The experience of a lifetime: Encounters/Encuentros
Six OrKidstra students have just returned from the experience of a lifetime: Encounters/Encuentros: Music Unites the Continents in Mexico City, March 1 – 4, 2018!
OrKidstra experienced this extraordinary program, Encounters/Encuentros: Music Unites the Continents in Mexico City, March 1-4, 2018, thanks to the generosity of The Gustavo Dudamel Foundation, which fully funded the music and citizenship intensive for all attendees and provided full scholarships for our students.
We (OrKidstra students Jennifer, Nancy, Peter, Evelyn, Rinila and OrKidstra graduate Kafele, accompanied by Executive & Artistic Director Tina Fedeski, M.S.M. and OrKidstra Program & Events Coordinator Katherine Neale) spent four days in rehearsal with more than 150 young musicians from 23 Sistema-inspired programs in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Argentina. The intensive culminated in a concert at the stunning Palacio de Bellas Artes under the direction of world-renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel and celebrated composer and conductor Arturo Márquez.
Each day consisted of more than seven energetic and intense hours of sectionals and full-orchestra rehearsals, led by inspiring Teaching Artists from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and many international clinicians and soloists. It was exhilarating to learn so much music so quickly; our students grew enormously – in both musicianship and citizenship – from the challenge!
Maestro Gustavo Dudamel reunited with the legendary Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on this eleven-concert tour across the Americas, which included Encounters/Encuentros: Music Unites the Continents. Gustavo Dudamel says that this four-day intensive Art and Citizenship workshop for young musicians from under-served areas underlined the belief that music has the power to unite and inspire. “We are all part of the ‘New World,’” he said. “With all the sense of youth, hope, diversity, and courage that term has represented for generations.”
Meals were a favourite time of day for us, with delicious food and the opportunity to visit with all the new friends we were making including program leaders and participants from the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), Sistema Nacional de Fomento Musical (Mexico) and Puerto Rico. The room was full of cheerful conversation and laughter in a mixture of Spanish and English as the participants shared stories about themselves, their countries, and their fellow Sistema-inspired organizations. We all enjoyed practicing our Spanish, whether we already knew how to speak, or were learning the language for the first time!
Before going to the Palacio de Bellas Artes on Sunday morning, we had a chance for an impromptu photoshoot with the other participants, with promises to stay in touch once everyone headed home. The concert venue is an impressive Mexico City landmark, filled with beautiful stained glass and artwork by famous Mexican artists. With pieces conducted by Maestros Arturo Márquez and Gustavo Dudamel, the concert was magical; the orchestra’s enthusiasm was contagious.
The entire concert hall was filled with energy throughout the performances of “Alas (a Malala)” composed and conducted by Arturo Márquez (inspired by Nobel Laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai), “Adagio for Strings” from Star Wars: The Force Awakens by John Williams (not featured in the video), Movement Four of Symphony No. 9, “New World Symphony” by Antonín Dvořák and an encore of “Congo del Fuego Nuevo” by Arturo Márquez conducted by Maestro Gustavo Dudamel.
After heartfelt goodbyes at the end of our concert, it was time to explore more of Mexico City! We attended a concert with Maestro Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Vienna Philharmonic at the Auditorio Nacional, a huge 10,000 seat concert hall in the middle of the big urban forest near our hotel. We had an entire day to explore the Centro Historico of Mexico City, where we saw an outdoor Dali art exhibit, several traditional Mexican markets, and stunning architecture in every direction. Much to our students’ delight, we stumbled onto a park square with salsa dancing, where the locals took our hands and taught us to dance – we felt so welcomed! It was the perfect way to end such a memorable and life-changing adventure.
Sixteen-year-old OrKidstra student Jennifer says: “It was the biggest honour to go to Mexico to play with extremely talented young musicians from all over the world at Encounters. I could not be any more thankful for this unbelievable opportunity and for all the friendships I’ve made. Definitely the best week of my life! Muchas gracias Maestro Dudamel!”
OrKidstra is deeply grateful to The Gustavo Dudamel Foundation for funding this opportunity. Our sincere thanks as well to OrKidstra’s generous supporters who continue to help kids from under-served areas of Ottawa find their voice and reach their potential through music!
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more reflections from the students involved in this life-changing opportunity!