El Sistema Diary: Nucleo Montalban (Day 1)

Today at Montalban, one of El Sistema's flagship nucleos, a 10 year-old musician told me, "el Maestro, wants us to learn and play la cuarta by the end of the month." Puzzled with curiosity, I asked, which fourth? "Tchaikovsky's fourth," he said. Last week, Maestro Abreu invited the Montalban children's orchestra to perform for the members of the LA Philharmonic during their recent trip to Caracas. They joined a 305-piece orchestra in playing  the symphony's last movement, by heart. And now, they have an enormous task ahead of them, a complete symphony, one of the most challenging pieces in the orchestral repertoire.

Today, my colleague David and I had the opportunity to work through the first movement with the young musicians. A working rehearsal, their playing wasn't note perfect, but yet profoundly compelling. We heard music-making that was full of creativity and charisma.  As I stood before them, it was as if the young musician's were telling me their own life stories, their aspirations, and their dreams--through their art.

There are no limits to the extent of possibility in El Sistema. The young musicians at Montalban know this. As you walk through the corridors of the building, (an austere yet  welcoming space) posted on walls,  one can observe a multitude of press clippings and concert photographs. A reminder of what has been accomplished thus far and where the group might be headed.  "Children's Orchestra Travels to Europe, ""Young Musicians Captivate Simon Rattle," "The Children's Orchestra: Role Models for the Future."

Throughout our day, we saw among all age groups, a level of artistic commitment and work ethic that would parallel the kind of engagement stemming from our own country's conservatories. In Montalban, there is a healthy seriousness about the work at hand, a desire to achieve excellence among all levels of musical abilities, and above all, an extraordinary feeling of joy and devotion for music and for the community that helps create it.

El Sistema has a strong culture of visiting artists. And today we experienced a beatiful exchange. We saw nucleo teachers encouraging their students to take advantage of our presence on site. Some of us worked with youth orchestras, others with choirs, and early childhood education. In a flexible ecosystem of teaching and learning, we shared our best with each other. And we recognized one another as family.

1 comment

  • Herlinda Elisea
    Herlinda Elisea
    Felicitaciones por tan magnífica labor ;)

    Felicitaciones por tan magnífica labor wink

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