El Sistema is a free music education program in Venezuela, for young children that come from poor socio-economic backgrounds. The program was founded 40 years ago by José Antonio Abreu, an economist, politician, conductor and pianist, as a means of attracting the young generation to classical music while granting values which may bring about social change. By offering free instruments and tuition through a network of after-school centers all over the country, the Sistema has kept thousands of children away from the drugs, alcohol and gang-related violence of the streets and has led to the creation of dozens of professional orchestras in the country.
Currently half a million children attend the Sistemas schools.
Among the numerous youth orchestras that were established under the Sistema program, stands the remarkable world-renowned Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela under its music director Gustavo Dudamel who himself is a product of the Sistema and is also the musical director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra, tours the world playing to sold out audiences in the prominent venues around the world. After it was no longer officially a youth orchestra because the average age of the players had risen too high, it has been replaced by the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra, which now is the national high school age youth orchestra of El Sistema
The model was adopted in many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and in a small scale in Israel.
New York Times/Culture
By Gabe Johnson
Mar. 1, 2012
By Daniel J. Wakin
Atlanta Music Project
Ofer Sela, "TheMarker", 23.4.14
"As the General Director of the Israel Sinfonietta Beer-Sheva, and formerly a School Chairman and Chairman of the Education Committee in the Yoav Regional Council, I am well aware about the potential hidden in cultural activities for children and teenagers ...".
E. The Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra
The Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra contains the best high school musicians from Venezuela's music program, El Sistema.