As I flew back to Boston from Los Angeles following the Take A Stand conference, I was struck by the diversity of landscape of the United States outside my window. The cultures and communities that lie within, and how music is woven in to that fabric. In his session entitled “What’s So Great About Classical Music?” Leon Botstein reminded us that classical western music has not always been an art form defined by professionals. The right fingering or perfect recording was not the original intent of music-making. At its origins, music was a social ritual, a community accessible to everyone, musicians owning their own experience. There were no listeners, only participants.
The essence of El Sistema returns to those origins of creating common dialogue, understanding the importance of an inclusive collective voice built on individual strengths. Students don’t need to be rescued so much as stripping away all of the barriers that keep them from rising to their potential. To be supported in their intrinsic motivation to be part of something larger than themselves. It is participation in creating music - the sharing of struggle and beauty, having fun with friends, a positive empowered community – that ultimately changes lives.
Megan Moran, Sistema Fellow '14