Last updated: 30 april, 2009 - 18:32 GMT

The Americas

El Sistema Goes Global

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Described as one of the most extraordinary social experiments in the world, El Sistema was set up more than 30 years ago to help the 3 in 4 Venezuelan children who live in abject poverty.

El Sistema offers 6-days-a-week orchestral training to children and adolescents, providing them with focus, discipline and a safe environment away from a street culture of drugs and violence.

Not only has it transformed the lives of many people, it has redefined how Classical music can be taught and what its role in society can be.

Renowned conductor Sir Simon Rattle says "It's the most important thing happening in the world of Classical Music today".

In El Sistema Goes Global, Juan Carlos Jaramillo looks at two Western endeavours closely modelled on the Venezuelan original: Big Noise in Stirling, Scotland and New York's Harmony Program.

How far can El Sistema be adapted to suit a completely new environment without sacrificing its ethos and can it live up to the expectations?



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