The World Ensemble
Dear Subscriber,

As a worldwide community, we are connected as never before—united not only by our mission of music for social change but also our common grief about the pandemic, our shared revulsion at systemic racism, and our joint belief in the urgency of social protest to bring about institutional change.

The articles in this issue reflect these unifying commitments. You'll hear from a Brazilian program that leads with psycho-social services in the face of COVID disruptions; from a North American funder that prioritizes support for robust responses to the pandemic; from a European program that turned to its founding questions for guidance in tumultuous times. You will read about the power of musical sound to create trust among young singers in Vienna and to make daily life endurable in Kins hasa. And  from India comes a perspective about commingling musical traditions across cultures.

We hope you'll find sustenance and even inspiration here. As always, send us story ideas, program experiments, anything that might be generous to your colleagues around the world . We want and need to hear from you.

Be well, stay strong, take heart,

The WE team

Sangeet4All: Celebrating Multiple
Musical Cultures

By Saskia Rao-de Haas, creator of the Indian cello; Founder of Sangeet4All , India's music curriculum for young learners
Sangeet4All is a music education program that connects children in India with Indian classical and folk music in a fun and meaningful way. I started the program with my husband, Shubhendra Rao, in 2014; our first students were 15 girls in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Delhi. The Sangeet4All program now runs in 18 schools in the regions of NCR, Gujarat, and Punjab.

Positive Fatalism and Social Music Projects in Kinshasa, DR Congo

By Lukas Pairon, F ounder of Music Fund; Founder/Director of SIMM: Social Impac t of Making Music
In Kinshasa, the majority of the population, which is close to 10 million, subsists on less than 2 USD a day—and this is in a place where life, at best, is expensive. Many people live in excruciating poverty. They exist in survival mode. Disease, hunger, and death are omnipresent. There is little prospect of improvement; on the contrary, the standard of living appears to be worsening for millions of people in Kinshasa. On top of the struggle to survive, they must also reckon with politicians, police, and soldiers, who may harass or rob them, or worse.

I have often thought that the people of Kinshasa must be absolutely desperate. To a middle-class European, their situation appears dire. How on earth can people begin to live meaningful lives there?

Editorial: Strengthening Our Shared Humanity through Music

By Gerald Wirth, Cofounder and Artistic Director, Superar ; President and Artistic Director, Vienna Boys Choir
This school year, and this concert season, are ending in strange circumstances for all of us around the world. For me, this momentous—and for so many, catastrophic—“pause” is, in part, a time to reflect on the value and nature of the work I do.

Prioritizing Families in NEOJIBA's
Virtual Programming

By Olgair Marques, Coordinator of the Social Development Sector of NEOJIBA
NEOJIBA is a public El Sistema-inspired program in Brazil, founded by Ricardo Castro in 2007 and implemented by the State of Bahia through the Secretariat of Justice, Human Rights, and Social Development ( Secretaria de Justiça, Direitos Humanos e Desenvolvimento Social). One of our most critical components is the Social Development Sector, which is composed of eight professionals with educational backgrounds in social work and psychology.

Superar Celebrates Ten Years of International Music-Making

By Andy Icochea Icochea, Music Director, Superar International

What can we do to exert a positive impact on society?

That was the question asked in 2009 by our three founding organizations in Vienna— the Vienna Boys Choir, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and Caritas of the Archdiocese of Vienna. The response was to envision a place where music would be the joining element, the core engine to reach equal opportunity, and the key to reenergizing what is most essential in society: justice, personal realization, and solidarity.

Creating the COVID-19 Community Response Fund

By Dalouge Smith, CEO of The Lewis Prize for Music
The Lewis Prize for Music, a philanthropic foundation established in the United States in 2018, is guided by the mission of partnering with leaders who create positive change by investing in young people through music. We were only two months past announcing our inaugural awards when the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders took effect. At the time, we were finalizing our internal evaluation and identifying lessons learned. We were excited to nearly double the time frame of our process by opening the 2021 Accelerator Award letter of interest in late spring.

"Love People"

House of Good Tones in Srebrenica, Bosnia produced the first global El Sistema-inspired creative project in 2017. "Love People" includes choruses from 14 different countries, singing a song created by House of Good Tones students in 2014 in response to dreadful flooding in their country. The catchy song and video of students expressing their love around the world is catching fire anew online. Please view it and share it widely on social media—our first collective project, for a time when we really need the message and the visibility.

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

Linet Othieno, Ghetto Classics (Nairobi, Kenya)
These past three months have been quite a challenge. We have experienced increased country-wide unemployment, gender-based violence, murder cases, robbery, and much more throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. The Ghetto Classics programs in all centers were closed, and that meant no music for us because most of us depend on the program's instruments.

We recently resumed this month, though, with some tight measures and precautions from the government.

Mary Nakacwa, Architects of Music (Kampala, Uganda)
This was our performance on the last day in January camp training. This is a royal dance from central Uganda, called amagunju dance. It’s a welcome dance and only danced when the king of Buganda kingdom is going to greet his people.

Shortly after this performance, we stopped further training due to the increase of COVID-19.

Pedro Ramos, Harmony Project (California, U.S.A.)
The end of the semester usually brings packed recitals, performances across Los Angeles, and another generation of alumni bidding farewell to their teachers and friends. Staying close to their mission statement of developing communities with music, the Harmony Project and its students thrived with online instruction and finished the semester with overwhelming joy. The HYO Community Page, via the application Band, facilitated and commemorated the achievements of the students. To begin, the winners of the “Practice Everyday Challenge” were announced and celebrated by everyone, including parents.

The Ensemble
Tricia Tunstall

Patrick Scafidi

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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