The World Ensemble
Dear Subscriber,

This September World Ensemble explores the different contexts in which we create meaningful systemic change. A jazz musician in South Africa uses art as a gateway to opportunity; a Global Leaders Cohort member uses both Swedish and American cultural norms to inform her teaching artistry; a community of artists in Pittsburgh “make the invisible visible.” 
You'll also hear from two longtime friends who have joined the Ensemble team: Rodrigo Guerrero brings us an important story from the Venezuelan Sistema diaspora, and Axelle Miel describes the multiple programs blooming in her area of the Philippines. 
We're excited to welcome Axelle as Program Director of the Ambassadors Exchange, where she's led the cohort in curating a special gift to us: a "Quarantunes Playlist!" Have a listen to the songs that are helping young artists around the world through this difficult time.

And as always, send us story ideas, program experiments, anything that might be generous to your colleagues around the world. 

Thanks for reading, 
The WE Team

Editorial: Virtual Music-Making as a Tool for Diplomacy

By Chiaki Nishikawa, Program Coordinator, Teach To Learn
As the world went into lockdown this year, most educational institutions throughout the world adapted to a new virtual learning environment. Musical classes and performances were no exception. But music is fundamentally a field that relies on subtle human interactions, bringing people physically together. The abrupt change has meant unfamiliar territory for many.

The Rainbow Academy: Warriors of the Rainbow Nation, South Africa

By Denay Willie, jazz musician; Cofounder and Director, The Rainbow Academy
The year 2010 was very significant in South Africa. During that 16th year of our country’s free and democratic reign, we hosted the first-ever World Cup Soccer Tournament on the African continent. It was perhaps our most prominent spotlight on the world stage since 1994, when South Africans rebelled against the brutal and systematic rule of legalized segregation and white supremacy called “Apartheid.” The 2010 World Cup felt like something of an announcement—a renewed celebration of our many cultures, communities, and opportunities. Amidst that backdrop of hope and justice, The Rainbow Academy was born in Cape Town.

From Lapu-Lapu to Toledo: The Influence of El Sistema in Cebu, Philippines

By Axelle Miel, Ambassadors Program Leader; violinist and aspiring teaching artist
Most of The World Ensemble reporting for the Philippines thus far has been about the Sistema-based program Ang Misyon in Manila, the Philippine capital. Unbeknownst to many—including myself, I must confess—there are many other robust Sistema-based programs all over the country that are equally worthy of feature but have not yet been given due visibility. In this article, I feature five such programs in Cebu, the place I call home. It is my hope that my writing this will pave the way for more equitable coverage.

Dispatch from the Venezuelan Diaspora

By Rodrigo Guerrero, Assistant Director of Creative Youth Development, New England Conservatory
EDITORS’ NOTE: Rodrigo Guerrero was a longtime key figure in El Sistema Venezuela, a leader in the areas of Institutional Development and International Relations and an essential aide and translator for Maestro Abreu. The political and economic turmoil in Venezuela has made it necessary for him, as for so many others, to leave his homeland; he has relocated with his family to Boston, where he is now working as Assistant Director of Creative Youth Development at the New England Conservatory. We asked Rodrigo to reflect upon some aspect of the extraordinary Venezuelan musical diaspora. Here is his response.
I first met Anthony Pérez more than a decade ago in Venezuela; he was a promising trumpet player from the Andean state of Táchira. We worked together on several occasions, as his energetic performance and manner made him a fantastic interview subject regarding the work of our orchestras and chamber ensembles. His story—a young boy in the town of Rubio rising to be one of the main brass players in the Simón Bolívar Orchestra—made for terrific press. You can see him playing alongside his peers, his hair slicked back, in YouTube clips of the legendary 2007 BBC Proms performance, led by Gustavo Dudamel, that introduced the orchestra to the world.

Teaching Artistry as a Balance for Cultural Education Mentalities

While living in Sweden over the past year, I observed that the education system excels at nurturing student autonomy. Sweden is a small country with only a handful of classical percussionists (or any instrument) at each university. Many professors teach part-time and are seldom on campus, particularly at my host institution, Örebro University. In response, students often initiate repertoire selections, schedule ensemble rehearsals, and coach themselves. Without the constant direction of teachers, they must formulate musical interpretations and direct personal growth. 

My colleagues informed me that this dynamic is especially present at Örebro University. University music programs in larger cities, such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö Academies of Music, may cultivate a different culture. Nonetheless, observations and conversations lead me to believe that autonomy is a major force throughout the Swedish education system, beginning with the strong emphasis on children’s rights in primary school.   

The EmcArts Project Develops a New Model of Social Change through Teaching Artistry

By Richard Evans, President Emeritus, EmcArts, and Liz Dreyer, Lead Facilitator, EmcArts
Social systems are invariably complex and do not yield to lasting change through traditional advocacy or planning efforts. Why is this? In part, because humans are at once inter-dependent, passionate, assertive, and territorial. These qualities drive social systems away from being ordered and predictable in their behaviors. Most of the time, they become complex and adaptive—which means there is room for creative efforts and for irrational imagination to contribute to the emergence of positive change.

The Ambassadors' Exchange
The WE Ambassadors are a group of El Sistema student musicians who serve as representatives of their programs around the world.

Quarantunes Playlist from The Ambassadors

By Axelle Miel, Ambassadors Program Leader, Philippines
Though we enjoy getting to report about each of our programs on The World Ensemble, we Ambassadors have agreed that this routine has gotten quite monotonous. Two weeks ago, we met over Zoom for the first time to discuss what we could do a group for this month’s issue. The resulta collaborative playlist of songs that had gotten us through the brunt of COVID-19. We share these “Quarantunes” with you so that you may hear the melodies that meant the most to us these past few months. Keep an eye out for our future projects!

You can listen and follow the playlist on Spotify here.

Ghetto Classics Update

By Stephen Ongoma, Kenya
It has been such a hard time for the art industry to be running its usual activities all over the world since the coronavirus outbreak.

Ghetto Classics has not been left behind in adapting to these uncertain times. The program reopened its doors in late August for the young musicians to explore different ways of making music with strict new health measures. We are optimistic that better times are coming and cannot wait to come together to play our instruments!
Bugandan Traditions – Amagunjju

By Mary Nakacwa, Uganda
Once upon a time, a king of Buganda died. When his heir was born, the baby’s uncle Gunjju created a dance to keep the young monarch constantly happy, as a crying king is said to bring bad luck. Today, the dance, now called the amagunjju, is performed on various occasions such as weddings, birthday parties, introduction ceremonies, and many others.

Here is a clip of students from the Architects of Music program rehearsing the amagunjju accompanied by mujaguzo drums, in preparation for their performance before the king of Buganda, which was unfortunately canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collective Conservatory and The Harmony Project

By Pedro Ramos, USA
This year, despite the ongoing pandemic, students at the Harmony Project exercised their creativity while participating with the Collective Conservatory, an organization that offers immersive and meaningful musical-making experiences for communities to improve youth-development, restorative practices, and wellness.

Brazil to the Silk Road, Handmade Drums to Pro Tools: How two youth music organizations in the UK are maintaining engagement and exploring new territory

By Matthew Jones, England
With the continuation of lockdown halting all live music activity, orchestras and ensembles are becoming more and more accustomed to this new ‘Zoom’ reality. In this article, I mention two recent online musical events I’ve been involved with, specifically the National Orchestra For All’s (NOFA) Online Summer Course and Jubacana’s Summer School. I also contribute my own observations about each occasion given that both events were the first of their kind for the respective organizations.

The Ensemble
Tricia Tunstall

Patrick Scafidi

Dr. Ryan Welsh

Tricia Tunstall
Eric Booth
Dr. Chrissie D’Alexander
Elsje Kibler-Vermaas
Jacquie McNulty
Rey Ramirez
Monique Van Willingh

Caroline Campos
Zoe Kumagai
Gabrielle Molina
Thank you for reading! 

Be on the lookout for additional resources and news later this month.

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