El Sistema Youth Orchestra: transforms economically challenged youth

This post is based on the article, “El Sistema settles in, surprisingly, down east,” by William Littler, music critic for The Toronto Star (March 23, 2012).  Littler recounts the amazing transformation of troubled Canadian children and youth through the El Sistema orchestra program, that began in Venezuela.

In Moncton, New Brunswick, the El Sistema centre provides an opportunity for economically challenged youth to “discover the human benefits of self-control and cooperation.”

The fantastic Venezuelan conductor Antonio Delgados, who himself was a product of El Sistema, settled in New Brunswick in 2010 to direct the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra and its Sistema project.  Delgados impresses his audience and students alike with positive energy and his caring and patient nature.  The free orchestra-based musical education system was founded in 1975 by the musician-economist Jose Antonio Abreu in the slums of Caracas, Venezuela.  El Sistema has captivated the attention of some of the world’s foremost musicians. Sir Simon Rattle, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, says of El Sistema, “if anyone asked me where there is something really important going on for the future of classical music, I would simply have to say -in Venezuela.”

Toronto now has its first El Sistema centre in Parkdale.  And the Moncton and Saint John centres in New Brunswick are projects of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra.

The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra was honoured to perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2003.  And in 2011 they came first in the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Competition and played in the prestigious Musikverein Concert Hall in Vienna, Austria.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvY4VgCfdEk  NBYO Vienna performance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBKwTdAx- eU&feature=BFp&list=FLliPUHNkJPt_x5-ho40jbUA  Sistema NB rehearsal

http://www.nbyo-ojnb.ca/about/previous-tours NBYO website

http://www.toronto.com/article/719109  William Littler’s Toronto Star article

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Lang Lang -what I admire

I recently read the pianist Lang Lang’s autobiography Journey of a Thousand Miles: My Story, c. 2008 Spiegel & Grau.

I have heard some of Lang Lang’s recordings on CD, and watched him on YouTube,  and one day hope to hear him live.  He is a phenomenal performer, with so much passion for playing the piano.

I admire Lang Lang’s drive to succeed, despite growing up in Shenyang (an industrial city in northern China), with limited access to the great piano teachers of his country. His father sacrificed his career (he quit his job as a police officer) to be Lang Lang’s chaperone when he and Lang Lang moved to Beijing to study at the Conservatory.

To make a long story short, Lang Lang competed in many international competitions, and after winning was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, United States. He is now an international sensation, playing to sold out audiences around the world with world famous orchestras.

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