Thursday, January 7, 2010

How Are They Going to Top That?

Whoever creates beauty by playing an instrument and generating musical harmony begins to understand from within what essential harmony is... human harmony.

What could ordinary Canadians learn from the barrios of poverty-stricken Venezuela about social change ... and breathtaking music?

You are about to find out through the course of an extraordinary, at times crazy journey, taken by an otherwise ordinary Canuck named Ken.

When the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra first appeared at Carnegie Hall in January of 2003, there was no shortage of friends, family and acquaintances who would approach Ken with one question.

"How are you going to top that"?

Then it was off to Parna, Italy in October of 2005 and a performance and recording from the Auditorium Paganini, and once again, Ken kept hearing the same question.

"How are you going to top that"?

July of 2007 and the NBYO is on stage at the Concert Hall inside the walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China and upon returning to Canada, Ken realized a pattern had developed.

Same question.

There have been ECMA awards, nationally-televised documentaries and live shows , a riveting in concert DVD with blues colossus Matt Andersen and the question always remain the same:

"How are you going to top that"?

Truth be known, Ken and his cohorts didn't start out to top anything when first getting involved with NBYO other than taking advantage of every opportunity to inspire, nurture talent and create venues to showcase New Brunswick's best young musicians.

And now as 2010 gets underway, NBYO has taken yet another bold leap forward with the launch of a Canadian first - Sistema NB.

This initiative is based on a program that has already changed hundreds of thousands of lives in some of the most poverty-stricken areas of South America through the transformational magic of music. It may be the biggest task NBYO has ever taken on and frankly, Ken feels the pressure of this daunting task.

But, with the strong support of the NBYO board, members, sponsors and families and the growing extended family of New Brunswickers who believe in this orchestra, Ken MacLeod is confident others will see the enormous value in his vision.

The first Sistema New Brunswick centre opened in October 2009 at the Beaverbrook School location in Moncton, NB and Ken reports they are already seeing some fantastic results from kids who would otherwise, have never picked up an instrument. The plan is for Sistema New Brunswick to open, by 2015, four to six such centres around the province, operating in both official languages.

Who could have imagined that one of the best countries in the world to live in - Canada - could adopt a program from Venezuela; one so extraordinary it is being hailed as transformational for individuals and the society?

What started with a handful of kids in a garage, has grown to over 350,000 children learning the instrument of their choice and getting free instruction every weekday afternoon and Saturday mornings.

Would it surprise you to know that El Sistema is not only producing transformational social change, it is also breeding some of the best musicians in the world?

One of those El Sistema kids is Antonio Delgado from Caracas, Venezuela and this international-calibre guest conductor will be on stage with the NBYO on Saturday, January 16, at the Moncton Wesleyan Centre. The evening program will feature a stunning array of Latin, Broadway and Classical tunes, conducted by one of the best young maestros in the world.

Go to the show.

Really listen.

"Hear the Future".

And you might find yourself asking the same question:

"How are they going to top that?"

Just don't be surprised when they do.

"An orchestra is a community where the essential and exclusive feature is that it is the only community that comes together with the fundamental objective of agreeing with itself. Therefore the person who plays in an orchestra begins to live the experience of agreement. And what does the experience of agreement mean? Team practice - the practice of the group that recognizes itself as interdependent, where everyone is responsible for others and the others are responsible for oneself. Agree on what? To create beauty"

1 comment:

Ken MacLeod said...

Well said Gair. And three cheers for our inspired Conductor, James Mark, and talented young musicians. NBYO is a gem in NB and Canada.

Come see what all the fuss is about... Jan 16, 8pm, Wesleyan Centre Moncton -