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


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,

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?

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!


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!


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.


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,


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.


"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. <>.

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

2014 Midwest Seminario

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-06-09 13:57
A gathering of Midwest El Sistema-inspired programs from Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Lexington, and Chicago at Three Rivers School in Cleves, Ohio. Participants included Dayton Philharmonic's Q the Music, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra's North Limestone Music Works (Rachel Hockenberry, Sistema '13), Chicago's Metamorphosis Orchestra Project, COR's Music Project, People's Music School... Sistema Fellows Program

"Passionate about their art and social justice"

Jose-Luis Estrada - Sat, 2014-05-31 00:47

It was a great pleasure to attend the graduation of the fifth and final class of Sistema Fellows—Jose Antonio Abreu’s TED Prize wish to change the world. It was a wonderful time of celebration and connection. I was very happy to visit at the New England Conservatory and see many past and present fellow Fellows who gathered to share and reflect upon our work thus far. I am grateful for the Conservatory’s dedication and investment in the work that we hold dear. The impact that the Fellowship has made upon the field is already vast and far-reaching. “50 gifted young musicians passionate about their art and social justice” have inspired countless of other leaders and cultural institutions across the US and around the world to re-imagine music as vehicle for enacting social action and building hope in society. The Sistema Fellows’ work is helping make music a priority not just in the education realm but also in the social policy sphere by advancing the message that the exercise of music can impact a social transformation, promote integration, and provide a higher quality of life. It has been a tremendous honor to advance and be a part of Maestro Abreu’s vision. I am excited about seeing El Sistema grow and nurturing its development. 
As part of the celebration wrote:
“The Sistema Fellows Program, housed at the NEC, was indeed about more than musicianship. The intensive curriculum focused on leadership and community development, and included a month‐long residency in Venezuela. During this residency, the Fellows saw El Sistema in action and got to know Abreu. For him, an orchestra brings people together, and the US-based Sistema Fellows are ambassadors for his big-picture thinking. They 50 of them landed in the program because of their passion for playing music, teaching music and using music to foster understanding between people of diverse backgrounds.”
The Chair of the Sistema Fellows committee and dear friend Suki de Bragança pointed out in her remarks:
“More than ever I am convinced that each Class of ten was appointed by the Muses to experience growth and discovery together, in short, was compelled to meet at the crossroads of Boston. I applaud our fearless leader Tony Woodcock for pledging to commit the resources to this Program that fosters in this country and beyond the now legendary movement for social change, El Sistema.  My fellow Committee members and I believe that you are entrusted with a precious resource that in five years has already benefitted the communities in which you serve, making an impact on countless children’s lives, neighborhoods, and assisting in the rapid fire growth and high quality of nascent nucleos both in the United States and with our neighbors abroad. Following the model of El Sistema that insists on excellence in music and is based on absolute trust in teachers, peer teaching, and barring exclusion from the right to make music, you too will take these values and as the core group of fifty, transfer this precious legacy on to those who have not been privileged to train directly with NEC.” 

Photo Credits: E. Huang, R. Roberts, Hernandez-Estrada. 

Sistema Fellows Program featured on TED Prize Blog

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-05-29 11:24
On a drizzly spring day in Boston earlier this month, three dozen musicians mingled in the President’s Library of the New England Conservatory, one of the most prestigious music institutions in the country. The weather did not dampen the infectious enthusiasm in the room. After all, 10 of these musicians... Sistema Fellows Program

Musicians in Flight

Huffington College - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:10
Nick Kitchen has found his way into this blog before. He is leader of the Borromeo String Quartet and an extraordinary musician/violinist/scholar whose curiosity is infinite. Tony Woodcock

Fellows at WGBH

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-05-22 12:44
The 2014 Fellows at WGBH's Fraser Performance Studio practicing radio interviewing techniques with the assistance of Benjamin Roe, Managing Director of Classical Services. Sistema Fellows Program

Suki's graduation remarks

Exploring El Sistema - Wed, 2014-05-21 16:56
I warmly greet the Class of Sistema Fellows 2014 and all of those Fellows who came before, and with whom the Friends of the Sistema Fellows have shared such an enriching and meaningful time. More than ever I am convinced that each Class of ten was appointed by the Muses... Sistema Fellows Program

Fifth class graduation and reunion weekend

Exploring El Sistema - Wed, 2014-05-21 16:50
Sistema Fellows Program

Sounds Blooming in Late Spring

Jose-Luis Estrada - Sun, 2014-05-18 19:58
My most recent visit to Boston included recording solo piano at WGBH. I had a wonderful time working at the Fraser Studio and with sound engineer Jane Pipik. I am happy to share that a new album with modernist classical works will be released soon.  I'll look forward to sharing the music as well as the conceptual framework and process of bringing this deeply personal project to fruition. 

May 2014 in Boston, MA