Take A Stand takeaways, part 3

Exploring El Sistema - Wed, 2014-02-26 11:07
Luis von Ahn had a question: Was it possible to get 100 million people to translate the web into every major language, for free? A disproportionately large amount of information on the Internet is in English. Von Ahn wondered how he could harness the power of massive online collaboration and... Sistema Fellows Program

Take A Stand takeaways, part 2

Exploring El Sistema - Wed, 2014-02-26 11:03
The Take A Stand conference led me to think about how El Sistema-inspired programs can foster opportunities for collaborative creative projects that deal with social issues. Guy Raz started off the symposium by reminding us of artistic works that were catalysts for, or highlighted, a change in society (e.g. Picasso's... Sistema Fellows Program

Take A Stand takeaways, part 1

Exploring El Sistema - Wed, 2014-02-26 10:52
As I flew back to Boston from Los Angeles following the Take A Stand conference, I was struck by the diversity of landscape of the United States outside my window. The cultures and communities that lie within, and how music is woven in to that fabric. In his session entitled... Sistema Fellows Program

Above all else: Joy

Jose-Luis Estrada - Wed, 2014-02-26 01:41

The gardens at the Philbrook

I was recently invited to participate in a concert with members of the Tulsa Symphony at the elegant Boston Avenue Church of Tulsa. It was a wonderful experience. One of my favorite things about traveling is seeing new places and meeting new friends. I certainly made many friends there! I am very fond of museums and my gracious hostess, Janet, took the time to share many of the open secrets surrounding the nationally-renowned Philbrook Museum. In our tour, she pointed out a work by sculptor Harriet Frishmuth. She was one of the very few American students of the great master Auguste Rodin. The story goes that as a young sculptor she had struggled with finding her own personal stamp and was looking for someone or something to inspire that gift. The great French master had one piece of advice for her—show joy. This reminded me of Salzburg. A few months ago, I traveled there to bear witness yet again to the miracle of El Sistema, the system of youth orchestras and choirs envisioned by the Venezuelan social reformer Jose Antonio Abreu. As we were both listening to a very young conductor lead the rehearsal of a children’s orchestra, he noticed something was not quite right. There were some minor issues with the ensemble and the intonation was somewhat scrappy. (This was an important concert, the stakes were very high.) Maestro Abreu, known to be conscientious for precision and of the slightest of technical details didn’t try to point to these issues. Instead, he quickly interjected to offer advice. “Muestren Alegría,” “Show Joy,” he said to the musicians. With that brilliant stroke the room began to light up, there were smiles exchanged. Everyone became much less worried of the technical hurdles and more into the feeling of letting go and enjoying themselves. That feeling was contagious even to the dozen or so people that were at the rehearsal. It was then that the music really happened. It was a reminder to all that joy has to be one of the most important ingredients of artistic transcendence and the only vehicle for authentic communication. In the words of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, showing joy generates “a net of love by which you can catch souls.” And that is the greatest gift an artist can offer. Both Abreu and Rodin are right—it is joy that makes all the difference. 

Perspectives on El Sistema

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2014-02-25 12:02
Perspectives on El Sistema has been prepared by the 2014 Class of Sistema Fellows at New England Conservatory following our month-long residency in Venezuela in November-December 2013. It has been specifically written in response to a request from Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu for the Sistema Fellows Program to provide El... Sistema Fellows Program

ICAN visit

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2014-02-25 11:53
Photos by Eriel Huang Enjoying one additional day in the Southern California sunshine, the Sistema Fellows traveled up the coast to Santa Barbara on Sunday to visit the Incredible Children's Art Network, where Xochitl Tafoya (Sistema Fellow '13) is the Director of ICAN's three-year-old El Sistema-inspired Music Program. Sistema Fellows Program

Sistema Fellows in LA, Part 2

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2014-02-25 11:41
Thirty of the fifty Sistema Fellows were in LA last week, and we took advantage of the opportunity to gather for a reunion dinner following the conclusion of the Take A Stand conference. Sistema Fellows Program

Early Music Meets the 21st Century

CE Blog - Tue, 2014-02-25 10:47

NEC’s School of Continuing Education Professional Studies Certificate candidate Amy Kao, gave her final recital on Saturday February 22, 2014 in Brown Hall.   Amy performed works by Froberger, Handel, Bach and Scarlatti on a 1987 custom built French double-manual harpsichord  by Allan Winkler.  The harpsichord is based on the work of the Parisian builder Francois Blanchet II and was built here in Boston.

What made this recital even more interesting was that Amy’s entire performance was done without sheet music.  Instead, she chose to use a tablet computer with a foot pedal mechanism to turn the pages of the music which had been scanned into the tablet computer.

A special congratulations to Amy on a great performance and we wish her all the best in the next stage of her musical journey!

      NEC School of Professional Studies Certificate Graduate Amy Kao

Early music meets the 21st century


French double-manual harpsichord by Allan Winkler (notice the tablet computer and foot pedals)

Amy Kao pictured with NEC Faculty John Gibbons (center) and Allan Winkler (craftsman of harpsichord).



Say Yes to Assess: A Starting Point for Assessment

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-20 11:06
Andrea Landin and Elaine Sandoval, Sistema Fellows '13, hosted a discussion of evaluation and assessment at Take A Stand on Friday, February 21. Here is the handout supporting their presentation, and click here for Say Yes to Assess, the paper that the Sistema Fellows Program shared with the field in... Sistema Fellows Program

Sistema Fellows in LA

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-20 10:58
Sistema Fellows and Longy/Bard MAT students gathered for dinner and disucssion on Wednesday evening as a prelude to this week's Take A Stand symposium in Los Angeles. Sistema Fellows Program

A Valentine's Concert

Jose-Luis Estrada - Mon, 2014-02-10 03:29

The ensemble at the Ludwig Symphony festival/concert in Atlanta, GA.

At the Roswell Cultural Center, legendary saxophonist James Houlik from Chicago performed the Atlanta premiere of the Russell Peck “Upward Stream” tenor saxophone concerto. John Lemley of WABE hosted the concert that featured Mexican guest conductor Jose Luis Hernandez-Estrada in Tschaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy. Maestro Ludwig conducted Brahm's Symphony No. 4 and soprano-Megan Mashburn of the Atlanta Opera sang Donizetti’s “Quel guardo il cavaliere” from Don Pasquale and “O luce diquest anima” from Linda di Chamounix. See some behind the scenes footage of Jose Luis' rehearsal for this performance. 

Trickle-down effect

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-06 15:24
As a music educator and administrator, one of the strongest impressions I took away from the experience in Venezuela was the trickle-down effect. From the top down (or perhaps ground up?), to have faith and dedication in the mission while prioritizing the student in every decision. To trust in the... Sistema Fellows Program

A virtual monthly happy hour

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-06 15:15
Excerpted from "If On a Winter's Night, A Traveler": It’s been a very long time since I actively blogged. Now that I’m running Community & Education programs for Orchestra of St. Luke's, the last thing I feel like doing after a long day’s work is sitting at the computer and... Sistema Fellows Program

Coming home

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-06 15:01
I have been deeply blessed with two of life’s greatest joys: traveling and the sharing of music. The adventuring to unexplored places, encountering culture, meeting people, exchanging stories, sharing meals and passing time together: the humble gift of being human. My trip to Venezuela has not been one of earth-shattering,... Sistema Fellows Program

One more Venezuela photo

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-06 14:59
Sistema Fellows Program


Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-06 14:58
Social change through music is a lifestyle that requires total devotion. Some circles call El Sistema a religion, and I can cosign approvingly with that notion. Had it been approached as simply a side project to fill up time between gigs, it would not be what it is today. Despite... Sistema Fellows Program

Tamanaco Hotel portrait

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-06 14:45
The fifth class of Sistema Fellows, on their way to meet with Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu (December 2013). Sistema Fellows Program

The Ensemble, February edition

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-06 14:43
The February edition of Tricia Tunstall and Eric Booth's publication chronicling the emerging field of El Sistema-inspired activity in the US and beyond, including short contributions by three current Sistema Fellows, is found here. Sistema Fellows Program

Choirs in Barquisimeto

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-06 14:38
We met up with the teachers that we had observed in the nucleos at the conservatory during the mornings, where they were more than willing to chat about their experience in El Sistema and answer my long list of questions. Aubree and I caught up with Manual, Jorge, Gustavo and... Sistema Fellows Program

New West Symphony Harmony Project

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-02-06 14:27
It would be false to say that every week was revelatory, that kids always left class with a smile. I think that each student and teacher was tried at more than one point during the semester, and probably asked themselves why they play or teach music. It is because of... Sistema Fellows Program