Youth Orchestra in Venezuela, July, 2007
Five years ago, I was visiting nucleos in Venezuela with members of the Berlin Philharmonic and the whole time, we discussed how on earth such a program could be adapted to other places in the world. It was tremendous to see so many children engaged in music at such an extraordinarily high level, and to know that for many of these kids, music was the only path through which they could realize their potential in life as human beings and citizens. Ever since then, I've become a strong advocate for bringing qualities of El Sistema to programs in the US and abroad. So it came as a happy surprise and deep confirmation in the power of this program when the Longy School of Music announced to all of us that they are merging with the Bard Conservatory of Music and partnering with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to offer a Masters of Teaching in Music degree, in order to help support the movement by training qualified teachers.
WOW. This means that major institutions around the US are working together in support of music for social change programs. In the five years since I was in Caracas hearing 10 year olds play Mahler like pros, major change has happened in the States to institutionally support El Sistema as a theory of change for young people.
For more information on the merge and this new degree, check out the Los Angeles Times' and the New York Times' articles.