The Los Angeles Philharmonic has seized the initiative in guiding a national teaching program based on El Sistema, the Venezuelan-based movement that weds music teaching and social work. The orchestra announced on Tuesday that it would open an ofﬁce host yearly conferences and support a training program to sustain the effort.
Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, and the Longy School of Music, in Cambridge, Mass, are joining the orchestra in a partnership to support the movement and will grant master’s degrees in teaching the Sistema method. Bard and Longy are in the process of merging.
The partnership will hire two staff members and serve as a national reference point for Sistema-style “nucleos”, as the individual teaching centers are called, said Deborah Borda, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s president and chief executive ofﬁcer.
El Sistema aims to use the teaching of classical music to improve the lives of poor children and to help underprivileged neighborhoods. It has involved some 400,000 young people in Venezuela and spread to a number of countries, capturing the imagination of leading performers, teachers and executives in classical music.
The Philharmonic-Bard program, inspired by El Sistema, will be called Take a Stand. Its ﬁrst major act will be a conference in Los Angeles from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, involving participants from around the country. Then, starting in June, a ﬁrst round of about 15 students will embark on a one-year master’s program, spending much of their time working at the Philharmonic’s Sistema-like project, the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, and at a charter school in Delano, Calif., associated with Bard, said Karen Zorn, Longy’s president. Longy and Bard are developing the curriculum.
“El Sistema is an inspiration”, said Leon Botstein, the president of Bard.