El Sistema

June 5th, 2009 — Caracas, Venezuela

I brought my brother Mark and one of my crew Lauchlan Ough on my latest documentary expedition to Caracas Venezuela. Mark took this photo as Lauchlan and I were swarmed by excited young musicians as we rolled an interview on a brilliant 6 year-old violinist. The documentary is about a revolutionary after school classical music program called “El Sistema”. This program has over 300,000 kids starting as young as two years of age. The children who are part of El Sistema are not only becoming world class musicians, but also world class citizens. This segment of the documentary follows Ken MacLeod from the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, David Adams from the Saint John String Quartet, and David Hawkins from communications firm Couleur NB, as they explore how the Venezuelan government and private sectors support such a robust music program that creates such positive social change. The goal is to bring the “system” to New Brunswick. El Sistema has transformed the lives of so many children who may have otherwise had no opportunities in life. Poverty does not only exist in far-away developing countries; it is right in our backyard in New Brunswick. Music has the transformational power to inspire and empower the underprivileged youth population in our province. Classical music sounds much sweeter to me today as I write this postcard in the Air Canada Lounge in Toronto reflecting on this amazing week of musical discovery!

Photo credit: Mark Hemmings

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