Last Saturday, the music world received notice that Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of the El Sistema music model, passed away at age 78.  Forty-three years ago, this Venezuelan government economist began a socially inclusive musical education program for some of the poorest children in his country.  The El Sistema program has been replicated in countries around the world and is the model upon which the SONG program is based. 

A month earlier, in February, we received a notice from El Sistema in Venezuela that they had just accepted their 900,000th student into the program since the program’s inception in 1975.  Valentina Carrero, a nine year old Venezuelan girl, has now been learning music for a month, along with hundreds of thousands of children around the world thanks to Maestro Abreu’s vision. 

The letter from Sistema Venezuela concluded with these words, “Without a doubt, there still are many children like Valentina that need to access musical education, no matter their social background, race, religion or disability.  Which is why we still are very committed to continue expanding our musical miracle beyond borders, by emphasizing one of our main principles:  social inclusion.” 

The SONG program of Northumberland is also building its own legacy.  Five years in, we have seen about 250 children enter the program.  They have sung with passion, played bucket drums with zeal, and learned stringed instruments with growing confidence.  Our local legacy joins with that of Maestro Abreu as we touch lives through the transformative power of music. 

Help us celebrate five years of SONG on Saturday, May 26th at Trinity United Church in Cobourg (3:00pm) for our concert entitled, “Kids 4 Kids”. 

          Written by Derrick Cunningham , SONG Administrative Assistant