Children’s Orchestra & Performing Arts Project @ North Palm Beach Elementary recently had twenty-eight orchestra students that blazed a trail to Durham to participate in an annual ‘Seminario’ or music seminar, playing with over 150 other musician-students. Kidznotes hosted this year’s East Coast Seminario, a 2-day gathering of all the El Sistema-inspired programs on the East Coast. Students from Florida to Connecticut arrived in Durham on May 2, 2014 to rehearse for a performance on Saturday, May 3 at the Holton Career and Resource Center for a special concert which was free to the public.
The idea of bringing El Sistema to North Carolina was born in the minds of three women, at nearly the same time. Lucia Powe, Kidznotes co-founder and North Carolina philanthropist was inspired by a 2008 “60 Minutes” special on the phenomenon of El Sistema in Venezuela, and its early adaptation in the United States. Lucia quickly told friend and child advocate Kathie Morrison about the special, and discovered in her a love of Latin America and children.
El Sistema participants from seven different programs around the southeast gathered to work in ensemble groups and play in the massive orchestral event. Culminating in a performance conducted by Scott Laird – Instructor of Music at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, students performed Devorak’s New World Symphony.
The twenty-eight young musicians in grades 2 – 8 from North Palm Beach Elementary dazzled the audience with technique and style. Fifth grade student Janae Cameron said, “It was a dynamic experience…I improved my level of playing by working with older student musicians during the seminar. It was very exciting!” In addition to the concert, COPA students visited the campus of Duke University, seeing the landmarks, meeting students, and dreaming about their futures.
The COPA Symphony orchestra program has grown from 60 students in 2010 to over 250 this year. Moving into a brand new facility in the fall, the program will expand to more than 350 student-musicians, studying and playing beautiful music.
(See list below for more information regarding the instrumental music programs of El Sistema)
REF: SDPBC (Press Release) Public Affairs Office, May 2014
El Sistema is a publicly financed voluntary sector music education program in Venezuela, founded in 1975 by economist and musician José Antonio Abreu under the name of Social Action for Music. For many years its official name was Fundación del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela, (FESNOJIV), which is sometimes translated into English as "National Network of Youth and Children's Orchestras of Venezuela".
It has recently changed to Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar (FMSB) but it is still widely known by the FESNOJIV acronym.
El Sistema is a state foundation which watches over Venezuela's 125 youth orchestras and the instrumental training programmes which make them possible. The organization has 31 symphony orchestras, and between 310,000 to 370,000 children attend its music schools around the country. 70 to 90 percent of the students come from poor socio-economic backgrounds
The COPA Project Nucleo
The Children’s Orchestra & Performing Arts Project @ North Palm Beach Elementary began with an idea to bring instrumental music to students in Northern Palm Beach County. Scheduled within the regular school day, this program expanded daily schedules and adapted facilities to provide space and time for the music program that would launch with more than 60 participants. In the fall of 2010 a grant from the Mary and Robert Pew Public Education Fund supplied the needed $20,000 seed funds for instruments, music books and stands to get the program started. Teacher salaries came through regular PBCSD budget funds and Title I funding. Teaching artists for strings and band were hired to team with the instrumentalist music teacher already in place. The outstanding quality of the teaching artists selected added a solid musical base to the work ahead.
The National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs (NAESIP)
The National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs (NAESIP) provides advocacy and support for people and organizations inspired by Venezuela’s monumental music education program. Its diverse membership of more than 40 organizations across the United States represents programs that serve some of the most vulnerable communities and children throughout the country. The only national organization dedicated solely to growth of El Sistema inspired programs, NAESIP seeks to provide connections to knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement for program directors, teaching artists, and volunteers. Founded in 2013, NAESIP will grow to provide comprehensive information on the El Sistema philosophy and methodology, and host a variety of resources that will aid those building, expanding and supporting El Sistema programs in the US and beyond.