In the beginning…Tocar y Luchar.



Tocar y Luchar, as first seen on a national publication (1976).

It begins with a mission.


Maestro Abreu began El Sistema with a simple yet powerful mission. One that was full of symbolism as it embodied the social sentiment of the times, a desire to aspire to better things, and the opening of new ways of thinking about the arts, its purpose in society, and young people’s role as guarantors of that process. Since 1976, Tocar y Luchar (to play and to fight) has been the great calling of El Sistema.
 
In a social and artistic context, this translates more like, To Play and to Strive. And this is a beautiful idea for a collective mission. A higher purpose of inquiry, of artistic discovery; and social participation; is what binds the work or rather their network (of more than 280 interdependent programs) together. Any successful organization, whether artistic, civic, or governmental begins with a clear mission. Because clarity defines purpose and all of the work moving forward.

The following notes from El Nacional, are a testament to El Sistema's beginnings. As the headlines implie, it is clear that Sistema in Venezuela began with a strong artistic imperative. Conceived as a national entity (a youth orchestra), with no funding, yet a desire to produce products of excellence (as evidenced by the engagement of some of the great conductors of the time). Even from the very beginning, young players were put to the test, by participating in a world festival of youth orchestras and working intensively with Carlos Chavez, the celebrated Mexican composer and educator. 

Part of El Sistema's growth and capacity is driven by drafting and realizing extraordinary musical goals. For example, a Mahler cycle, from memory. This--the kind of work that defies expectations--is the conduit for achieving the social goals that Maestro Abreu often describes: the experience of agreement, the affluence of spirit. Indeed, the process of a continual strive has been ever-present in the work of El Sistema. And it will continue to guide their efforts for social transformation in and through communities, into the future.


Headlines from El Nacional, the Venezuela Daily.
February 2, 1976 (Translated from the original Spanish).

A great calling for a great orchestra.
Tocar y Luchar

The National Youth Symphony Orchestra “Juan Jose Landeta” has 150 members. At the end of the year there will be 300.
 
For them, in spite of their success and hard work, their country has not yet provided them any funding.

They are young and live as such: they wear blue jeans, sport wavy hair, and they like Rock. But above all, they have one love: music.

This year two great conductors will come to teach and work with them: Eduardo Mata and Peter Maag.

An upcoming and enormous challenge: the World Festival of Youth Orchestras in Britain.

Maestro Carlos Chavez dedicates with utmost care and dedication, long days of arduous work to polish them technically.

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