El Sistema Diary: The Spirit of Music

Santa Rosa, a picturesque colonial town, just outside of Barquisimeto, is the home to La Divina Pastora, Venezuela‘s most revered Saint Patroness. Just over two years ago, a nucleo was started there, at the heart of community. Literally, classes take place outside, around the main square, in homes, at the jefatura (mayor‘s office), parochial classrooms--all within a close perimeter. Music is heard in and around every corner. José Luis Giménez, the nucleo’s decisive founder says, “wherever there is a shade, there is music.”

They are slowly building their nucleo. There are five hundred students enrolled: two orchestras playing arrangements of Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony, choirs, and a recently formed cello ensemble. “We are imploring to the Virgin that we may have an adequate space for teaching.“ “I know it will come,“ says Giménez.

Plans to build an official rehearsal space are underway. Carmen, a parent, is an architect and has donated her services to render a model and blueprint. It will be a modest space that will overlook the Turbia Valley and the verdant hills around Barquisimeto--music amid a pastoral setting.

Things start slowly, they take time.

The students also want to make a case for themselves. They are working towards producing a concert at La Sede, home of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. They want to be heard. Their energy is contagious, their sound enormous. Music matters to them. They aspire to reach new realms of achievement, every single day. The orchestra is a serious commitment for both the students and their families.

To see the beginnings of a process where an entire town is being transformed by and through music is indeed, very special. Here, El Sistema is framing the arts as a conduit for social development of the highest order. Their orchestra is an asset, a tool for building social capital; elevating their quality of life through a constant exposure to beauty.

The main square, a hub for music, has also become a place of peace, guided by the gracious spirit of La Divina Pastora, who watches over the orchestra and those who take part in it. 

Wherever there is music, there is also hope.









1 comment

  • JRose

    JRose

    Beautiful writing, pictures, and spirit! I am in awe of it all! Soon to be a 2012-13 Abreu Fellow, I have so much to look forward to. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Beautiful writing, pictures, and spirit! I am in awe of it all! Soon to be a 2012-13 Abreu Fellow, I have so much to look forward to. Thank you so much for sharing.

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