The pitfalls and joys of taking a stand with music and with youngsters – Los Angeles Times

From Friday through Sunday, the Los Angeles Philharmonic hosted its fifth cleverly named Take a Stand symposium, a gathering of more than 300 educators around the country who are involved with music training programs, such as YOLA (Youth Orchestra L.A.) and patterned after Venezuela’s El Sistema.

There were essential sessions on strategizing, effective teaching methods for kids from different (and often underprivileged) backgrounds, the latest research on these programs’ effectiveness, discussions of technical matters, the global perspective and basically how to find every which way out of the classical music box.

All this is business as usual. And business for this program, which is also administered by the Longy School of Music and Bard College, has been good.

This season’s symposium concluded with a National Take a Stand Festival, in which 101 musicians, ages 12 to 17, from dozens of U.S. programs, were selected to form an orchestra. The L.A. Phils’ Venezuela-born music director, Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema’s most famous representative, is largely responsible for the program’s international influence. He and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra’s principal conductor, Thomas Wilkins, helped train the ensemble and they took turns conducting it in a special performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday night.


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