OrKidstra News: Symposium on Social Change through Music Education

March 26, 2012

OrKidstra, The Leading Note Foundation’s music program for inner-city children, will explore and demonstrate the positive impact on children of community music-making programs during a weekend of discussions and performances on March 30, 31 and April 1. The activities are presented in partnership with the Ottawa Chamber Music Society and are built around the Ottawa residency of Venezuela’s Simón Bolívar String Quartet, which emerged from the widely recognized El Sistema program on which OrKidstra is based. A highlight of the weekend will be the Symposium on Social Harmony Through Music Education, Saturday, March 31 beginning at 9:00 A.M. at Dominion-Chalmers United Church.

The event will feature three internationally recognized experts on music programs for social change. Keynote speaker Richard Hallam will speak about his experience developing the National Plan for Music Education for England. Mr. Hallam is globally recognized for his leadership in programs that use music to bring positive change to the lives of children and youth in some of the most deprived areas of England. The symposium also features Dantes Rameau, originally from Ottawa and now recognized as a visionary for his work with the Atlanta Music Project, a non-profit after-school youth orchestra and choir program serving low-income communities in Atlanta, Georgia. Jonathan Govias, a distinguished conductor, author and speaker based in Boston, will bring his passion for working with young orchestras and the transformative power of “social music” to the discussions.

Tina Fedeski, co-owner of The Leading Note, co-founder of OrKidstra and Executive Director of The Leading Note Foundation which administers the OrKidstra program, notes “The Simón Bolívar String Quartet is a great example of the success of Venezuela’s remarkable El Sistema program and of the power of community-based music programs. The Symposium will be an excellent opportunity to share expertise, inspire educators and hopefully lead to the enhancement of elementary school music programs.”  Tina and Margaret Tobolowska, fellow co-founder and Artistic Director of OrKidstra, will speak of the many successes, lessons and challenges that they have experienced with their Ottawa program.

Hosted by CBC Radio’s Laurence Wall, the symposium will include a panel of Ottawa music educators, politicians and school board representatives in a lively discussion on the possibilities and potential of social education music programs in Ottawa. There will also be a screening of the film “Teaching the Life of Music” by filmmaker Noemi Weis, which reflects experiences of some of the OrKidstra children, many of whom are refugees.

The day-long symposium will be capped with a short concert highlighted by the world premiere of Thaw by Ottawa composer Nicholas Piper, featuring dozens of OrKidstra members together with the Simón Bolívar String Quartet. OrKidstra musicians will be spread around the Dominion-Chalmers sanctuary with Quartet members on centre stage, all skilfully conducted by the composer. The performance will begin at 5:30 P.M. and is open to all interested members of the public as well as Symposium participants, at no charge.

The Symposium is free of charge and is open to the public. Participants can find the registration form on The Leading Note Foundation’s website, where the complete schedule for the weekend is also posted. Registration is required in advance, as space is limited.  Please spread the word about what will be an amazing and inspiring few days!

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