The Leading Note Foundation Hosts Symposium on Social Harmony Through Music Education
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On March 31st, 2012, The Leading Note Foundation, in collaboration with the Ottawa Chamber Music Society (OCMS), hosted a one-day symposium to explore the impact of music education on the social and intellectual development of children and young people. The symposium was moderated by CBC Radio One broadcaster Laurence Wall.
This page contains a high-level description of the symposium. For more details on any part of the symposium or related events, view the sub-menu items at left. A summary of the most relevant ideas that came out of the symposium can be found under Symposium Highlights.
The symposium drew more than 80 participants – musicians and music teachers, social policy makers, politicians, schoolteachers, school board officials, entrepreneurs and community leaders – whose interest and passion for music as an agent for social change infused the day with lively discussion and interaction.
Social Harmony Through Music Education featured a number of international and local speakers. British educator Richard Hallam, MBE, described the ten-year process of setting up England’s National Plan for Music Education and criteria for its success.Jonathan Govias from Boston outlined varying approaches to music education, as well as his reasons for considering out-of-school music education more effective than in-school programs. Tina Fedeski and Margaret Tobolowska shared the challenges they faced in establishing and expanding OrKidstra, their Ottawa-based music program for inner-city kids inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema program.
Film producer Noemi Weis screened her film Teaching the Life of Music which examines the El Sistema phenomenon and documents the impact of this philosophy and practice on the children of Ottawa’s OrKidstra program.
A panel of senior school board officials, a school music educator and Ottawa-Centre’s MPP discussed with moderator Richard Hallam the benefits of music education and its status in Ontario schools. Panel and participants discussed steps to increase the presence of music education in Ottawa and throughout Ontario.
The Symposium closed with a concert performed by the Simón Bolívar String Quartet and OrKidstra’s KidPlayers and KidSingers. A highlight was the premiere of Nicholas Piper’s new work “Thaw” which drew a seamless performance from beginners and experts alike, and a sustained standing ovation from an ecstatic audience.
The Symposium complemented the Ottawa residency of Venezuela’s Simón Bolívar String Quartet, whose members have emerged from the world famous El Sistema youth music initiative in Venezuela. Activities began on Friday, March 30th with master classes at the University of Ottawa, presentations by three music students about the benefits of mentoring with Ottawa’s OrKidstra program, and a stimulating round table discussion on linking El Sistema programs with universities and the community at large.
Two days before the symposium, Carleton University conferred an honorary degree on Dr. José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema. At the ceremony, Tina Fedeski, Executive Director and Co-Founder of OrKidstra, paid tribute to Maestro Abreu, and the OrKidstra Quintet and Simón Bolívar String Quartet delighted the audience with a joint performance.