Unlock The Song In Every Heart

'What is the purpose of the Community of Aidan and Hilda on this earth?' we asked members. 'To unlock the song in every human heart' was one reply.

:In the later 1970's the Venezuelan composer Jose Antonio Abreu started rehearsing with eleven slum kids in a garage. Thirty years later the youth orchestra El Sistema was the flagship of one of the most extraordinary social experiments ever. The young musicians were not just talented: many were brought up in the violent barrios of Caracas, where free lessons in classical music turned them from potential gang recruits into virtuosos. Abrou headed a nationwide programme involving 250,000 deprived children and more than two hundred local orchestras.

Sexual longing and aggression are the emotions that always and everywhere inform the music of the youth, both at its magical best and its mindless worst. What Jose Abreu realised is that this is not enough: that what easily enthrals, easily infantilises. It wasn't just the challenge of learning an instrument and the pride of belonging to a skilful group that redeemed the children of the slums. It was exposure to a range of emotions way beyond the limited horizons of adolescence. It was a chance to grow up.

Extracted from Jeremy O'Grady The Week 1 September 2007

Posted at 09:20am on 24th September 2007
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