The World Ensemble
Dear Subscriber,
In this year of cataclysmic disruption, we have been inspired to see music for social change programs serve as models of responsiveness, empathy, and ingenuity. By simply listening and adapting to community needs, you created positive change, sometimes more than your own governments. Bravo.
This December World Ensemble highlights the local, human-based approach so many of you took. As is so often the case, language is key. A program in Wales centers Welsh culture and language in their curriculum; the same is true in South Africa, where an organization ensures that Early Childhood Development happens in students’ mother tongues. Read a student’s story of a road trip to Sonora, Mexico alongside Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne, and learn about a lullaby-writing program that traveled from the Bronx, NY to 13 other countries. And our youngest-ever editorialist Axelle Miel shares her story of cultural affirmation in The Philippines. 
We wish you a happy, healthy season, and thank you for inspiring us and those around you. 
Thanks for reading, and stay safe,
The WE Team
Editorial: The Power of Believing in Our Communities

By Amira Axelle Miel, Ambassadors Program Leader; violinist and aspiring teaching artist
I am an uncommon editorialist. A 19-year-old violinist with no professional experience who’s just finished her first semester of college is not your typical guest writer, yet here I am penning the opening piece of this month’s newsletter.

It is a curious predicament, but nothing that I am not already used to. Because of the nature of my musical training, I have become accustomed to occupying spaces in which I never truly felt I belonged.

Road Tripping through Mexico with Linda and the Mockingbirds

By Verenice Velazquez, Program Participant, Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy
“Hey, Verenice! We are taking a bus with Linda to Sonora—we’d like you to join us with your fiddle.” I was in my third year at UC San Diego when Eugene Rodriguez, Founder and Director of Los Cenzontles, called me with an invitation to take a very special trip. Just a few months later, I was on a bus to Sonora, Mexico with Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, several Cenzontles, and many more family and friends, embarking on a musical journey that was filmed to create Linda and the Mockingbirds.

The Morris Isaacson Centre for Music: Grounding the Basics in Students' Cultural Identities

By Chris Bishop, Director of Music, Morris Isaacson Centre for Music, Soweto, South Africa
The Morris Isaacson Centre for Music in Soweto, South Africa provides music education to almost 300 students. Driving human development through music, we hold Early Childhood Development classes at local partner institutions, and also provide a comprehensive on-site program of music tuition through individual lessons, ensembles, music theory classes, and choirs to develop musicianship.

Codi’r To: El Sistema in Wales, and in Welsh

By Carys Bowen, Coordinator, Sistema Cymru
Codi’r To (Welsh for “raising the roof”) is a Welsh-language community project that delivers the world-renowned El Sistema program in areas of multiple deprivation in North Wales. Specifically, we seek to tackle disadvantage and educational underachievement in two communities of multiple deprivation. We hope to provide inspiration and transformation for children, families, schools, and communities, changing lives for the better through music.

Lullaby International

By Tiffany Ortiz, Director, Early Childhood Programs, Carnegie Hall
Through Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project, families work side by side with professional musicians to create and sing personal lullabies for their children. Parents create songs that are uniquely theirs, that reflect who they are as parents and what they hope to communicate or pass on to their children. Families often express the joys, fears, and stresses of parenting, but most of all, they share their hopes, dreams, and love for their children. Each lullaby is a gift, a reflection of parent creativity, love for our youngest ones, and our basic human need for meaningful connection.

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

The Ambassadors’ 2020 Online Musical Pen Pal Project: Part 1

Last month, the 2020 World Ensemble Ambassadors launched their inaugural Online Musical Pen Pal Project, connecting some 25 musicians from five different programs. As of this writing, the pen pals have met twice and communicated with one another on alternate weeks. During larger group sessions, pen pals shared their respective cultures and took part in improvisation activities. Read about the project from Ambassadors Stephen Ongoma (Ghetto Classics) and Hannah Christensen (Sistema Utah).  
Stephen on Week 1 (Introductions): 

After putting our best feet forward as Ambassadors, we managed to organize our first pen pal meeting using the Zoom platform. It brought together participants from Ghetto Classics (Kenya), The Harmony Project (Los Angeles, USA), and NOFA (UK). 

The energy that the pen pals possessed was exemplary. They managed to get to know each other and it was amazing how most of them shared common ideologies. 
Hannah on Week 3 (Culture & Improv Activities): 

It has been extremely fun getting to know other people from around the world and our group activities are so enjoyable! Last week, at our group meeting, we each brought an object that describes our culture. Learning more about their backgrounds helped me get to know the pen pals better. We then watched a video about the El Sistema movement and talked about how our programs are similar or different. Our final activity was an improvisation session, during which we traded off playing little melodies for everyone. It was so exciting to learn about and hear traditional instruments from Uganda. I left happy and excited about our next group meeting, when we will make more music with each other. 
From the Editors: Exciting Changes in the New Year
In the new year, The World Ensemble will move to a rich new website, where it will share a home with The Ensemble, our U.S. and Canada–based newsletter. The new site will house all our past articles, news items, and shared resources, easily searchable and accessible anytime. You’ll still receive our monthly newsletter in your inbox, as well as an improved Resource Basket that will serve both newsletter audiences. But our new-look homepage will better enable you to search topics that interest you, connecting you with the global field whenever you want. Stay tuned for more details. We can’t wait to see you in 2021!
The Ensemble
Tricia Tunstall

Patrick Scafidi

Camille Delaney-McNeil

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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