It was a great pleasure to attend the graduation of the fifth and final class of Sistema Fellows—Jose Antonio Abreu’s TED Prize wish to change the world. It was a wonderful time of celebration and connection. I was very happy to visit at the New England Conservatory and see many past and present fellow Fellows who gathered to share and reflect upon our work thus far. I am grateful for the Conservatory’s dedication and investment in the work that we hold dear. The impact that the Fellowship has made upon the field is already vast and far-reaching. “50 gifted young musicians passionate about their art and social justice” have inspired countless of other leaders and cultural institutions across the US and around the world to re-imagine music as vehicle for enacting social action and building hope in society. The Sistema Fellows’ work is helping make music a priority not just in the education realm but also in the social policy sphere by advancing the message that the exercise of music can impact a social transformation, promote integration, and provide a higher quality of life. It has been a tremendous honor to advance and be a part of Maestro Abreu’s vision. I am excited about seeing El Sistema grow and nurturing its development.
As part of the celebration TED.com wrote:
“The Sistema Fellows Program, housed at the NEC, was indeed about more than musicianship. The intensive curriculum focused on leadership and community development, and included a month‐long residency in Venezuela. During this residency, the Fellows saw El Sistema in action and got to know Abreu. For him, an orchestra brings people together, and the US-based Sistema Fellows are ambassadors for his big-picture thinking. They 50 of them landed in the program because of their passion for playing music, teaching music and using music to foster understanding between people of diverse backgrounds.”
The Chair of the Sistema Fellows committee and dear friend Suki de Bragança pointed out in her remarks:
“More than ever I am convinced that each Class of ten was appointed by the Muses to experience growth and discovery together, in short, was compelled to meet at the crossroads of Boston. I applaud our fearless leader Tony Woodcock for pledging to commit the resources to this Program that fosters in this country and beyond the now legendary movement for social change, El Sistema. My fellow Committee members and I believe that you are entrusted with a precious resource that in five years has already benefitted the communities in which you serve, making an impact on countless children’s lives, neighborhoods, and assisting in the rapid fire growth and high quality of nascent nucleos both in the United States and with our neighbors abroad. Following the model of El Sistema that insists on excellence in music and is based on absolute trust in teachers, peer teaching, and barring exclusion from the right to make music, you too will take these values and as the core group of fifty, transfer this precious legacy on to those who have not been privileged to train directly with NEC.”
Photo Credits: E. Huang, R. Roberts, Hernandez-Estrada.