Music Fest, partners ‘Take a Stand’ with new initiative |

Music Fest, partners ‘Take a Stand’ with new initiative

Staff report

The Aspen Music Festival and School has partnered with four other prestigious musical organizations to mount the National Take a Stand Festival, the nonprofit announced this week.

The festival is an initiative to create a unified national platform for El Sistema-inspired programs throughout the United States. The festival is a three-year project that will begin in 2015 with a teacher training and pilot program, followed by the formation of regional youth orchestra camps in 2016. It will culminate in a seven-day national youth orchestra camp in 2017, featuring a final performance led by Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel.

El Sistema programs are modeled on Venezuela’s renowned model for social change through music education. Dudamel is among its alumni.

Since being introduced to the U.S. in 2006, El Sistema has taken root in more than 60 communities across the country and today engages more than 10,000 students.

The Aspen Music Festival and School will be host to the 100-plus participants in the El Sistema Youth Orchestra of the West camp in 2016.

World-renowned conductors, guest artists and master teachers will bring their artistry and mentorship to students from underserved communities across the U.S. who have been learning in El Sistema-influenced programs. The project aims to develop a model for excellence and a national community of citizen musicians from historically excluded populations in the U.S.

An international team of teachers, working together with faculty from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Longy School of Music of Bard College, Aspen Music Festival and School and Venezuela’s FundaMusical will lead the youth orchestra camps.

Robert Spano, music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, and Leon Botstein, president of Bard College and music director of the American Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the groups as part of the regional youth orchestras’ final performances in 2016 at venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, Bard College’s Fisher Center and Aspen’s Benedict Music Tent.

The National Take a Stand Festival will work in tandem with El Sistema USA, which serves as a resource network and advocate for the El Sistema movement in the U.S., to reach this goal.

“Here in Aspen, we well know how music-making can transform lives, and through individuals, transform whole communities,” Aspen Music Festival and School president and CEO Alan Fletcher said in a statement. “El Sistema is a powerful force for good, and we are very proud to be partnering with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Longy School of Music, and Bard College in supporting its growth in the United States. In Aspen, the children in this program will join a highly dynamic, international community of professional and student musicians. We look forward to their arrival and hope they will find the immersive musical experience — and the spectacular mountain setting — here as inspiring as we do.”