Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Los Angeles, Venezuela, Mahler, and More

It's been a long time since I've written on this blog, mainly because I started a new blog that focuses on funding opportunities for El Sistema inspired programs, but also because, well, there's been so much going on in the Fellows program and I've been doing more experiencing and less processing/sharing. But as the Fellows approach the departure date for Venezuela, I'll begin to update this blog with a little retrospective of the Fellowship from the last few months.

Before I post those blogs, I'm excited to share some videos that my stepfather, Jack Cousin, sent me from his trip with the LA Philharmonic on their first tour to Caracas. (Jack is a bass player with the LA Philharmonic since 1974). From how Jack tells it, the trip for the musicians in the LA Phil was a moving experience. They saw music education like they'd never seen it before: thousands of children playing at the highest levels, with the most unbridled passion imaginable. The orchestra received (unsurprisingly) near-mania enthusiasm at their concerts, and if you happened to go to the live simulcast of Mahler's 8th Symphony last Saturday (with 1400 people on the stage), you'll know what I mean.

The trip was covered in newspapers such as the LA Times (on going to Caracas, on the youngest children of El Sistema, on the LA Phil musicians learning about El Sistema), and the New York Times (on the Mahler cycle), and I'd particularly recommend checking out the blog about the surprise that El Sistema had for the LA Phil.

The Fellows are traveling to Caracas next Tuesday (my first time back in 5 years!), on the heels of the monumental trip of the LA Philharmonic. While we'll be sure to have our own unique experiences (quite different with a group of ten people than with an entire orchestra), I hope these videos will be an inspiring peek into the world's greatest music program for kids. Thanks, Jack!

(These videos show a three different youth orchestras from El Sistema. The young musicians in these orchestras have been playing together since they were children.)