The City of London might lay claim to being a place of special significance for the el Sistema international movement. After the Proms performance in 2007, the SBYO returned for an acclaimed residency at Southbank Centre in 2009, which was followed by a Fesnojiv string quartet residency earlier this fall. Southbank Centre again will be the final stop for the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra on their first international tour in mid-October of this year, when they’ll present two performances and host an open rehearsal.
The frequency with which “Southbank Centre” is mentioned is no coincidence. The head of music there, Marshall Marcus, has an astonishingly long history with the movement, starting from the year that Fesnojiv as an entity was founded. Marshall was concertmaster of a Venezuelan orchestra at the time, met Maestro Abreu and maintained the relationship over the decades. That connection has culminated in four residencies (the Brass ensemble will be there in early 2011) over the span of just 2 years.
Marshall is more than a prescient impresario: he’s actively creating opportunities to advance the movement. He was a supporting partner for In Harmony Lambeth‘s ultimately successful bid to become a test site for el Sistema in England, and as part of the TC residency he has also organized a symposium on the day of the final performance to discuss specifically how el Sistema is growing worldwide. And to represent the North American angle he’s flying in…
I’m as stunned as the next person, seeing that I’ll be a keynote speaker on a panel with:
Julian Lloyd Weber – Chairman of In Harmony (England)
Nicola Killean – CEO Big Noise (Sistema Scotland)
Shirley Apthorp – Director of Cape Festival (South Africa)
and (last only for dramatic purposes, first for interest and importance) Maestro José Antonio Abreu himself . If you’re in Britain, please join us. I imagine with that panel the conversation will be fascinating and fruitful, and any opportunity to hear Maestro speak should not be missed.