We met up with the teachers that we had observed in the nucleos at the conservatory during the mornings, where they were more than willing to chat about their experience in El Sistema and answer my long list of questions. Aubree and I caught up with Manual, Jorge, Gustavo and Crismar, who are members of the Camarata Larense, a professional choir based at the conservatory that rehearses every evening. Jorge and Crismar teach at the Santa Rosa nucleo, Gustavo at the Incret nucleo, and Manuel at the Maria Pereira de Daza nucleo that we didn't have a chance to visit.
The most fulfilling experience from our time at Barquisimeto, for me, was the chance to get to know some choral singers and to participate with them in some workshops with Maria Guinand of the Schola Cantorum of Venezuela.
They are obviously great friends and have spent a considerable amount of time rehearsing, performing, touring and teaching together. They talked about the curriculum they teach and how they have regular meetings so teaching is unified across the nucleos in the area. This allows them to also organise large collaborative performances - Manuel mentioned one concert that involved 1,300 children. Some of the singers also participate in the famous Coro de Manos Blancas (White Hands Choir) based at the conservatory.
They were very eloquent when talking about the social agenda of El Sistema and also their gratitude for its founder: "It's all about building relationships" and "Maestro Abreu has worked all of his life for us." They expressed a deep belief in the approach of using music to help others.
Continue reading on my personal blog.
Sistema Fellow '14