“El Sistema” – actually the “Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar” – is a publicly financed voluntary sector music education program in Venezuela, founded in 1975 by economist and musician José Antonio Abreu.
370,000 children mostly with poor socio-economic backgrounds are attending the foundation’s music schools – playing in about 500 orchestras – with the Simón Bolívat Symphony Orchestra on world-class level. Abreu’s goal is to reach half a million children by 2015.
The program is strongly supported by president Hugo Chávez particularly because of his close ties to the impoverished millions of slum-dwellers. “El Sistema’s mission runs parallel to Mr. Chávez’s program to provide subsidies and services to the poor.” And this gave reason to a lot of criticism.
Abreu explains the philosophy and the meaning of the program in one sentence:
“An orchestra is the only community that comes together with the fundamental objective of agreeing within itself, therefore the person who undertakes orchestral practice begins to live with the experience of agreement.”
To understand what happens to children through their musical education, please watch the videos in the right sidebar.
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