BY Heidi Evans
“From the minute a child is taught how to play an instrument, he’s no longer poor. He becomes a child in progress, heading for a professional level, who’ll later become a citizen” – Maestro Jose Abreu, founder of El Sistema music program.
Sometimes, all it takes is a violin to save a child from violence.
That unorthodox notion is at the heart of a charismatic Washington Heights pastor’s dream to bring a visionary global music program to northern Manhattan in the fall.
Known as “el Sistema” – or “the system,” it’s about saving children who live in poverty by teaching them to play or sing classical music in a youth orchestra.
The brainchild of economist and musician Jose Abreu, who started the first youth orchestra in 1975 in Venezuela, Sistema is essentially a social system that fights poverty.
Children as young as 2 years old begin to learn rhythm, and as they grow up and learn to play with their peers in an orchestra, they become part of a community outside the poverty that would otherwise destroy them.
“We are picking up on this dream that is now 36 years old to make a difference in the lives of children in Washington Heights,” said Pastor Barrie Lawless, who presides at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church on Bennett Ave.
Lawless, a former musician from England who moved to New York six years ago, has teamed up with conductor Armando Chibras, who led el Sistema youth orchestras in Mexico.
See below for the trailer for the film on El Sistema
Check out their version of a Leonard Bernstein number.
For more info: el-sistema-film.com/