Monday, 18 February 2013

ISME Sistema SIG News Update #2

1.       International Sistema research groups
(i) ISME Sistema SIG: The next ISME world conference will be in Brazil at Port Alegre from July 20 to 25 2014. Conference has performing groups as well as research presentations and seminars but is only open to ISME members. Anyone can join. See or contact me for further information.

(ii) For those interested in the international organisation of El Sistema, a new LinkedIn group Sistema Research was started last year by Marshall Marcus, Glenn Thomas, Eric Booth and me, as a subgroup of Sistema Global, to discuss evaluation and research work on Sistema inspired projects worldwide. In tandem with this Marshall set up 'SERA' (Sistema Evaluation & Research Archive) on Google Drive with the aim of cataloguing all significant Sistema research and evaluation work worldwide. SERA currently has about 50 members from the US, UK, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, France, Sweden, Switzerland and South Korea. You can join the LinkedIn group by following the link above, and details of SERA and how to join it can be found at . Marshall also wrote a recent piece about Sistema research work at .

(iii) Research proposal: Venezuela's El Sistema programme and its international replications and imitations across the globe have amazed millions of people worldwide during the last few decades. As an integral part of this activity, El Sistema's work has also tangibly demonstrated through concerts, performances and ongoing work that music and playing in an orchestra can help disadvantaged children, and achieve positive social change.

A new field is now growing in which such tangible demonstrations are beginning to be investigated in formal evaluation and research processes that can be used to accurately judge the outcomes of El Sistema work. Such evaluation and research is critical for the reflective capacities of Sistemas, and for the funding, political, media, social, cultural and education institutions that comment upon or have relationships and potential relationships with Sistemas.
Sistema Global is interested in hearing from researchers with relevant credentials who wish to carry out a Sistema Evaluation and Research Literature Review so that as the evaluation and research field for El Sistema work grows, there can be an accurate picture of what already exists.

Proposals, together with suggested timescales and any cost implications are welcome. Please email your outline proposal to;;; and to arrive by Friday March 15th.

(iv) In Harmony Liverpool Research Network: funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The network brings together multi-disciplinary researchers and scholars from the national and international In Harmony and El Sistema communities, including music educationalists; social scientists, anthropologists, psychologists and researchers of cultural policy; public health researchers, economists and political scientists. The network also includes members of professional practice, policy and governance communities, such as cultural organisations, schools and educational bodies, health agencies and social service providers, local and national government representatives. What will the network do? Planned activities include three full-day research workshops and online debates. More news to follow as I get it.

(v) Lukas Pairon < is focussing on studying, over a span of several years, young musicians in a conflict-stricken area such as Gaza (Palestine) and young musicians confronted with and/or participating in violence in Kinshasa (DR Congo) and European cities.  He will do his research through in-depth interviews, using life-narrative accounts research and analysis methodology.  He says that his study is not about how music can bring peace, but about whether and, if so, how the study and active practice of music impacts the personality and views of youngsters and young adults who are in or come out of a life which is affected by conflict and/or violence. Contact Lukas directly if you are interested in pursuing this further.

(vi) I gave a presentation in Leuven, Belgium, at the 21st EAS conference on The Reflective Teacher on February 14th. This on-going research is looking at how teaching as part of a Sistema inspired programme in England influences the teachers' approach. The intention is to extend this work internationally, based on the pilot in England. Contact me if you wish to be involved or to know more.

(vii) Andrea Creech (Institute of Education, University of London and ISME Board member) and I are submitting a proposal for a further piece of research – working title: The Pedagogy of Social Action Programmes through Music: Principles and Practice. Contact me if you wish to know more.

2.       Brazilian Brilliance
Vanessa Rodrigues is currently in the process of incorporating Brazil Strings as a Canadian not-for-profit organization. You can find out more about this project at the following website: Vanessa's two main objectives are to assist Canadian would-be volunteer string teachers to participate in similar projects as the one she is currently involved in in Rio de Janeiro, and also to foster exchanges between the Brazilian students and Canadian students participating in similar El Sistema-inspired programs in Canada. Contact Vanessa if you need more information: Vanessa Rodrigues

3.       Colleagues in Canada
i) Project Sistema, Canada:  A "Needs Assessment" Study
Following a rapid growth of Sistema-inspired initiatives in Canada in the last five years, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and NAC Foundation convened Canadian Sistema leaders to form a steering committee and commissioned a Needs Assessment Report in anticipation of the formation of a national Sistema organization.

The National Steering Committee was composed of the following Sistema Leaders in Canada:
1.       Tanya Derksen (Director of Education, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra)

2.       Tina Fedeski (The Leading Note Foundation's OrKidstra program, Ottawa)

3.       Ken MacLeod (Sistema New Brunswick)

4.       Darlene Nuqingaq (Iqaluit Music Society; Nunavut Educational Leadership Development Coordinator)

5.       Theodora Stathopoulos (Viva Sistema!, Quebec Music Education Association, Montreal)

6.       David Visentin (Sistema Toronto)

7.       Kathryn Walker (Saint James Music Academy, Vancouver)

The assessment process was led by Geneviève Cimon, Director of Music Education at the National Arts Centre (planning and management) and Inga Petri, President of Strategic Moves (research, facilitation, strategy) and author of the report, in collaboration with the seven-member National Steering Committee.

On December 15, 2012 the National Steering Committee, with participation of invited guest Jonathan Govias, convened in a workshop facilitated by Inga Petri.
The following additional leaders, participated in the survey or workshop:
1.       Ashley Dickey (Brio Music, London)

2.       José Duque (International Avenue Arts and Culture Centre, Calgary)

3.       Minerva Figueroa (El Sistema Aeolian, London)

4.       Susan Naccache (Esperanza Music Project, Mississauga)

5.       Margaret Tobolowska (The Leading Note Foundation's OrKidstra program, Ottawa)

6.       Stephen Wolsley (program associated with Southdale Chaplaincy, London)

Similarly, the following individuals had contributed information and their perspectives during the initial proposal preparation consultation or during the needs assessment phase:
1.       Jessica Balboni (Director of Orchestra Leadership Academy, League of American Orchestras)

2.       Eric Booth (Sistema USA)

3.       Katherine Carleton (Orchestras Canada)

4.       Jonathan Govias (Abreu Fellow, Symphony Nova Scotia)

5.       Richard Hallam (In Harmony Sistema England, ISME Sistema SIG)

6.       Brian Levine (Glenn Gould Foundation)

7.       Dr. Judith Marcuse (International Centre of Art for Social Change)

8.       Marshall Marcus (In Harmony Sistema England, Sistema Europe, Sistema Africa)

9.       Dr. Ann Patteson (Director of Research, Royal Conservatory of Music)

10.   Dantes Rameau (Abreu Fellow, Atlanta Music Project)

11.   Dalouge Smith (Executive Director, San Diego Youth Symphony)

12.   Glenn Thomas (Sistema Global)

13.   Stanford Thompson (Abreu Fellow, Play on, Philly!)

14.   Jason van Eyk (ArtsSmarts)

During the December 2012 Workshop findings from the needs assessment research were vetted and key roles that a national entity could play in Canada were outlined. The day-long discussion revealed a consensus on the positive role for a national Sistema organization in Canada.
This report to the ISME #2 Newsletter was prepared by using excerpts and data from the Final Needs Assessment Report entitled Towards a National Sistema Network, written by Inga Petri, "Strategic Moves".

Respectfully submitted by Theodora Stathopoulos (, ISME Board of Directors member

ii) The Canadian Music Educators' Association/L'Association canadienne des musiciens éducateurs (CMEA/Acme) writes a position paper on the Sistema movement in Canada (November 2012).
This is possibly the first music educators' organization to write a position paper in order to present the music educators' collective perspective on Sistema programming within a country where music education is part of the elementary and high school curriculum. Furthermore, the paper attempts to shed light on the impact and benefits Sistema – inspired programs can have on Canadian children. In conclusion, notwithstanding certain negative aspects of such programs, the CMEA/Acme endorses Sistema-inspired initiatives based on their promise for social transformation and their ability to, potentially, make a positive contribution to music education in Canada.

The full paper is available to download from the CMEA/Acme website:

Respectfully submitted by Theodora Stathopoulos, President, Canadian Music Educators' Association/L'Association canadienne des musiciens éducateurs (CMEA/Acme)

(iii) Noemi Weis writes: I wanted to share with all that we now have a study guide to accompany our film Teaching the Life of Music that has been prepared by Curriculum Services Canada. We are hoping that this will help educators see the value of sharing the film in class and be inspired to bring Sistema like programs to their communities and schools. If any of you are interested in bringing the study guide to your community, please send me an email and will discuss. Noemi Weis

4.       Sistema Europe Members
Sistema Europe has representation from 24 countries, involving 31 organisations and 29 nucleos with projects either having started or about to start. If you are in Europe and are not linked to this group, do let me know.

EU funding applications
(i) The application for funds for the ESEDP (El Sistema European Development Programme) was formally submitted and we await a decision on its success shortly. Many thanks to Superar for co-ordinating this initiative. Anyone registered as an associate in this project will receive funds towards international meetings between 2013 and 2015 if the application is successful. Contact me if you wish to know more about this group.

(ii) I have been leading a proposal from In Harmony Sistema England (IHSE) on a potential EU countries + Canada submission. IHSE will lead the project and take on most of the workload. The plan is to develop the submission by April, agree final details at a meeting of Sistema Europe in Sweden on April 20th and submit the application before the May 1st 2013 closing date. Please let me know if you want to be involved in any way.

Future meetings of Sistema Europe
(iii) Sistema Europe's next scheduled meeting will be in Gothenburg 20 April 2013 provisionally from 16.00 to 18.00. From April 17 to 20 Gothenburg will host the fourth El Sistema Festival Side by Side! Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Academy of Music and Drama and the City of Gothenburg welcomes anyone who is interested in knowing more to the festival with concerts, lectures, workshops, debates, international guests and lots of meetings. You can book a ticket to the big concert with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and El Sistema in Gothenburg on . At 13.00 and 15.00, immediately prior to our meeting on Saturday, 20/4 2013 there will be two Side by Side concerts. Presenters at the conference include Eric Booth; Nicola Killean; Marshall Marcus; Tricia Tunstall.

(iv) Following the meeting in Sweden meetings may take place in London end of June 2013, and Salzburg in the last week of July 2013. We are all hoping that the Salzburg meeting may focus on how established Sistemas can help new, aspiring and recently formed Sistemas. Marshall is discussing this with the Festival and Superar. 

Potential Save the Date
(v) Marshall Marcus is currently working on a weekend project for 29-30 June 2012 in London which will see a joint presentation of Sistema work from many English music education and Sistema inspired organisations, together with a symposium looking at the questions, what makes for a successful translation of El Sistema in developed western democracies,  and what successful models currently exist for that translation? More details to follow.
(vi) Etienne Abelin (Switzerland), Marshall Marcus (England and CEO of the EUYO) plan to attend the 'classical:next' conference in Vienna between May 29 and June 2nd. They will lead a networking meeting, "Sistema Europe" in a semi-formal setting and will invite other interested delegates to join in to find out how to join the network or to cooperate with us. Some of the time will be used to discuss how this cooperation could be put into effect. For details of registration see:

5.       English projects get inspired
A delegation of 14 people from 7 English Sistema inspired programmes has just returned from a trip to Venezuela. For further information about the trip contact or visit;;

6.       News update from France
Congratulations to Pascale Macheret! The creation of Passeurs d'Arts El Sistema-France is announced. Their first "Godmother and Godfathers" are: Alexandra Soumm (violinist),  Thomas Leleu (2112 award revelation classical music tuba) and Tarsisio Barreto Ceballo,conductor of Lara Symphony orchestra, Venezuela. Their projects and objectives are to apply the principles of El Sistema in France and create 23 pilot schools in France between now and 2018 .

7.       News from Ireland:
Sistema Symposium: Lisa Grossman (Ireland) attended the Social Action Through Music Symposium, which took place in Philadelphia US, December 3-5, 2012, Thanks to Lisa for the following insight:
"I was able to go Philadelphia, and it was incredibly interesting. Most representatives were from America, but there were also people from New Zealand and Armenia. The current Abreu fellows are compiling two reports at the moment based on all the things we talked about in focus groups, and those reports should be published in the next few weeks. One report will focus on teaching practices and the other will look at things from an administrative point of view. Given the range and depth of the many discussions I am sure that these reports will serve as wonderful guidelines for the future of Sistema inspired programmes. Lisa is very happy for people to contact her if they would like to know more.  She also writes "One little gem that I picked up is that the CEO of the Philadelphia nucleo "Play on Philly", Stanford Thompson, sends an invoice to the mayor of Philadelphia every six months, for the amount of money he estimates that his project is saving the city overall. The Mayor has yet to pay, but now he comes to see the kids play in concerts!"

University Concert Hall in Limerick will host 'Express Yourself' will take place on 21st June 2013 at 1pm to celebrate Ireland's Love: Live Music Day. All 300 children from Sing Out with Strings will take to the stage to perform their own compositions, with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and special guests. This concert will also celebrate their 5th birthday. The intention is to follow the concert with a day of workshops for Community Musicians but details on this are yet to be confirmed. Contact Kathleen Turner, Community Engagement Manager, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Tel. +353 61 234632, Email: for further information.

8.       Information from Israel
Dr Adena Portowitz from the Givat Washington Academic College, Israel,  visited In Harmony Lambeth and a number of the English First Access programmes earlier this month. Adena is developing a teacher training course and would be interested in hearing from colleagues who want to know more. Her email address is:

9.       Exciting developments in Italy
An exciting training programme started in January in Lombardy involving workshops for teachers and cooperation between active nucleos. Watch this space for more news from Maria in the next update.

10.   Congratulations to Portugal
Etienne Abelin (Switzerland) writes: "I just came back from Lisbon where Antonio Wagner showed me a school of Orquestra Geracao, wonderful, a real delight!" Congratulations to all involved in Portugal.

11.   Sistema USA
(i)                  I have placed copies of the December, January and February monthly Sistema US 'The Ensemble' magazine in the Google Drive 'Publications by other organisations' Folder, giving a feel for what is going on in the Sistema world in the US. Contact if you wish to receive the magazine directly.

(ii)                Congratulations to newly elected Board of Directors of National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs: The new Board of Directors of the National Alliance has been elected! They are: Eric Barth, Mark Churchill, Laura Jekel, Camille Kolles, Richard Mukamal, Albert Oppenheimer, Anna Pietraszko, Delia Raab-Snyder, Rey Ramirez, Aurelia Rocha, Mark Sarich, Patrick Slevin, and Stanford Thompson. Bios and reasons for coming onto the board can be found at the Alliance website: Next, the Board of Directors will begin meeting, electing officers and getting the work of the Alliance off the ground. We hope that you will offer them your support as they begin to make the Alliance a valuable tool for all the programs and children you are nurturing and to make the inspiration of El Sistema felt across the nation. Visit el Sistema USA at:

12.   Sistema Fellow Elaine Sandoval writes:
I'm writing this from California, where I've just had the opportunity to present a paper on El Sistema and the ensemble in educating cosmopolitanism at this year's Soka Education Conference, held at my alma mater. My presentation represents a personal point of reflection and departure. Preparing it has sent my previous Sistema research through the prism of my experiences this year as a Sistema Fellow at New England Conservatory. At the same time, it closes a chapter; I intuit a fresh start in my inquiry that will begin when I arrive in Venezuela a week from today to experience firsthand the movement that brings us together.

Preparing for this conference has had me digging through my previous writing on El Sistema and music education, but more importantly, reimagining these ideas from my new perspective as a fellow. It may seem paradoxical, but I've realized the extent to which my firsthand involvement in the Sistema field this year has enabled encounters with other likeminded work. I chose to spend the fall fieldwork residency portion of my fellowship in New York City, and I forged connections with a number of non-Sistema music and arts programs which identify with similar social goals.  I've long been fascinated by the process of Sistema as it globalizes, and these encounters provided me with new vision and conviction of Sistema working in the US. At the same time, they also expanded my understanding of what Sistema can and must learn from other good work, and how much potential the movement still has to grow into.

Balancing this renewed interest in informing Sistema with other work is an appreciation for the Sistema network which I've gotten to know even better as a fellow. In December at the Social Action through Music Symposium in Philadelphia, I supported teaching artists from Sistema programs as they grappled with ideas of promising classroom practice. Just days following, I was able to participate in the first-ever New York City seminario, watching students from five Sistema programs play together and rehearse with members of the Simon Bolivar. I believe the Sistema movement's strength lies in its network, and I look forward to increased collaboration, particularly in research and inquiry, as the movement and excitement grow.

As I depart for Venezuela, my preparation has, perhaps yet again paradoxically, involved shedding my expectations and specific learning goals –I'm seeking simply to live and breathe Sistema as much as I can in those few weeks. However, I will step into Caracas with a renewed sense of the interconnectedness in our networks, both within the now global Sistema field and within the larger ecosystem of music education. I seek to somehow engage these networks in my experience, to somehow contribute my bit to the strength of our movement by enabling others to vicariously live and breathe Sistema through my humble Venezuelan experiences. I thus invite your dialogue regarding Venezuela and other aspects of the Sistema Fellows Program:

13.   Sistema Global
(i)                  Marshall Marcus and I are exploring closer links with Sistema USA via conversations with Eric Booth and Glenn Thomas as part of Sistema Global.

(ii)                Also, hosted by Sistema Global, Sistema USA launched The Ensemble Book Club on February 1. It is an experiment to see if they can advance their practice through online discussion, learning together without having to be in the same room. The focus is currently on the book 'Drive' by Daniel Pink, which reports the research on intrinsic motivation; and the group is exploring what this means for teaching and environment-building in El Sistema-inspired programs. Three colleagues shared some thoughts in a podcast, as a teaser to start everyone's thinking:  Eric Booth writes that "we also hope to learn how a facilitated online discussion can enhance our understandings and practices. Start reading!"

(iii)               Marshall Marcus has just returned from Sphinx's inaugural convocation about diversity in the performing arts – see for his interesting blog

To join The Ensemble Book Club  (which is a Sistema Global subgroup on LinkedIn), go to this address, and click on "Join Subgroup" (if you are already a Sistema Global member)" or "sign up" if you are not, and follow the prompts. Instructions also appear in the issue.

With thanks again to everyone who has contributed to this newsletter. Please continue to let me have your news and I will collate and circulate it. Please also let me have your feedback regarding the format and content of this ISME Sistema SIG News email.


Richard J Hallam MBE
ISME Sistema SIG Chair
MEC Treasurer
IHSE Director and Trustee

No comments:

Post a Comment