My goal was to make sure that music was accessible to students across the nation, despite their backgrounds. I believe that music is the one thing that really unites us all, that transcends all borders, and this was something I wanted to bring to life.
Representing the dreams of 250,000 children, and showcasing one of the finest fruits of Colombia's El Sistema-based, youth orchestra initiative, the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia made its North American debut Friday night, in Miami Beach.
The milagro (magic) of El Sistema -- Venezuela's program of taking impoverished kids and teaching them classical music -- can be summed up in one sentence uttered by its founder: "If you put a musical instrument in the hand of a kid, he or she will not pick up a gun."
In 2008, I made my first visit to Venezuela to see El Sistema. By then, I had heard several colleagues' reports about the miracle that was happening in this developing country. But nothing prepared me for the powerful impact of music and music-making I experienced.
Take a look at the Lady Gaga parody,"Snakes Are Born This Way," created by second graders and their teachers at Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston for a smile and a reminder of what learning and high quality student work can look like.
Why do we assume classics are impenetrable and obsolete? Why do we imagine that an ecology that privileges "emerging artists" while all but abandoning mature ones, let alone historical ones, will have resonance in the long run?