Thursday, May 17, 2012

EL SISTEMA

I’m moving to Los Angeles…tomorrow! I am very humbled to be taking on the role of Manager, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. Please read the press release below for details: Abreu Fellow Daniel Berkowitz to Manage Youth Orchestra Los Angeles New England Conservatory and El Sistema USA are pleased to announce that a member of the inaugural class of Abreu Fellows, Daniel Berkowitz, has been offered an important leadership opportunity within the El Sistema movement in the United States. In early January 2010, Berkowitz will become the Manager of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, known familiarly as YOLA. An initiative of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and supported by a network of stakeholders, YOLA seeks to provide exceptional instrumental and orchestral education to promote youth development. Central to the plan is the goal of building youth orchestras in underserved communities throughout Los Angeles. YOLA was inspired by El Sistema, the Venezuelan music education system that nurtured the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s new Music Director, Gustavo Dudamel. Months of intensive training in the Abreu Fellows program at NEC have enhanced Berkowitz’s qualifications for his new position. As the Manager of YOLA, he will be responsible for implementing youth orchestra plans, developing and supporting the YOLA stakeholder network, and connecting YOLA to other education and community programs of the Philharmonic. With strong ties to New England Conservatory and the inaugural class of Abreu Fellows, Berkowitz is now in a unique position to further enhance the relationship between the local Los Angeles program and the national El Sistema USA organization. From LA, Berkowitz will remain in close contact with the Fellows and will serve as a resource for current and future Fellows by providing an “on the ground” perspective and by opening doors to internships and potential employment. He will also continue his involvement in El Sistema USA projects as needed. “In the early stages of any program, one must seize opportunity and, in the words of El Sistema founder Maestro Abreu, trust the young, and give them the mandate to lead,’” said Mark Churchill, Director of El Sistema USA and Dean/Artistic Director of Preparatory and Continuing Education at NEC. “El Sistema USA is no exception. We at NEC fully support Daniel’s decision to accept this position and look forward to working in close partnership with him as we spearhead the El Sistema movement in the United States.” A trombonist, Berkowitz, received his bachelor degrees in both music and economics from Northwestern University, where his studio teachers were Michael Mulcahy, Randall Hawes and Charles Vernon. He has performed across Europe, Asia, and the U.S., including a residency in China with the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra. As an instructor, Berkowitz held masterclasses in China, and served on the staff of the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts and Northwestern’s National High School Music Institute. From 2008 to 2009, he lived and worked in London, studying with many of Europe’s most well-respected trombonists. In parallel, Berkowitz worked as an entrepreneur developing the infrastructure for Morningstar’s Pan European and Asian Fund research endeavor. For further information, check the NEC Website here. or call the NEC Concert Line at 617-585-1122. NEC’s Jordan Hall, Brown Hall, Williams Hall and the Keller Room are located at 30 Gainsborough St., corner of Huntington Ave. St. Botolph Hall is located at 241 St. Botolph St. between Gainsborough and Mass Ave. ### It’s Happening Published November 15, 2009 General Leave a Comment On Thursday evening, Marin Alsop, Musical Director for the Baltimore Symphony shared her vision for OrchKids with the Abreu Fellows: to serve all 82,000 children in Baltimore’s public school system. Bold? Sure. Possible? Absolutely. The Abreu Fellows spent the last week working in Balitmore’s El Sistema inspired OrchKids program (click here for some photos). During our tour of West Baltimore, our driver painted a bleak picture: boarded houses, abandoned cars, crippling. ‘A program like this is exactly what this community needs.’ And what did it look like? From principal to teachers to janitors, the staff members were engaged. First graders singing mixed meters, Kindergarteners repeating rhythms on their buckets, and most impressively, a 45 minute side-by-side concert, constructed in just 3 days…complete with elements of composition and improvisation. The participants were articulate, maintained good rhythm, smiled constantly and loved interacting with each other musically and socially. Here are some clips from the Kindergarten Bucket Band as they explore rhythm, dynamics and ensemble discipline: We left the week feeling refreshed, encouraged, and excited to continue working. Our experience reaffirmed the notion that every child has an opportunity to become musically literate. The OrchKids program aims to get participation from children as early as possible and has some extremely talented faculty in place to support this idea. After all that has been accomplished in one year, imagine what this could look like after 10, 20 or even 30 years…maybe Ms. Marin isn’t too far off. And why should a child participate? Patrick had the perfect answer: “Fun.” Maestro Abreu would be proud. We Want Change, Too Published November 1, 2009 General 3 Comments Last week, Ben Cameron, Program Director for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, presented an impassioned State of the Union for the Arts. It wasn’t a pretty picture: Two Chronic Issues Surrounding Arts Organizations: Under-capitalization. Organizations should maintain enough liquidity, operating reserves and artistic initiative reserves to keep their audiences engaged while growing organically. Instead, many organizations purchase fixed assets (real estate and other permanent equipment) during times when it is financially irrational. Under-compensation. The current non-profit model is predicated on discounted labor. Superstars build empires and non-profits cannot easily attract that talent. Among the current issues were: audience erosion, impending generational transition of leadership (75% of CEOs would leave non-profit jobs by 2012), the impact of technology with a society craving “culture on demand,” pricing out key audiences, artist unemployment rising twice as fast as regular figures (200,000+ jobs and hundreds of organizations lost by end of 2009), and a decline of individual donations (which are about 83% of contributed revenue!). Yes Mr. President, we want change, too. And what do we know about change? Here’s a little exercise from Target’s New Employee Training: Find a partner and look at your partner deeply for 60 seconds. Turn your back to your partner and change 5 things about your appearance. Identify your partner’s 5 changes. Turn away and change 10 more, then 20 more. What did we notice? Change provokes anxiety. Change increases at an exponential rate. We must maintain clarity in vision or we could lose control. Change translates as loss. Most people view change as something they have to give up. People revert to competition, not cooperation. People focus on resources they can control. When the pressure to change has been removed, people revert to old behavior even though they’re less comfortable. To change the perception of the arts and create viable enterprises, we must innovate. We must find new pathways to mission fulfillment, discontinuous from previous practice, springing from changes in underlying organizational assumptions. We must create value in anticipation of future demand. We must learn to skate like Wayne Gretzky (“to where puck is going to be, not where it has been”). Arts organizations must understand that ‘non-profit’ is a tax structure, not a business strategy. Each organization should be able to answer fundamental value-based questions: why must we exist today? What is the value of my arts organization to my community? What is the value of my organization alone brings or brings better than anyone else? And more specifically…how will my community be damaged if it were deprived of music tomorrow? How does my organization be optimally structured/behaved to become my community’s conduit of symphony music? Second-rate value will not stand. We are in the midst of a shift in cultural tastes. Value is no longer consumed; it is co-created (think of the experience of going to Starbucks). It is time to rethink how we view arts and culture. We must shift our focus from short-term survival to long-term transformation. If we can maintain clarity in our vision, this recession might just turn into a renaissance.

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