Disclaimer: I am not a member of Genghis Barbie. Yes I’m female and yes I play horn, but for better or for worse the similarities end there!
I am a classically trained hornist and graduate of the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA. While dedicating myself to practice and performance at the conservatory, I became increasingly more interested in wide-ranging cultural, educational and community engagement arts issues and initiatives (think jazz fusion ensembles, Balkan Brass Bands, the arts and educational research group Project Zero, and the El Sistema movement).
Through the Community Performances and Partnerships Program at the New England Conservatory, I was awarded a fellowship in Performance Outreach and began working as part of a woodwind quintet (I know, I know…) to design and present artistic and educational workshops to Boston area public schools.
Around this same time in 2007, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, El Sistema’s acclaimed orchestral ensemble led by Gustavo Dudamel, was embarking on a tour of North America, complete with a stint at my alma mater! Let’s just say they had me at hello.
Immediately I caught the El Sistema fever and was afforded a powerful glimpse of how music and musicians can effect social change and transcend barriers created by poverty. I began to feel that what El Sistema had demonstrated in Venezuela could have powerful implications for educational, social and arts organizations in the U.S., and it occurred to me that I was perhaps more passionate about the arts learning environment and the artist’s civic role than I was about orchestral performance.
Now, as a New England Conservatory based El Sistema USA staff member, and I am pleased to say that I am seeing newly formed El Sistema-inspired programs begin to blossom in communities across the country.
The future (and coffee!)
Come this fall I will be pursuing further studies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, where I will be building (with the help of caffeine) a foundation in arts based research and continuing my involvement in the growth and development of the El Sistema movement in the United States.
Until next time!