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L.A. Phil gears up for El Sistema-inspired symposium

November 9, 2011 |  5:00 pm

Gustavo Dudamel

While other U.S. symphony orchestras are struggling to stay solvent, the Los Angeles Philharmonic keeps adding activities to its already bulging datebook.

Last month, the Phil announced that it's partnering with Bard College in upstate New York and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass., to launch a joint musical education initiative that will aim to further youth music education across the country, particularly in America's most underserved communities.

One of the initiative's key components will be a yearly symposium, "Take a Stand," that will bring arts professionals, musicians and educators together to hear speakers, take part in workshops and interact with students. The inaugural conference will be held Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Los Angeles, coinciding with the L.A. Phil's Mahler Project, at which Dudamel, the Phil and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela will perform together in concert.

This week, the Phil announced that single-day passes for each day of the symposium will cost $100 and full three-day passes will go for $250. The Phil says the symposium "will focus on driving forward the collective thinking of the El Sistema movement."

El Sistema, of course, is the astonishingly successful Venezuelan national music education program, one of whose star graduates is Gustavo Dudamel, the Phil's music director and principal conductor. The Phil has embraced El Sistema's pedagogic principles with missionary fervor, so the location of the symposium seems appropriate: All conference activities will be held at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles, the Phil says, unless otherwise announced.


Venezuela is notable for its teamwork

Reporter's Notebook: L.A.'s YOLA takes up challenge of El Sistema model

 L.A. Phil announces a joint musical education initiative

— Reed Johnson

Photo: Gustavo Dudamel directs the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra (YOLA) at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.