The World Ensemble
Dear Subscriber,

In the U.S., the presidential election endures another day, and perhaps longer. It often feels as if elections serve to answer big questions like “Who are we?” But as teaching artists, we know better than most that a region’s ideology, culture, and identity is never a monolith, no matter what corner of the world you’re in. We are large; we contain multitudes.

This November World Ensemble focuses on the ways we make space for different cultures in our teaching. Our editorial comes from a public health advisor with suggestions on how to expand your advocacy and capacity during this pandemic. On Rapa Nui (or “Easter Island”), ancient Polynesian culture does not take a back seat to recent Western practices. A growing school in southern Uganda helps make the world feel a bit smaller for young people. And the World Ensemble cofounder reminds us to make space in this big tent for all young people, not just those in our programs.

Plus, our friends in Venezuela share their many good experiments during quarantine, made possible by their enormous capacity and resources, and the European Parliament celebrates “The Rights of the Child” on November 20.

Let these stories steel your resolve. Good work is happening everywhere—we need only keep sharing with each other.

Thanks for reading,
The WE Team

Arts Education and Public Health: Building New Partnerships for a Post-COVID World

By Daniel Mora-Brito, Special Advisor, External Relations and Communications Division, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
One of El Sistema’s most striking comparative advantages is its ability to bridge gaps across communities. The replication of this model in multiple geographies has repeatedly demonstrated the uniting and transformative power of music and its value as a cornerstone for social integration and cohesion. The knock-on effects of COVID-19 could undermine El Sistema’s positive impact, presenting its advocates and practitioners with great challenges. However, the pandemic also presents opportunities to rethink the tenets of arts education and its use as a vehicle for social change, wellbeing, and inclusion. How can El Sistema survive the current global crisis and, more importantly, shed light on how to help rebuild broken and diminished societies? What can be done to ensure that the model adapts to and thrives in these new circumstances and becomes part of critical policy conversation on sustainable development—and, even more important, the realm of public health?

El Sistema Venezuela: Academic Strategies in Times of Confinement

By Eduardo Méndez, Executive Director, Fundamusical
As the new school year takes off, we think it is a good moment to reach out to our friends in Sistema-inspired projects around the world, to share our experiences in teaching and caring for our kids throughout the months of quarantine.

The Toki School of Music: A Living Legacy in
Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui, the most isolated inhabited place on earth, is the birthplace of the Rapanui people, who call their island “the navel of the world.” With deep, ancient roots, the island attempts to balance its past—including difficult recent memories of colonization in the 1860s—with its prosperous growth in the Western context. In this unique setting, music has played a pivotal role in building collaboration and coexistence between multiple cultures and lifestyles. In my opinion, no organization has embodied that balance more than the Toki School of Music, which celebrates its people’s authenticity in an increasingly modern world.

The International School of Music, Languages and Polytechnic Studies: A Longtime Dream Becomes Reality

By Joseph Wasswa, Founder and CEO, IMLS
Music can unite the world, produce unity and harmony in the community, and offer social and financial assurance. Having grown up humbly myself, I began dreaming in 2011 of starting an academic institution and cultural center for the young generation in my home area of Masaka, Uganda. That dream became the International School of Music, Languages and Polytechnic Studies (IMLS), located in the city of Masaka, near Lake Victoria.

The European Parliament Celebrates the Rights of the Child on November 20, in Partnership with Sistema Europe and the Alliance for Childhood European Network Group
The Board of Sistema Europe invites its European Association and Network members to join in celebrating World Children’s Day on November 20. Sistema Europe has been invited by the Alliance for Childhood European Network Group to participate in an online celebration of the rights of the child, streaming live on Friday, November 20, from 16:10–17:00 CET. Colleagues in all countries are invited to attend the live stream, available at this Zoom link, and details will be published on in due course.

Expanding the “We” of El Sistema

By Eric Booth, cofounder of The Ensemble and The World Ensemble
Ever since El Sistema came to North America over a decade ago, spawning over 150 separate programs, there has been discussion about how El Sistema programs should connect with other programs that don’t consider themselves part of that lineage. We’ve asked ourselves questions about whether to and how to connect to school music programs, to more traditional youth music programs, to existing community music programs. In the slow, barely visible ways that change actually unfolds, there are new answers emerging in the North American Sistema movement.

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

Ambassadors Talks: Tricia Tunstall

Aside from working together on projects and publishing updates about their respective Sistema programs, Ambassadors are given the opportunity to receive various forms of enrichment throughout the year. This month, they met with Tricia Tunstall, who cofounded The Ensemble and The World Ensemble newsletters and authored the seminal book Playing for Their Lives: The Global El Sistema Movement for Social Change Through Music.

The Ambassadors listened as Tunstall recounted her life experiences and the unexpected adventures that have accompanied her career. This led into an interactive conversation that ranged from personal challenges to unique El Sistema programs, to the historical impact of 2020, to career and life advice. It was an hour of dreams and inspiration that left the young artists thinking about their own place in the world.

Coming Soon. Later this month we will invite program leaders around the world to nominate students to the 2021 World Ensemble Ambassadors cohort. Led by Ambassador-graduate Axelle Miel, Ambassadors share stories from their home programs, collaborate on musical and cultural projects, and receive mentoring opportunities as a part of this leadership development initiative. Look for details in the mid-month Resource Basket that you will get in two weeks.
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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