Friday, August 29, 2008

[Essay] El Sistema: The Music Of Hope

I first learned about this free music program when I stumbled upon Yahoo’s 60-minute series interview with Gustavo Dudamel, hailing him as the brightest star yet to shine in the music industry.  And after watching all the related video clips, I couldn’t help but ask for more! That is how simply brilliant the man is! Anyone could be easily addicted not only to him but to music as well. It makes you want to hold a favorite musical instrument and start playing. He has this effect of awakening your appreciation, passion and talent for music. And everything simply takes my breath away when you see Gustavo Dudamel conduct an orchestra with such verve. In one video clip of a practice session, he was inspiring, in the sense that he makes his musicians understand what the classical piece is all about, making them feel the emotions the music is trying to convey. He wants perfection and he knows how to get it without being too harsh or insulting. If he isn’t getting what he wants from his musicians, he describes it in a way that everyone can relate to and the result? The music becomes the greatest rendition ever. And that is because Gustavo Dudamel understands the message of the music and he makes sure his musicians understands it as well and plays it according to what he imagined it should sound like… breathtaking!

And just when I thought I’ve had enough of him, I’d be watching another video clip from the same series and I’d be hearing him talk about the Sistema. Founded by Jose Antonio Abreu inVenezuela, with the sole purpose of “…not creating professional musicians…but rescuing the children…” from poverty, violence, drugs, a life of crime. And like I said earlier, it is all for the benefit of underprivileged children of Venezuela and is absolutely free. Creating professional musicians out of these children can only be termed as the byproduct of the children’s hard work, dedication, and the determination to have a better life; and of the unfailing support and guidance of world-class music educators and musicians in lending a helping hand and their invaluable time to teach these children how to play such lovely and timeless pieces and “... research has shown that music has changed the lives of the children, of their families, of entire communities…”

I believe music does change lives and how I wish more than ever that the Sistema be an integral part of every nation and that something splendid like that be an integral part of the Philippines too. Welcome to Casa San Miguel, Zambales… home of the Bolipata siblings and their families of gifted musicians and artists in their own right. I heard about this twin sister of the Sistema, perhaps two years ago, when I was looking for an affordable music school to pursue my musical interests but sad to say, their website has to be taken down to cut down on operating costs because like the Sistema, the very reason for its existence is to help underprivileged children have a better future and like the Sistema, it has helped thousands of talented, hard-working kids become the best among professional musicians in the country and in a few years more, these kids will become the best Filipino professional musicians in the world. And that would be something to be proud of.

And since it seems apparent that the United States of America is taking a look at adopting the Sistema and integrating it into all public schools throughout the country, I pray this pushes through and that other countries will follow in the footsteps of their predecessor and likewise, I pray for the continued support and success of Casa San Miguel not only in Zambales but that it expands throughout the Philippines, helping more children gain positive life changes through music.

Related Links:
1.       Gustavo Dudamel, Jose Antonio Abreu & El Sistema >> http://www.gustavodudamel.com
2.       Yahoo 60-minutes on Gustavo Dudamel >>http://60minutes.yahoo.com/segment/143/gustavo_dudamel
3.       Yahoo 60-minutes on El Sistema >> http://60minutes.yahoo.com/segment/184/el_sistema