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El Sistema – An Idea Spreading throughout the World

26 APR 2013

published in: Concert

Andreas Treichl, Alexander Pereira, Doraja Eberle, Helga Rabl-Stadler, Werner Binnenstein-Bachstein, Michael Hilti (Photo: Katharina Schiffl)
Two years ago, we had the good fortune to travel to Venezuela to see Maestro José Antonio Abreu and experience El Sistema firsthand. This was an overwhelming experience for us, in musical and human terms. Therefore, it was our heartfelt wish to bring El Sistema to Salzburg, giving you the opportunity to witness the entire breadth of this fascinating orchestral and choral education programme which has been widely imitated throughout the world. Six ensembles with 1300 young members will provide you with an insight into the profound vision of Maestro Abreu, the founder of El Sistema and recipient of innumerable international awards for his initiative. 

The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra has already appeared twice at the Salzburg Festival under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel. Not only the National Children’s Orchestra, but also the White Hands Choir will be performing for the first time outside of Venezuela. The goal of El Sistema at the Salzburg Festival is not only to demonstrate the incredibly high musical standard of the young musicians, from the children’s orchestra to the professional symphony orchestra. The Festival wants to offer lasting impulses for new developments and efforts in Europe to introduce children and teenagers to classical music and joint music-making. Of course, this also means involving existing initiatives, like the Austrian organisation superar, the Mozart Children’s Orchestra of the Mozarteum Foundation and the Salzburg Festival and Theatre Children’s Chorus. 

El Sistema demonstrates the extent to which music can change society in a way that is unique throughout the world. In Europe, we tend to forget the important role that singing and making music together play in the personality development of children and teenagers. Among many other things, El Sistema is meant to inspire and encourage those who struggle in their daily work to keep providing music lessons in schools and music schools.
We thank the three partners for El Sistema at the Salzburg Festival who have made it possible to present El Sistema for the first time in all its facets outside of Venezuela.

El Sistema – an idea spreading throughout the world. Join us. 

Helga Rabl-Stadler, President
Alexander Pereira, Artistic Director 

“The idea of El Sistema has enormous positive social power and is a role model radiating far beyond South America. The European initiative superar and its first steps, which we were fortunate to witness as a partner in Vienna, demonstrate this. Through our support, we want to give this idea a greater platform in Austria and Central Europe. This summer offers the unique opportunity to make an encounter between the two initiatives possible: children from Vienna’s Favoriten district, from Bratislava, Bucharest and Srebrenica make music together with children from Caracas as part of the Salzburg Festival!” Andreas Treichl, CEO of Erste Group, voices his enthusiasm. 

"We were immediately fascinated by the idea – after all, it is as simple as it is successful: daily vocal lessons develop not only the voice, but also the personality. Children from difficult circumstances discover their talents and develop self-confidence. We have been cooperating with superar in Austria for several years. Thanks to the ERSTE Foundation, 600 children are being supported, 30 performances take place every year, and the Cultural Centre at the Old Anker Bread Factory is being established. Now we have also begun to back and enable activities in Eastern Europe, not least with our know-how of the local civil society and the contacts provided by our educational and social network”, says Doraja Eberle, Chairwoman of the Board of the ERSTE Foundation, about the partnership for El Sistema.

"The Hilti Foundation has supported El Sistema since 2008, first with a focus on the purchase of high-quality instruments, and now also by financing guest appearances by the El Sistema orchestras abroad. These guest appearances – and the residency at the Salzburg Festival is one of them – are essential in order to transport the idea and philosophy of El Sistema out into the world, and to encourage the founding of new initiatives. This goal also motivates our support for similar projects, including ones in Colombia, Bolivia, South Africa, Rumania and our partnership with superar in Austria, in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Our contribution is meant to foster the development of young people. And we want to encourage them not only to turn their talent into a profession, but beyond that: to learn the foundations for an independent and self-determined life, namely team spirit, reliability, discipline and the knowledge that only constant and persistent training and learning lead to success,” says Michael Hilti, President of the Board of the Hilti Foundation. 

"Music moves and touches us, and for children in the poor quarters of Venezuela it is also able to push the limits and tear down social boundaries. Anyone who has witnessed the value it can have, anyone who has seen children’s eyes light up during a Tchaikovsky Symphony probably only understands the importance of El Sistema fully at that moment. For that reason, and also because we in Central Europe can learn from this musical network at the heart of Latin America, partnering in supporting, co-developing and comprehensively presenting El Sistema at the 2013 Salzburg Festival on Servus TV is very important to us,” declares Klaus Bassiner, Programme Director of Servus TV, a company of Red Bull Media House.