This isn’t new, but hearing John Heiss talk about Stravinsky is endlessly captivating.
David Bowie remembered by Blackstar musicians Donny McCaslin, Jason Lindner, Tim Lefebvre and Mark Guiliana
“I am so deeply saddened by today’s news. Working with David Bowie
on Blackstar was a life-changing experience for me and a gift beyond
measure David was fully present and engaged in the creative process from
the moment he entered the studio until he left. He was always gracious,
generous, and funny. I will always be inspired by him, am grateful to
have known him, and am holding his family and friends in my heart.” - Donny McCaslin (NEC Jazz faculty)
Very pleased to announce the announce that world-renowned cellist and educator Lluís Claretaret has been appointed to our faculty!
“New England Conservatory has a reputation as one of the world’s leading music schools; to be accepted as a member of this musical community is a dream come true for me,” said Claret. “My colleagues of the cello department are truly great people, performers and educators. It is a huge honor and also a very exciting challenge to join a team with such an awesome teaching capacity. What sets New England Conservatory’s cello department apart from other schools is the deep connection between its faculty teachers. I felt this wonderful feeling when I substituted for Paul Katz two years ago during his sabbatical; I came to understand that all of the cello students were part of the same big family.”
With tourism thriving and a rough history with drugs mostly in its past, each of the four cities I visited in Colombia were unique. I packed for weather ranging from 40—90 degrees as the changes in climate and landscape were as diverse as the Sistema-inspired programs I visited.
My trip started in Medellin, a very large city bustling with traffic, mountainous views, perfect temperatures, and stunning properties. The youth instrumental programs in Medellin are run by an organization called La Red, which serves students in over 30 neighborhoods and schools throughout the city. Funded by the city government, the program serves both affluent and underserved areas—a unique concept in Medellin, where lots of effort has been placed on equalizing the playing field between residents with a varied levels of income. I was introduced to two schools in La Red by two of my former Boston colleagues, Rebecca Levi (Sistema Fellow ’10) and Claudia Garcia. When visiting the programs, we witnessed a less intense, but more creative approach to music making. Each program showcases a different type of ensemble, caters to all ages, and also provides instruction in music literacy. For instance, In Claudia’s nucleo, a theatre teacher taught a class on how to use their body’s to communicate and build trust within an ensemble. When visiting the wind ensemble in another part of the city, the ages of the students ranged from 12—22.
After a quick vacation in the popular city of Cartagena, my next stop was Santa Marta, a warm, tropical, costal city on the Caribbean. Another former Boston colleague, Antonio Berdugo, hosted me as we spent our time hosting seminarios with students in Cajamag, a private organization that uses public funding to serve youth in the area. The music program is only a small branch of the organization, which leads to an insufficient quantity on resources, limiting their ability to grow artistically. This was a huge contrast to Venezuela’s national Sistema, which is able to offer more support and resources to their teachers, helping them improve the musical level of their program. The students in Santa Marta, of course, were fantastic to work with and displayed enthusiasm and hospitality that made rehearsals in the intense heat totally enjoyable.
The final leg of my trip was in Bogota, Colombia’s capital city situated at over 8,000ft, where the temperature stays in the 50’s year around. I had a wonderful time working with the musicians of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of Batuta, the largest music for social change organization in the country. Given their flagship status, my first instinct was to compare their Metropolitan Youth Orchestra with the leading youth orchestras in Venezuela. However, given that the organization has branches in fewer cities, focuses more on fundamental musical training rather than orchestra training, and has been around for only just over 20 years, I realized that the leading “Sistema’s” in both countries are quite distinct. The lack of one governing organization throughout the country made it more difficult to achieve the standardized resources, which has led to so much artistic success in Venezuela. However, the more localized approach to building a Sistema in each city, rather than to form a national system has yielded some flexibility is allowing for each city to have numerous organizations create their own programs and customize their approach to each community.
The difference in infrastructures in Colombia and Venezuela was certainly unexpected at first. While Venezuela has clearly invested much of its resources into developing a national system of youth orchestras that serves as many youth as possible, Colombia had a feel much closer to that of the United States and Europe--separate organizations created localized programs without much outside leadership. The clear commonality between the two South American countries was the children, who were eager, passionate, and relentless in their pursuit of music education, which instilled the joy that will motivate me to plan my next trip to South America soon.
For a video containing photos, rehearsal footage, and student testimonies from my trip to Colombia, please see the video below!
It’s Friday. Bask in it.
For the hump.
“She’s an incredible musician. She’s really accomplished and, let’s not
forget, one of the best vocal teachers. [New England Conservatory] is
churning out some of the great singers. And she’s incredibly sweet. This
is beautiful. “ - Theo Bleckmann on Dominique Eade
A take-over driven in part by recent NEC grad Ilya Portnov!
For our winter morning.