There is an increasing number of blogs and forums devoted to El Sistema, but while they play an important role in raising awareness of the program, they are predominantly spaces of advocacy rather than critical reflection. This blog is intended to promote deeper understanding of El Sistema and more debate about a number of questions that the program raises.
Complete index of posts: (most recent first)
2017: a myth-busting year in review
Abreu’s phantom PhD
Enchantment and disenchantment
Does Sistema work? Does it matter? Reflections on the Longy/WolfBrown evaluation
Writing El Sistema’s history
Taking a stand for what?
Sistema’s rose-tinted glasses
A hotbed of political resistance?
El Sistema rising up?
Big Noise in Raploch?
What’s wrong with sending child musicians to play for the FARC?
“Authoritarianism and talent flight: cracks in the System of Orchestras”
The IDB reports on El Sistema
Too little, too late: Venezuelans respond to Gustavo Dudamel
The Philanthropic Ogre
From Vienna to Caracas
Fake news? El Sistema and the IDB launch their study
Dudamel and the Bolívars: Media responses and silences
Tricia Tunstall’s Alternative Facts
José Antonio Abreu: musician, philanthropist, ogre, caudillo
Professionalization or rescuing the poor? The origins of El Sistema (in Abreu’s own words)
What is the role of music in the age of Trump and Maduro?
“In El Sistema there are no poor people”: follow-up to the IDB study
IDB study sheds doubt on El Sistema’s claims of social inclusion and transformation (full version)
IDB study sheds doubt on El Sistema’s claims of social inclusion and transformation (short version)
New Year, Old Problems: Rolex Man in Vienna
“The Venezuelan musical miracle needs a miracle”
Building for an uncertain future
Trumpism and music education
The tightening of the screw
Playing for their Lives: Sins of mission and omission
The cult in the spotlight
Is the party over?
“It’s all true.” So what now?
Reflections on ISME 2016 (Part 2): The evolving research on El Sistema
Reflections on ISME 2016 (Part 1)
Before you turn the page: Connecting the parallel worlds of Sistema and critical scholarship
The Simón Bolívar orchestra hits a bum note; and a neuroscientist is led astray
The AHRC Report and In Harmony Sistema England
Is Sistema a “movement”?
“The music book of our times”
Super Bowl Part 2 (or what would have been cool)
Who won the Super Bowl (halftime show)?
Felicity Laurence reviews “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth”
Is El Sistema a busted flush?
ACT special issue on El Sistema
Two Sistema articles in VAN Magazine
When is it a good thing to be plagiarised?
Stop press! A story about the real Sistema in The Times
El Sistema: the future of classical music?
Hand in Glove: El Sistema and Neoliberal Research
Music or Social Action?
El Sistema, politics, and citizenship (again…)
Scripp, Mazzocchi, and an insider’s view of El Sistema
ESOVY’s first birthday: some reflections
Exploring the shallows: Nicholas Kenyon on “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth”
A review and a couple of omissions
Baker and Sistema Fellows Agree. Whatever Next?
Interview in Newsweek
Review or advocacy? Kathryn Jourdan on “El Sistema”
Gillian Howell reviews “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth”
CONAC: Toccata and Fugue
Musik als Blendwerk
El Sistema in the (social) media
On bullshit and El Sistema
Censorship and self-censorship in the Sistema sphere
Report on “El Sistema and the Alternatives” conference
Introduction to “El Sistema and the Alternatives” conference
A pact with the devil
Larry Scripp on “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth”
Keeping El Sistema out of politics?
El Sistema’s 500-year history
Review of “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth” by Anna Bull in LSE Review of Books
Registration now open for the conference “El Sistema and the Alternatives”
Interview with Geoff Baker by Sistema Global
Response to Jonathan Govias, “Sistema through the noise”
First academic review of “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth”
“Does elite music teaching leave pupils open to abuse?”
Zapata and Abreu
The SBSO’s European tour
New Guardian article
Inside the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra
Response to Carlos M. Añez
Response to Tunstall in Classical Music
Abreu, Chávez, and oil
Yearly roundup 2014
Response to New York Times and Tunstall reviews
Response to Jonathan Govias’s review
The Spectator, Music Matters, and LA Times
Weekly roundup, Sat 29 November
Response to Hewett review
Weekly roundup, Sat 22 November
Music education, discipline, and profit
An interview with Diego Matheuz
A critical miscellany
Journalism and research
Data, statistics, and anecdotes
How big is El Sistema?
Publishing “El Sistema”
Reflections on ISME 2014
Spot the difference
Taking a Stand?
Searching for complexity
A revolutionary project
A day out in Liverpool
Researching El Sistema (2)
Politics and El Sistema
Learning from the U.S?
Constructing El Sistema
Researching El Sistema
Scam, Voodoo, or The Future of Music? The El Sistema Debate