North Park Participating in Music for Peace Festival

Post a Comment » Written on May 4th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (May 4, 2009) – North Park University will co-sponsor a week-long festival that will draw international musicians for a series of workshops and concerts to promote music as a tool for improving the lives of underserved youth.

Activities will be held around the city as part of the Music for Peace Festival May 11-16. Musicians – who will serve as resident artists – include members of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas as well as the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, the apex of Venezuela’s world-renowned El Sistema program. All events are free.

“This festival is going to be something very unique and new to Chicago and even the United States,” says Deborah Dos Santos (accompanying photo), the event’s artistic director who also is a student at North Park.

Dos SantosThe resident artists will conduct workshops at North Park to instruct teachers from across the city on how to use the El Sistema (The System) method. News outlets around the world have featured El Sistema for its ability to improve the lives of impoverished children through the creation of youth orchestras. More than 250,000 children and teenagers take part every year.

The festival is an initiative of the YOURS Project, a youth orchestra for underprivileged children, which is the first and only El Sistema “Nucleo” in Chicago. Currently 43 students from Hibbard Elementary School, located just south of the North Park campus, participate in the program. More than 95 percent of the students at the school are from families living below the poverty line.

Dos Santos initiated the project. For an article on Dos Santos and her rise from poverty to become one of the best violinists of her generation from Brazil, click here.

The YOURS Project operates under the umbrella of The People’s Music School, a free community music school located in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago.

The faculty includes a number of world-class professional musicians, including Richard Young from the Vermeer Quartet, and the trumpet player Tage Larsen from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The artistic advisors include Alex Klein, former first oboe of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Ann Murray, executive director of the International Music Foundation, and Rita Simo, founder of The People’s Music School.

Other North Park students who serve as instructors for the YOURS project include Bruno vas da Silva, Ulrika Swanson, and Sarah Gomes.

Faculty members will participate in some of the festival concerts. For a complete list of events, click here.

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