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Abreu Fellows Rebecca Levi and Dan Berkowitz (observing) with seminar facilitator Matti Kovler and student Rachel (at piano) in a session on teaching composition and improvisation to children in Boston in December.

On the Road

to El Sistema, Part II by Kathryn Wyatt, with Rebecca Levi A behind-the-scenes look at a new program to establish American versions of El Sistema, the Venezuelan social-action program with music performance as its centerpiece. How can Venezuela’s El Sistema music-education model be translated into successful programs in the United States? That was the theme of the third and fourth months of the new Abreu Fellows Program, New England Conservatory’s one-year, tuition-free postgraduate certificate program for young musicians interested in becoming ambassadors of El Sistema, the Venezuelan music-education program founded in 1976 by José Antonio Abreu. Participating musicians are housed at New England Conservatory and spend a year studying in Boston and Caracas, followed by a required year advancing or founding an El Sistema program outside Venezuela. In SymphonyOnline in January-February, Kathryn Wyatt reported on her first few months as an Abreu Fellow, describing her own reactions and those of the other Fellows—who have all been reporting on the experience via blogs at the El Sistema USA website—to the intensive course of study and a fall visit to the OrchKids music-education program in Baltimore. Here, Wyatt and Abreu Fellow Rebecca Levi contribute the next installment from the trenches of El Sistema USA, as they observe and work with El Sistema-inspired programs in Boston, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Ottawa, and Panama—and head to Venezuela for two months of training. Wyatt and the other Fellows also speculate on the central concept of the núcleo—its unique combination of structure and creativity— and how to adapt it for different settings and circumstances. —Jennifer Melick



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Symphonyonline may jun 2010