Orchestra Spotlight:
Baltimore Symphony's Dan Trahey and El Sistema

Postcards from Venezuela

My name is Dan Trahey. I am a Teaching Artist, Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s ORCHkids, Director of Tuned In at the Peabody Preparatory of the Johns Hopkins University, tuba player with the Archipelago Project, and a community music organizer.

I hope that these postcards will expose my readers to the wonders of El Sistema and help invigorate educators, musicians, administrators, parents, students, and community members through the belief that we can create social change through music. For more information on El Sistema, please visit elsistemausa.org.

June 26th Photos

Mighty Tubas Mighty Tubas! (Click to enlarge.)

This was a fabulous section to work with. My friend Alvaro to my left is Principal Tuba in the Guanare Symphony.

Barquisimetal (Click to enlarge.)

The composition Barquisimetal by José Arvelo. José is from Barquisimeto (the home of Gustavo Dudamel) and the Spanish word for brass is metales. We were approached with numerous compositions. This one was performed on the two final concerts. Composition is a very important part of El Sistema.

Video of a rehearsal of Danzon by Marquez, a Mexican composer.

Trumpet Section Trumpet Section (Click to enlarge.)

A great picture depicting the age range of the students. The older kids act as mentors both in music and life. In the better sections there is a feeling of being part of a large family.

young violinist Young violinist (Click to enlarge.)

This young man was always practicing, and our cameras couldn't stop taking pictures.

Jam Session Jam Session (Click to enlarge.)

This was one of many times when the children would play on a riff and break out into a full-blown jam session.

Eli Wirth with translator Eli Wirth with translator. (Click to enlarge.)

Eli Wirth (of Peabody Preparatory and Carroll Community College), getting a little inspiration from the Bernsteinesque towel around his neck, tries to comprehend an orchestral member's question with the help of our translator, Felicitas Sommers.

Archipelago Group concert Archipelago Group concert (Click to enlarge.)

Archipelago played a few different sets for the children over the course of the week. Often times the kids would join us for a few selections, or just stand up and solo with the band.

Media attention Media attention (Click to enlarge.)

There seemed to always be a reporter around. We did a daytime television show that reminded me of the Latin American version of Regis and Kelley.

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