Monday 18 January 2016

Sistema in action - showcase at the South Bank Centre

Sistema in action - a capacity audience enjoys the South Bank Centre's showcase
Sistema in action - a capacity audience enjoys the South Bank Centre's showcase
To coincide with the appearance of Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra at the South Bank Centre on Saturday 16 January 2016, there was a showcase in the Clore Ballroom of orchestras from a number of El Sistema inspired projects around the UK. Performers included the Nucleo Project Chamber Group, Sistema England Young Leaders Orchestra, In Harmony Lambeth Holst Orchestra and Sistema London Orchestra so there were lot of young people being marshalled around the hall. But what was just as inspiring was the huge audience which the event attracted, and incredibly diverse group of people including of course parents and family giving us a glimpse of how El Sistema-inspired projects are as much social as musical in their importance.

We started with a chamber group from the Nucleo project (based in North Kensington), and a group of seven young people played the Badinerie from Bach's Suite No. 2. They were followed by the Sistema England Young Leaders Orchestra which is made up of 46 advanced players from four projects, In Harmony Lambeth, In Harmony Liverpool, Sistema in Norwich and the Nucleo Project. They were conducted by Félix Briceño from El Sistema in Venezuala and Juan Carlos Maggiorani from Orquestra Geração, a Sistema-inspired project in Portugal. The orchestra played a suite of John Williams music from Harry Potter, followed by a lively Portuguese piece which included a fine violin solo as well as much clapping, swaying and movement from the young players.

The last group I heard was In Harmony Lambeth's Holst Orchestra, made up of players who have between three and six years experience, who come together twice a week for rehearsals in Lambeth. The group's programme included Moondance and a lively version of Take Five.

The event had started late, marshalling so many young people is not without its problems and at one point there was a public address announcement listing the missing young people who were needed for the performance. When I left, the performances were in full swing, clearly being enjoyed by the large audience.

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