra. La Orquesta Sinfónica Infantil de México a sus 13 años de fundación, cuenta en su trayectoria con algunas giras internacionales, entre ellas las realizadas en Estados Unidos y España.

Si bien existen proyectos que son bien llevados a cabo, muchos de ellos no continúan por la falta de recursos económicos o la redefinición de prioridades del Estado entre las transiciones de gobierno federal. Es por ello que muchos de los proyectos existentes tendrán que migrar hacia un plano de autosuficiencia y sustentabilidad animando a la sociedad civil a participar en su construcción. Este esquema ya comienza a ser practicado. Cabe destacar algunos proyectos regidos por patronatos locales en búsqueda de la consolidación de una industria cultural sustentable y emanada de las mismas comunidades beneficiadas (un gran reto para la actual administración federal). Por ejemplo, el proyecto de la Orquesta de Baja California que incorpora un proyecto artístico a la par de un proyecto estado/sociedad civil de núcleos comunitarios denominado Redes 2025. En Guadalajara, existe un proyecto de Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil sustentada en su totalidad por la iniciativa civil con una base de más de 56 músicos jaliscienses que ejercen la práctica orquestal, formando parte de un proceso académico conformado por cursos, encuentros e intercambios, dentro de una red musical-educativa no gubernamental. En el marco de proyectos interdependientes y financiamiento propio o compartido también figuran los realizados en Monterrey y  Mérida—dos importantes capitales mexicanas. Un claro ejemplo ya consolidado es del Sistema Estatal de Orquestas de Yucatán,  que  trabaja con más de 300 beneficiarios y se desarrolla en los municipios de Timucuy, Izamal, Motul formando parte del Programa Estatal de Fomento Musical para la Niñez y la Juventud. Otro proyecto que apunta a logros similares es el que fuera anunciado y promovido por el tenor Placido Domingo a finales del 2012 en Guerrero, también como sistema estatal de orquestas. En Monterrey, el proyecto denominado “El Sistema México,” una asociación de carácter civil y benéfico encargada de implementar programas de música en escuelas públicas de esa entidad, cuenta con un núcleo enfocado a una comunidad escolar conocida como “La Ciudad de los Niños.” En San Luis Potosí la Fundación Música para la Vida A.C. es el motor que guía la conformación de 10 orquestas infantiles en ese estado en cooperación con el gobierno estatal. 

Los conservatorios ocupan también un lugar importante en el proceso de la educación musical en México. De ellas emanan también coros y orquestas que forman parte del plan de estudios mas no son consideradas prioritarias como foco de formación académica. El Conservatorio Nacional de Música,  con más de 140 años de labores ininterrumpidas ha formado profesionales que son baluartes en el impulso de la educación, investigación y difusión de la música en México. En esta institución se han formado muchos de los más destacados creadores e intérpretes de la música nacional. Cabe destacar la labor docente del Maestro Carlos Chávez quien desarrolló las carreras de compositor, director de orquesta y profesor especializado en la enseñanza musical en sus diferentes modalidades. Su pensar influye profundamente en la conceptualización de ese mismo proyecto. Entre los conservatorios actuales, también destacan los apartados de propuestas novedosas  de formación musical/humanista como por ejemplo el Bachillerato en Música y Humanidades del Conservatorio de las Rosas en Morelia, un programa pensado con el propósito de adquirir las bases necesarias para realizar posteriormente estudios de licenciatura en música a través de una formación en los ámbitos de las disciplinas musicales, humanidades, y conocimientos científicos. En la Ciudad de México, la Escuela de Música Vida y Movimiento “Ollin Yoliztli” (fundada en 1978), tiene como objetivo la formación de jóvenes músicos de alto nivel. Según datos públicos la integran 250 alumnos distribuidos en las 20 especialidades de nivel medio superior y superior que son impartidas por 75 docentes. En Monterrey, la Escuela Superior de Música y Danza cuenta con un apartado de Talleres Infantiles de Iniciación Musical en donde se desarrolla hasta nueve horas a la semana, desde la técnica instrumental y otros conocimientos teóricos. Otros conservatorios en Mazatlán, Puebla, y Matamoros ofrecen ofertas educativas similares a las aquí mencionadas.


Todas estas manifestaciones artísticas, propuestas educativas, y proyectos actuales que conforman el movimiento de orquestas infantiles y juveniles mexicanas aquí resumido, son prueba de la gran devoción y compromiso de jóvenes, intelectuales, gobiernos, particulares, y empresas culturales por hacer de la música  una parte central de la vida publica, social, y artística del país. Son muchas las iniciativas de orquestas infantiles,  juveniles, PRE-profesionales, y profesionales (no abordadas aquí) que ya existen en México. Se han fortalecido y multiplicado a lo largo de los años pero en su gran mayoría continúan en etapa de desarrollo. Son pocas las iniciativas que han llegado a consolidarse como entes sistemáticos a nivel organizacional o que cuenten con productos artísticos de alto rendimiento y con miras a alcanzar un nivel de talla mundial. No existe a la fecha algún proyecto o alianza de carácter nacional que reúna las virtudes y fortalezas de tan importantes esfuerzos compartidos. Más inquietante aun es que por el momento ningún proyecto privado o del Estado haya sido sometido a estudios de impacto longitudinal. ¿Como podremos abogar por todos estos proyectos de carácter social si no nos hemos preocupado por probar su capacidad para provocar un auténtico cambio transformador? La experiencia venezolana nos muestra el compromiso por estos esfuerzos. Basta con revisar los proyectos de medición y evaluación del Banco Inter-Americano de Desarrollo, desde donde se han realizado estudios para comprobar y validar el trabajo de las orquestas infantiles y juveniles dentro del ámbito de regeneración social. Los resultados son favorables y contundentes. (Estos mismos han coadyuvado a la obtención de sendos préstamos y financiamiento para fortalecer su infraestructura y desarrollo institucional.)

En México son muchos los estudiantes de música pero pocos los que logran obtener un titulo académico en la materia aun cuando existe el deseo y la voluntad. Son pocos los espacios disponibles para estudiar y desarrollarse profesionalmente. Los presupuestos que rigen las principales facultades de música del país no son los adecuados. Dado el pujante desarrollo de El Sistema en México, estamos ante una coyuntura que pudiera señalizar nuevos rumbos dentro de la educación musical en nuestro país. Ya desde años atrás, para el historiador y fundador del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas Manuel Toussaint, para lograr un artista completo hacia falta motivarlos y fomentar su inserción en el mundo cultural y promover su participación en la enseñanza. El Maestro Abreu en entrevista para La Jornada va mas allá al decir que “No pueden ser simples instructores. Tienen que ser apóstoles, hombres y mujeres consagrados de corazón a la tarea.” 

Es por ello que tenemos que renovar el papel del músico bajo una nueva figura de artista/ciudadano, oportunidad que los conservatorios y universidades pudieran adoptar para renovarse y coadyuvar en la formación de artistas comprometidos con su arte y la justicia social. Ya no el músico solo como intérprete de la experiencia estética si no como forjador de un futuro digno para las nuevas generaciones a través de ese mismo arte vivo y consciente. Esto es precisamente lo que en su momento postulo el Maestro José Vasconcelos al reconocer que sobre toda determinación o definición el “arte debe comprometerse con los problemas sociales y culturas del país.” Si se quiere llegar a formar un movimiento o movimientos de orquestas nacional, organizado, sustentable y de innovación pedagógica, debemos impulsar a una nueva generación de jóvenes que nos ayuden a formular visiones renovadas del quehacer musical mexicano.  Su inclusión dentro de ese nuevo marco social abrirá su campo de acción, mercado laboral, y dignificación. Esto debe de tener un apartado especial dentro de la política cultural mexicana.

Urge también cohesionar las iniciativas existentes como proyectos interdependientes y no aislados. Habrá que buscar las formas para que las más importantes iniciativas puedan trabajar en conjunto (dentro de algún proyecto o proyectos emblemáticos). Es necesario contar con sedes y espacios para la práctica orquestal de carácter nacional pero a su vez descentralizados. Rescatable, esta por ejemplo, la propuesta del SNFM de crear Centros Regionales de Entrenamiento Musical, iniciativa que no vio la luz en la pasada administración federal. Al mismo tiempo, debemos reconocernos como parte de un movimiento orquestal mas globalizado, extrayendo los mejores maestros, técnicas, y perspectivas del exterior, y al mismo tiempo, convirtiéndolas en experiencias inherentemente mexicanas, formula que ha rendido importantes frutos en Venezuela (en donde dentro del gran proyecto social que les ocupa, nunca se ha perdido de vista la concertación de la excelencia artística y su identidad nacional). 


Habremos de tener una visión ganadora y de éxito. Que los mejores músicos y orquestas se presenten en las mejores salas del mundo y participen de encuentros internacionales para compartir de experiencias que motiven a todos a seguir superándose y encontrarse relevantes dentro de la cultura universal. Comparto las enseñanzas del Maestro Abreu al decir que el enfoque central de El Sistema es primordialmente social—no es formar músicos profesionales—si no encauzar a la juventud a encontrarse y reflejarse en los caminos del bien, la verdad, y la belleza. Bien porque el ejercicio colectivo de la música implica concertación y por ende empatía.  Verdad porque la música es una ciencia exacta y adquiere su forma dentro de la disciplina y proporciones puntuales de la estética. Belleza porque la música es un misterio generador de perfección—es algo infinito—resplandeciente y sonoro al mismo tiempo. Estas son las condiciones sociales de la música y las que denotan su inmensa riqueza espiritual. Entonces nuestro quehacer tiene que ser sinónimo de esa misma integridad. Cualquier programa pensado desde un planteamiento social y para las masas nunca debe de ser un programa pobre. Aquellos que menos tienen merecen de los mejores maestros, instrumentos, salas de ensayo, y oportunidades que los hagan salir adelante. México tiene la capacidad de brindar a sus jóvenes lo mejor. 

Quiero imaginar que en un futuro cuando los sistemas de orquestas y agrupaciones comunitarias crezcan de tal manera que cada pueblo y ciudad tenga una orquesta o un coro del cual se sientan orgullosos, habrán de tener la dicha también de compartir su arte (emanado de su suelo y experiencia colectiva) en las máximas catedrales de la música. Ellos contarán su historia de éxito en el Palacio de Bellas Artes de México, en el Festival de Salzburgo o el Carnegie Hall de Nueva York. Que de esa misma familia que toca y canta con tesón y alegría surgirá un grupo de nuevos ciudadanos comprometidos con el perfeccionamiento de la educación y la ciencia, las letras y las leyes. Y otros que creen la nueva escuela de composición musical que aumente el linaje de Chávez, Revueltas, Márquez y Lavista. Que descubran y enseñen al próximo Gustavo Dudamel y se conviertan en los nuevos Solistas de México.  Es ahí mismo, encumbrado en la magnitud de aspiraciones colectivas y sueños compartidos, donde cualquier proyecto que enaltezca nuestra mexicanidad ha de encontrar su rumbo. Y para convencer habrá que apostarle a la excelencia y tener la fe de que todo puede ser posible. Este ideal será cual tendrá que animar esa gran red orquestal que ya se empieza a vislumbrar en México.

Referencias: 

"Contra La Delincuencia Y Drogadicción: Música." Proceso., Julio 2002. 

Cuesta, José. Music to My Ears: The (Many) Socio-Economic Benefits of Music Training Programs. Tech. Washington: Inter-American Development Bank, 2008. 

Inter-American Development Bank.  “Venezuela. Propuesta de préstamo para un programa de apoyo al Centro de Acción Social por la Música – Fase II” PR-3161, IADB, Washington DC. USA., 2007. 

CONACULTA. Música En Armonía, Una Gran Base Social Para El Beneficio De Miles De Niños Y Jóvenes Del País. 2013 ed. Mexico, DF.: CONACULTA, 2013. Num. 2024. 

Peña Nieto, Enrique. "Discurso: Enrique Peña Nieto Inauguración Del Centro De Artes Musícales." Tijuana, MX. 12 Dic. 2012. Web. <http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/articulos-prensa/inauguracion-del-centro-de-artes-musicales/>.

Tello, Judith. "Combatir La Violencia Con Música." Proceso., 3 May. 2013. 

Usi, Eva. "Nuestro Proyecto Busca Revertir la Tragedia Del Centralismo: Abreu." La Jornada., 30 Oct. 2007. 

Fotografías: Orquesta Sinfónica Infantil de Mexico, Orquesta Sinfónica Esperanza Azteca, Ensamble Instrumenta Oaxaca, Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil IEEPO 


Acerca del autor: José Luis Hernández-Estrada es un músico de origen mexicano. Como Sistema Fellow del New England Conservatory forma parte de una nueva generación de artistas “comprometidos con su arte y la justicia social” impulsados por el Maestro José Antonio Abreu. Es egresado de Maestría en Música por la University of Texas Pan-American y autor del libro “Aesthetics of Generosity: El Sistema, Music Education, and Social Change.” 

The Ensemble, June edition

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-06-09 14:52
The June 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

Tony Woodcock in Juneau, Alaska

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-06-09 14:25
NEC President Tony Woodcock delivers a speech about El Sistema and the Sistema Fellows Program, with Lorrie Heagy (Sistema Fellow '10) and JAMM students at the Juneau World Affairs Council. Download JAMM's 2013-2014 final report here. Sistema Fellows Program

LIFE IS A LOT LIKE JAZZ. IT'S BEST WHEN YOU IMPROVISE. GEORGE GERSHWIN