Over five academic years, between 2009 and 2014, New England Conservatory has fulfilled a wish first announced by Dr. José Antonio Abreu when he received the TED Prize in February 2009: to train 50 education leaders as Sistema Fellows who will realize the principles of Venezuela's El Sistema program of musical education for young people. On this page you see the program description that greeted the Class of 2014 Sistema Fellows.
2013-2014 Sistema Fellows Program at NEC
The Sistema Fellows Program is a professional training program designed for ten postgraduate musicians and music educators who are passionate about creating careers for themselves that connect music, youth, and social change. Past participants in the Program have gone on to guide the development of numerous El Sistema–inspired programs across the United States and beyond.
Founded in 1975, El Sistema is Venezuela's celebrated free youth orchestra and social action program that provides potentially life-changing experiences for several hundred thousand children annually in rural and urban communities across the country. El Sistema has also produced internationally successful musicians such as Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. The success of El Sistema has generated excitement throughout the world, and many programs inspired by El Sistema have begun to emerge around the globe, including more than fifty in the U.S.
Between September and May, the Sistema Fellows engage in an intensive curriculum that includes leadership, communication, non-profit strategy, funding, operations, evaluation and assessment, and educational philosophy and policy. The learning is a combination of classroom seminars and experiential work in the field. In the fall semester, Fellows spend four weeks in residence at El Sistema-inspired programs of their choosing across the U.S. There is also a month-long residency in Venezuela in the spring semester. To put their learning into practice, Fellows are required to spend the subsequent year serving the emerging field of El Sistema-inspired initiatives.
Based at New England Conservatory, the Sistema Fellows Program is tuition-free and includes a monthly stipend for living expenses. The program is limited to 10 participants each year. To learn more about the Program through the voices of the Fellows themselves, visit the Program’s blog.