Professional orchestras embrace El Sistema

Posted on: August 2, 2013

In the August issue of The Ensemble, a newsletter for the U.S. and Canadian El Sistema movement, Jessica Balboni, director of learning programs at the League of American Orchestras, writes about professional orchestras that have undertaken El Sistema-inspired programs: “For a symphony orchestra, launching and supporting an El Sistema-inspired initiative can be both challenging and rewarding. An informal survey of North American orchestras with El Sistema-inspired initiatives reveals that orchestras may need to develop and flex an entirely new set of muscles, ones that are far more education- and community-focused than concert-centered.… At all of these orchestras, there is ample evidence that their ES-i programs are building meaningful connections with diverse students and their families as well as with other institutions in their communities. There is a strong and growing sense of ‘ownership’ of the symphony on the part of populations that were previously underserved. In Baltimore, students like to say, ‘I’m in the BSO.’ In Allentown, some families are choosing to stay in their neighborhood so that their kids can continue with the program.” (For more on El Sistema-inspired programs run by orchestras, see the Summer issue of Symphony.

Posted August 2, 2013