|Venezuelan cellist Aristides Rivas (left) helps a Korean child hone his craft during rehearsal in an El Sistemainspired|
intensive 10-day music camp at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul on Friday. (Venezuela Embassy)
The Venezuelan Embassy showcased the South American country’s signature music education program, El Sistema, in a 10-day music camp for children and young adults that culminated with a performance at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday.
Some 100 kids took part in the El Sistema-inspired music camp. They practiced all day for nearly two weeks, meeting daily in a rehearsal studio at the Sejong Center. All the hard work culminated with the performance as the “Sejong Dream Tree Harmony Orchestra.”
The Korean El Sistema orchestra performed pieces by Dvorak and Brahms, as well as traditional Korean and Venezuelan numbers for an enthusiastic audience of eager parents, members of the foreign diplomatic community here and music lovers of all stripes.
“El Sistema was born in Venezuela 38 years ago, and since then it has grown, increasing the ways it has transformed people’s lives. In fact, the teachers here are products of El Sistema” said Luz Maria Escarra Gil, First Secretary of Venezuela.
El Sistema was founded in 1975 by economist and musician Jose Antonio Abreu. Nowadays, program watches over Venezuela’s 125 youth orchestras and the music training programs. The more than 400,000 children and young adults who participate in the program practice before and after school for 30 hours a week, according to the Venezuelan Embassy.
Venezuela’s most famous “alumni” of El Sistema include acclaimed musician Edicson Ruiz, the wildly popular Los Angeles Philharmonic musical director Gustavo Dudamel and the world-renowned Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra.
Six volunteer music teachers from Latin American nations Venezuela, Mexico and Uruguay, and conductor Mark Churchill from the United States, came to Seoul to lead a group of budding musicians out of a palpable love for music and music education, but also out of a belief in El Sistema.
“What is exciting is not whether they play well but, by playing, they get to experience expressing themselves through music, which is a transformative experience and builds confidence and their intellectual development is extended,” said Mark Churchill.
Two teachers from Venezuela are former El Sistema students themselves and expressed enthusiasm for the program and their Korean students.
Venezuelan music teacher Nicolas Real, 44, started playing music at the age of 9 by virtue of an El Sistema music program.
“I consider myself in a way a musical ambassador of my country,” he said.
By Philip Iglauer (firstname.lastname@example.org)