Our Shared History

From Caracas to Denver


El Sistema began in Caracas Venezuela in 1975, through the vision of Dr. José Antonio Abreu. He dreamed big, planning to provide quality music education to all children in Venezuela, no matter their background. Dr. Abreu believed, as we do today, that making music in an ensemble builds critical life skills and the groundwork for success. 

At his first rehearsal, Dr. Abreu expected to have one hundred students. In reality, only eleven students showed up. Dr. Abreu could have been disheartened and stopped there. Instead, he continued forward—knowing that with time and heart El Sistema would grow. He believed his students would attain musical excellence, but through practice and the structure of the ensemble they would also develop collaborative skills and an ethical framework for life.

Beginning with one man’s vision and just eleven students, a global movement was born. El Sistema in Venezuela, now known as Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar, has 31 symphony orchestras, and more than 300,000 children attend their music schools.

Outside of Venezuela, there are El Sistema inspired programs throughout the world—including El Sistema Colorado. Here we aim to provide children of marginalized communities the same access to high-quality music education as their more privileged peers. We celebrate Dr. Abreu’s vision that music education can improve the life trajectory of children in poverty. At El Sistema Colorado we are committed to cultivating the whole child. We know instrumental and choral ensembles build students’ musical, social, and cognitive skills. We also believe by cultivating support for the whole family and greater community, we positively impact our young musicians’ growing self-confidence, social-emotional development, and leadership skills. 

You can help support our mission to empower children by providing a music program that teaches the importance of teamwork, promotes self-confidence, and instills the value of social responsibility. 

Consider becoming a monthly donor, whether the monthly contribution is big or small, we deeply appreciate the consistent support that helps our students achieve success.