|History of Organization|
|Orchestrating Diversity Philosophy|
|Board of Directors|
|St. Louis University|
|Friends of Orchestrating Diversity|
Orchestrating Diversity, a project of the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center, is a social change through music education and performance program. Believing in the transformative power of music to bring discipline and an ability to work in others as well as enrich the self-concept of young people to empower them to their full potential. We bring professional musical training to the youth of St. Louis, especially the underserved communities, in an intensified educational program. We seek to even the playing field with the goal of increasing diversity in the orchestra. More importantly, we aim to replace despair with personal engagement in the creative process as our youth nurture the embrace of diversity as a more rich social design. We are an El Sistema program.
El Sistema began 43 years ago in Caracas, Venezuela. With just eleven children in a parking garage, Dr. José Abreu began his project to liberate Venezuela’s poorest children from the bondage of poverty. His vision was that playing orchestral music together would transform their hopelessness into conviction for the power to create their own futures. With 300,000 children now participating in El Sistema in Venezuela, and over 4 million around the world, it has transformed not only the lives of the children, but also their communities.
In Venezuela, children begin attending their local El Sistema center (or “nucleo”) as early as age 2 to begin working on embodiment of rhythm and expression in music. From this early age they become dedicated to learning music—they attend up to six days a week, three to four hours a day, and also participate in retreats and intensive workshops. Participation is free for all students. Ensemble playing, group learning, peer teaching, and a commitment to the joy that comes with musical learning are all emphasized from the earliest stages in the program.
The artistic successes of El Sistema have been widely touted. Edicson Ruiz, contrabass player, at 17 the youngest player ever inducted into the Berlin Philharmonic. Alcides Rodriguez at 28 the principle clarinetist of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Carlos Izcaray, the 24yo conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. And, of course, the super star of El Sistema, Gustavo Dudamel, the youngest music director of a major orchestra (the Los Angeles Philharmonic). They, like the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela from which they came, have established for the world the musical miracle that is El Sistema.
But the important story is that Abreu refused federal funding until the Venezuelan government agreed to house the program in the Ministry of Public Welfare rather than the Ministry of Culture. The true success of El Sistrma is the thousands of lives spared the degradations of poverty. Today there are well over 150 El Sistema-inspired programs in the USA. They are distinguished from other musical communities by their commitment to social change, in which every child is empowered as an asset to their community. We believe that music education must be accessible to all children, requiring an intense dedication and time-commitment, the involvement with the nucleo of the family in their children’s education, and the involvement of the community and other nucleos through outreach concerts.
For more information, visit elsistemausa.org