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THE SCOOP | Sistema Toronto & The Toronto Symphony Orchestra Announce New Partnership

By Anya Wassenberg on January 23, 2024

Image courtesy of Sistema Toronto
Image courtesy of Sistema Toronto

Sistema Toronto and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra have announced a new partnership designed to add another dimension to the music education offered to students via Sistema during the 2023/24 school year.

Shawn Earle, CEO of Sistema Toronto comments on the collaboration, “We are thrilled to embark on this exciting journey alongside the TSO. As we combine our commitment to transforming the lives of our students with the TSO’s world-class musicianship and dedication to young learners, we look forward to fostering a lifelong passion for music in our exceptional students.”

The New Partnership

The new partnership will give Sistema students the opportunity to participate in a series of workshops delivered by the TSO musicians. Students will also get to attend the TSO’s performances.

The partnership is already in practice. Last November, Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador at the TSO, visited two of the Sistema centres. He delivered a lesson about music, the composer Joseph de Bologne, and offered a few pointers on conducting.

In May 2024, Sistema students will get the chance to see the TSO’s show Saint Georges’ Sword & Bow and Bhangra and Beyond. Another workshop will see students use Ian Cusson’s music to learn about Marilyn Dumont’s poetry. Dumont is a Canadian poet and educator of Cree / Métis heritage. Another event will take them behind the scenes at the TSO, as well as attending a performance of RESPECT: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin. They’ll learn about Franklin’s music and civil rights activism along the way.

“Music has the power to transform communities, and igniting a sustained love of music in young people — especially those who might not otherwise see themselves represented in orchestral music — is one way that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra seeks to serve our great community,” says Mark Williams, Beck Family CEO. “The TSO is proud to partner with Sistema Toronto to ensure that all students have the opportunity to bring their full, genuine selves to the orchestra, and to see themselves in the future of this art form.”

Sistema Toronto

Sistema Toronto is a charity devoted to providing music education to kids in underserved areas of the city. It’s part of a worldwide network of organizations, first founded in Venezuela in 1970 by Antonio Abreu.

According to their website, the organization serves 300 students in four priority neighbourhoods. They each receive 10 hours of instruction per week for 37 weeks. There are no auditions, and no barriers to participation.

The after school program is available free of charge, and provides social development as it offers music education in an ensemble setting.

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