There are few musicians or educators that can fail to have noticed or been touched by the musical project in Venezuela known as ‘El Sistema’, a project which takes children from the streets of some of the most deprived cities in the world and gives them music and more importantly hope.
This friday a new film is released on DVD and Blu-Ray which documents this project. I will be bringing you a review as soon as I can. In the meantime here is a glimpse of what this system has produced:
I first became aware of this project back in 2007 when the Simon Bolivar orchestra gave the above performance at the BBC Proms. From that time I became intrigued by how musical excellence could come from such humble beginnings.
The film’s press release is as follows:
The film shows the gripping way ‘El Sistema’ functions on a daily basis in a typical nucléo: the ‘La Rinconada’ nucléo is located adjoining the barrio of the same name. The area around the nucléo is considered as one of the most dangerous and poorest areas in Caracas. Up to 300 children find their daily destination here. In the film, three selected young people from the nucléo are accompanied through their daily lives for a whole year. The kids come from different backgrounds, family circumstances and stages of personal development. There are correspondingly few overlaps in their biographies – up until the day when they become part of the ‘system’ and are confronted by their own instruments, as well as the love, persistence and patience of their teachers. One of Jose Antonio Abreu’s key goals is to broaden young people’s horizons and encourage them to organise their own lives in a meaningful, responsible way. The film documents the personal development of the children and teenagers, few of whom will be crowned by a successful musical career. This is, however, not what the system aspires to.The film explores the central question: what can the system accomplish by connecting young people with classical music, and to what extent can it change their lives?
For those that can’t wait for the release there are some brief documentaries available: