Venezuela to expand famed El Sistema music program

Founder of Venezuela’s world famous El Sistema music program, Jose Abreu, met with President Nicolas Maduro on May 22 to discuss expanding the program. They agreed on a project called Musical Program Simon Bolivar, which aims to have 1 million Venezuelan youths and children playing musical instruments.

Abreu thanked the government for its support for the project. He founded the Simon Bolivar Symphonic Orchestra in 1975, as well as the youth orchestra and the state foundation for orchestras, which together make up El Sistema. The music program director is also a doctor of economics, composer, musician, activist, teacher, and conductor.

El Sistema aims to use music as a method of social and intellectual development, and focuses particularly on children from poor neighbourhoods, with the aim of also preventing crime. It has special programs for children with disabilities, and has a White Hands Choir for deaf children.

The El Sistema model has been adopted around Latin America and Europe. It is funded by the Venezuelan government, and involves around 350,000 children and youths.

The new project entails providing children and orchestras with musical instruments, fitting out abandoned or unused spaces for teaching music and creating new regional headquarters for El Sistema.

Communications minister Ernesto Villegas said the government would lend its “full moral and economic support” to the project. It forms part of the government’s project, the Movement for Peace and Life, which aims to combat high crime and violence levels.

“With this project, we’re going to put the National System of Orchestras and Youth Choirs of Venezuela at the forefront,” Abreu said. “It will begin straight away, in stages, with the support of the government.”

He added that Venezuela’s well known conductor Gustavo Dudamel would be “fully involved in the super massive project”.

[Reprinted from Venezuela Analysis.]