The El Sistema in The World
The El Sistema Methodology was founded in 1973 in Venezuela by Dr. José António Abreu (Erasmus Prize) as both a musical and a social project. Dr Abreu wanted that through music, more specifically, orchestra playing, children from all over Venezuela could learn how to live together, develop their skills and stay away from crime and drugs. So he began forming an orchestra of good professional musicians and then after a certain time he send them to different neighborhoods ( difficult ones) and stared teaching them music based on a very simple idea : if you learn to speak imitating your parents speaking, you can better learn an instrument simply by imitating your teacher. This methodology proved right and now, in Venezuela there are 500.000 children and youths in the El Sistema project, and every town , from Amazonia to urban Caracas have an orchestra and a choir. After 42 years the El Sistema , now represented by Fundacion Musical Simon Bolivar, has three symphony orchestras of international standards ( Orquestra Sinfónica Simon Bolivar, Orquestra Teresa Carreño and Caracas Youth Orchestra) and a most celebrated conductor Gustavo Dudamel ( musical director of the Los Angeles Philarmonic).
From almost the beginning Dr Abreu wanted to extend the method to other countries hoping always that it would fulfill the same objectives as a social project as it was doing in Venezuela. So nowadays you have the El Sistema all over the world, mainly in Latin America (Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala ,Costa Rica, Mexico), the USA, Canada, almost all Europe(Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark ,Holland ,France, Portugal, Austria, Italy, Croatia, Servia and Greece). Africa ( Angola and Mozambique) and Asia are possibly the continents where the El Sistema hasn’t reached many countries. The European projects are now organizing themselves in a Association, the Sistema Europa.
The El Sistema in Portugal
We work in public schools (Lisbon, Vila Franca de Xira , Loures , Amadora ,Lisbon Oeiras , Sintra and Sesimbra, Almada and Coimbra) where we find children from different origins – Caucasian , African ( from the ancient Portuguese colonies) and Gypsy communities.
Pedagogically speaking it is the National Conservatorium of Music in Lisbon that is responsible for applying the Venezuelan Sistema in the selected schools; therefore they have nominated one member of the board and one teacher as coordinators of the project. Each orchestra performs several times for their school and local organizations, and twice a year they are brought together and perform as a whole, in prestigious theaters around Lisbon, Oporto and even abroad (Brussels – European Commission).
The National Conservatorium and several Venezuelan and Sistema Europe teachers, organize each year one Summer Camp with musicians who come directly from Venezuela to give our teachers classes in different subjects( technical classes for instruments, conducting techniques, coral expertise , etc) and also work with the different children’s orchestras.
Financial support is covered by several institutions with different roles and responsibilities. On one side we have 85% from the Government, through the Ministery of Education who totally pay for the teachers (and we are talking of about 80 teachers this year) and the Home Office ( local security plans).Then we have the City Councils from each town that implements this program. They finance the orchestra also through European Union programs for regional development. At last but not the least the private institutions covers roughly 15% of the budget (see Project / Parceiros).
In 2010 the project was awarded the National Teachers Prize (Minister of Education) for innovation and in 2013 and 2014 we received the European Commission award for one of the 50 best social projects in the whole Union. In 2017 honor diploma by Mota Engil Foundation (Oporto) and in 2018 considered the best social project by AGEAS and was awarded the gold medal commemorating the 50 years of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights given by our National Parliament.
Since 2014 the project Orquestra Geração Sistema Portugal is directed by the the Associação das Orquestras Sinfónicas Juvenis Sistema Portugal (AOSJSP).
Orquestra Juvenil Geração – Geração Youth Orchestra
Orquestra Pré- Juvenil Geração – Geração Pre -Youh Orquestra
Orquestra Infantil Geração – Children’s Geração Orquestra
Orquestra Iniciações Geração – My First Orquestra Geração
Orquestra de Afetos – Kindergarten Orquestra
Camerata de Loures - chamber orchestra
Camerata da Amadora – chamber orchestra
GERAJAZZ – Jazz Group
GERASOPROS – Wind Orquestra of Geração
GERACOROS – Choir of the Orquestra Geração
Municipal Orchestra of Amadora – OMGA
Municipal Orquestra of Loures – OMGBNL
Municipal Orchestra of Lisbon – OJMGLx
Intermunicipal Orquestra of the Atlantic - OIGDA