News & Events

Bruce Randolph Students Observe Holocaust Remembrance Day

On Wednesday, April 11th our Bruce Randolph Vocal Ensemble had the honor of joining the Colorado Hebrew Chorale and members of the Denver community in observance Holocaust Remembrance Day at Temple Sinai. None of our students had ever been in a synagogue, and many of them had never met anyone Jewish, either. The Chorale and community were so very welcoming; offering our students a tour of the synagogue before sharing dinner together.

Our students sang three pieces alongside the Colorado Hebrew Chorale and both ensembles sang different arrangements of “Birdsong,” a poem originally written by a young person in the Terezin Concentration Camp.

It was a powerful evening of song and personal stories from Holocaust survivors. Our kids were so polite, respectful, friendly, and open to this new experience. They sang with such confidence and compassion — we couldn’t have been more proud of them.

Anonymous, 1941
Czech, translated by Jeanne Nĕmcová

He doesn’t know the world at all
Who stays in his nest and doesn’t go out.
He doesn’t know what birds know best
Nor what I want to sing about,
That the world is full of loveliness.

When dewdrops sparkle in the grass
And earth’s aflood with morning light,
A blackbird sings upon a bush
To greet the dawning after night.
Then I know how fine it is to live.

Hey, try to open up your heart
To beauty; go to the woods someday
And weave a wreath of memory there.
Then if the tears obscure your way
You’ll know how wonderful it is
To be alive.

Ambassadors Perform on Saturday, April 14th

Are you ready for some fútbol?
The Denver Philharmonic Orchestra’s upcoming concert ¡GOOOOAL!, with Mexico City-based conductor José Luis Castillo, will transport you through song to Mexico, Spain, Buenos Aires, and Argentina!

Our Ambassadors are excited to be performing preconcert from 6:45-7:15pm and will be opening the second half of the program.

Antonia Brico Stage at Central Presbyterian Church (1660 Sherman St.)
Purchase your ticket here!
*Doors open at 6:15pm, Ambassadors perform at 6:45pm, and full program begins at 7:30pm!

El Sistema Colorado actively seeks performance and engagement opportunities in an effort to build connections, networks, and experiences for our students. With their vibrant community and commitment to education, the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra is a natural fit! We are thrilled to have this opportunity to partner with them once again. Hope to see you there!

Remembering José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema

In memoriam: José Antonio Abreu

May 7, 1939 – March 24, 2018

by Tricia Tunstall, Executive Editor of The World Ensemble. Tunstall is also the co-author, with Eric Booth, of Playing For Their Lives: The Global El Sistema Movement For Social Change Through Music (W.W. Norton, September 2016) and the author of Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema

We at The World Ensemble share the deep sadness of so many thousands at the death of Maestro Abreu, whose brilliant vision, boundless energy and bright spirit made him a singular source of hope and light in our often-dark world. For us, as for many of our readers, the example of his life and work has inspired some of our own most important life choices.

Maestro Abreu was a pivotal agent of social and artistic reform in Venezuela and throughout the world. He was the first global leader to powerfully fuse the realms of arts education, child poverty, and social change. Along with all of that—and just as important, he would have said—he was a teacher. We once asked Gustavo Dudamel about what it was like to study with Maestro Abreu. “All the time he is teaching you music, he is also teaching you social values,” he answered. “It is always about music. And it is also always about love.”

Maestro Abreu leaves an astonishing legacy—a network of programs, not only in Venezuela but also around the world, that serve close to a million children. We who lead, teach in, and support those programs have the good fortune not only to carry on that legacy but also to explore, refine, expand and enrich it.

Fortunately, the Maestro was profoundly quotable, so we’ll always have his words to inspire us.

“Poverty is not just the lack of a roof or bread. It is also a spiritual lack – a loneliness and lack of recognition. The vicious cycle of poverty can be broken when a child poor in material possessions acquires spiritual wealth through music.”

“No hay nada más sublime en la vida que dar, y cuanto más das, más recibes, y esa es la felicidad que uno tiene, con la que cuenta, y es mucha. Ahí reside el auténtico sentido, todo el sentido.”

“Poverty generates anonymity…an orchestra means joy, motivation, teamwork, success. Music creates happiness and hope in a community.”

“I’m convinced that after death we continue to work no matter where we end up in: that in heaven there is work to do, that God’s house is not one of idleness, we work with him, we are associated with him him.”

“To sing and to play together means to intimately coexist. Music is immensely important in the awakening of sensibility and in the forging of values.”

Let’s honor the Maestro’s memory by widening and deepening our connections with each other. It is always about music, and it is also always about love.