I was interested in the progression of the students through the different levels of the orchestra. My own experience has involved a more rigid system - we think more of progress on the scale of the individual e.g. this musician has reached a certain technical level and is ready to audition for the next orchestra up. Instead, in many nucleos they follow the progress of the group of children and make the call as to whether the group is ready to tackle more advanced repertoire, thus keeping the community of students together as much as possible. They simply change the title of the orchestra from Children to Youth.
It seems that the change in repertoire tackled is the most defining element of the identity of the new orchestra, for example the children know that if they are starting to learn Tchaikovsky's 4th and Shostakovich's 10th symphonies that they are at the next level. There are auditions as well, for the players at the first stand for example. They evaluate the players every week and change the section leaders every six months. There were auditions for the chance to go to Salzburg and for orchestras in Caracas. Many students were preparing for auditions when we were there - an El Sistema favourite, the 4th movement of Tchaikovsky's 4th symphony was chosen as audition material, a piece of popular shared repertoire that everyone wants to participate in.
Continue reading on my personal blog.
Millie (Downs) Combrink, Sistema Fellow '14