the power of music to redeem young lives Film Night: El Sistema - Sunday 25th July

Tony Gosling tony at
Tue Jul 20 23:01:00 BST 2010

Film Night: El Sistema
Sunday 25th July, 7.30pm

El Sistema is the Venezuelan project that for 35 
years has been proving the power of music to 
redeem young lives.  The 2009 documentary, to be 
screened at the Pierian Centre on Sunday 25th 
July, shows how it has rescued hundreds of 
thousands of young people from poverty, drugs and crime.

El Sistema is a network of orchestras and 
workshops which is currently teaching more than 
250,000 young people to play an instrument – 90% 
of them from poor backgrounds.  The approach 
seems simple – but the results are profound.  In 
2007 the Inter-American Development Bank studied 
the 2 million people who had trained with El 
Sistema, and concluded that the decline in school 
truancy and delinquency meant that every $1 
invested was producing $1.68 in social 
dividends.  As a result the Bank granted El 
Sistema a loan of $150 million to build seven more centres.

The vision behind El Sistema is both ambitiously 
utopian and endearingly practical.  To its 
founder, José Antonio Abreu, an orchestra is a 
model of the ideal society.  By becoming members 
of it, children learn lessons of sociability and 
self-confidence that help them become active 
citizens in wider society.  Using delight and 
discipline, the system unlocks individual 
expressiveness and the ability to work creatively with others.


El Sistema’s fame has begun to spread beyond the 
borders of Venezuela.  The rise to stardom of 
graduates like Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon 
Bolivar Youth Orchestra has brought its ideas to 
a wider audience.  Hugo Chavez’s regime has 
backed it enthusiastically, but every Venezuelan 
government has seen its value and supported 
it.  A similar project has now been launched in 
Scotland – and we will hear on Sunday of Fidelis 
Mherembi’s plans for schools in Zimbabwe.

Paul Smaczny & Maria Stodtmeier’s documentary El 
Sistema was hailed as “riveting” by the BBC Music 
Magazine when it was released in 2009.  The Star 
wrote that “This is one of the most inspirational 
documentaries on music or social change you are 
ever likely to see!”  We hope to be joined on 
Sunday by Chloe Goodchild of The Naked Voice to 
share chant and song inspired by El Sistema.

Our screening is by kind permission of 
EuroArts.  It takes place at the Pierian Centre, 
27 Portland Square, St Pauls, Bristol BS2 
8SA.  The Bar opens at 7pm – and the screening 
starts at 7.30pm.  Tickets cost £5 – with special 
rates for Friends of the Pierian Centre and 
concessions.  Booking is essential on 0117 924 4512 or info at

Nick Thomas

The Pierian Centre

Tel: 0117 924 4512


Film Night: El Sistema
Sunday 25th July, 7.30pm
Inspiring documentary on music and social change!
For full details: 

Registered Address:27 Portland Square, St Paul's, Bristol BS2 8SA
Tel: 0117 924 4512 Fax: 0117 9421178
email: info at Website:
Company Number 6275797
VAT Registration Number 978 4204 86

Social Enterprise - A Mark of assurance, of right thinking and

A Mark of assurance, of right thinking and bright thinking
The Pierian Centre was awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in October 2008

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