"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Simon Bolivar, El Sistema, Sistema Scotland and the London 2012 Festival.

Tonight the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra kicks off the London 2012 Festival in the shadow of Stirling Castle, joined by local children from Sistema Scotland. By way of introduction and background to this music phenomenon, read on...

Art and the young I am told that Venezuela is a stunning country, with its Andean peaks, its Caribbean coastline, its tranquil offshore islands, its wetlands teeming with life, the steamy Amazon and its rolling savanna towered over by the flat-topped mountains called tepuis. But perhaps it has more than its fair share of unemployment, slums, poverty and a youth in need of a focus away from the temptations of crime and drugs. Venezuelan Jose Antonia Abreo is a trained economist. He is also a talented pianist and a visionary activist. In 1975 he founded an educational system for the youth of Venezuela based on the teaching of music as a basis for intellectual growth. This innovative idea was to use music as the focus of education, provide children with free musical instruments and teach them to play in an orchestra. Abreo saw this as a way to give children of all ages a meaningful purpose and self esteem, a means for social and intellectual improvement that would rescue them from the harmful alternatives around them in their otherwise deprived lives. His organization is now known as El Sistema. The vision and energy of this one man has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of deprived children. The flagship orchestra of El Sistema, the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, has played in Carnegie Hall, at the London Proms and elsewhere, always to widespread acclaim. The idea has been so successful that it is finding outlets across the world, for example in other Latin American countries, in Spain and across the United States. The concept is also being developed in England and in Stirling, Scotland, where youth disaffection is seen to be a real problem. In his acceptance speech for the B'nai B'rith Human Rights Award in 2008, Abreu succinctly summarized the goal of El Sistema and of his life's work by saying; ‘In the struggle for Human Rights, let us vigorously incorporate children’s sublime right to music, in whose bosom shines Beingness in its splendor and its ineffable mystery. Let us reveal to our children the beauty of music and music shall reveal to our children the beauty of life.’ It seems so obvious to remind ourselves yet again that our children and our youth are our future. How many of us outside the realms of school and family, however, spend any time by example or action to encourage their positive and wholesome development through the medium of music?

Excerpt from Healing This Wounded Earth © Eleanor Stoneham 2011

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