What is “El Sistema”?


“El Sistema” is the common name given the now global movement of social action through music, especially youth orchestras.

This movement started in Venezuela from the vision of Maestro José Antonio Abreu, founder of  the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela.  El Sistema’s goal is to fight poverty and promote community development and social change through music.  It provides education and opportunities to play in orchestras and choirs. It focuses on underserved communities and its children.

In 1975, Maestro Abreu gathered a group of 11 young musicians and gave them a simple message: with their instruments they would change the world. Some years later, groups of these Venezuelan musicians started traveling in music education missions throughout Venezuela, and later, in the 1980s and 1990s to Latin America. Their goal was to spread Venezuela's musical movement, which had already grown to over 200 youth orchestras in Venezuela alone, and grew to other Latin countries, such as Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Guatemala, Uruguay, Mexico, Peru and Brazil.

Today, El Sistema is grabbing people's attention across the United States, with over 100 programs all over the country. In New York City, the Corona Youth Music Project collaborates with other El Sistema-inspired programs such as the UpBeatNYC program in the South Bronx, Washington Heights-Inwood Music Project, in Manhattan and the Union City Music Project in New Jersey through out the year.