I warmly greet the Class of Sistema Fellows 2014 and all of those Fellows who came before, and with whom the Friends of the Sistema Fellows have shared such an enriching and meaningful time.
More than ever I am convinced that each Class of ten was appointed by the Muses to experience growth and discovery together, in short, was compelled to meet at the crossroads of Boston. I applaud our fearless leader Tony Woodcock for pledging to commit the resources to this Program that fosters in this country and beyond the now legendary movement for social change, El Sistema.
Whether on a mountain top in Peru scanning the web to locate such a Fellowship as NEC offered, or holding dear the dream to integrate native Alaskan music within a curriculum of classical music that would unify an entire state across indigenous cultures, or harboring the hope of bringing change and hope to communities in cities such as Baltimore, Cleveland, Los Angeles – and countless other ones besides – you sought out and were selected for this pioneering mission that NEC offered you.
While each one of you, “the Fifty,” possess much in common - the stamp of a professionally engaged musician, the dedication to education of youth through music, and prior commitment to community service work - you each also hold in your hands a set of unique gifts and personal experiences to better inform your work. Some have brought a love for composition, or choral music to their quest, another possesses a desire to combine medicine with music, and many more besides, are entrepreneurially inclined and strive to interface with other community groups in order to find creative ways to become sustainable. But beyond these goals, it is your caring for others, your capacity to share the joy in music, your deep humanity and your sparkling charismatic personalities that resound in a personal way for me.
If you can make children as happy as I find I am in your company, there are no bounds to your success! My fellow Committee members and I believe that you are entrusted with a precious resource that in five years has already benefitted the communities in which you serve, making an impact on countless children’s lives, neighborhoods, and assisting in the rapid fire growth and high quality of nascent nucleos both in the United States and with our neighbors abroad. Following the model of El Sistema that insists on excellence in music and is based on absolute trust in teachers, peer teaching, and barring exclusion from the right to make music, you too will take these values and as the core group of fifty, transfer this precious legacy on to those who have not been privileged to train directly with NEC.
As I heard El Maestro say to us in Caracas seven years ago when we pondered where to even begin our efforts to launch this program, “we must look to the young and trust in them to find creative solutions and help to build this movement in the U.S.” Please rest assured that in the next years, the Friends and all of us at NEC will strive to provide you with the ongoing resource of connectivity, advice and professional support so that you can blossom in your endeavours. Boston is always a home to you.
The Friends of the Sistema Fellows are deeply proud of all that you have accomplished and personally, I cannot wait to take that big road trip (well, maybe with a few hops in a plane) to visit the flourishing nucleos that you have already created and will continue to bring to life.
Suki de Braganca
Chair, Friends of the Sistema Fellows Committee
Suki surrounded by 28 Sistema Fellows