Season's Greetings and Happy New Year!

At Christmas, all roads lead home: a holiday concert with an El Sistema-inspired orchestra in Mexico.

During this Holiday Season, I send you my best wishes for peace, joy, and prosperity in the New Year!

2011 has been an extraordinary year—a transformative time of learning and musical development; of new opportunities and beautiful memories.

It has been a privilege to be a part of the New England Conservatory family in Boston. As an Abreu Fellow,  I've begun a meaningful journey with colleagues and mentors that have inspired me to grow and to thrive anew. The fellowship, created in honor of Jose Antonio Abreu’s wish to identify  and train new artistic leaders: “gifted young musicians, passionate about their art and social justice,” seeks to address and enact upon the potential of music education as a catalyst for social transformation.

While re-imagining the role of classical music in society, we’ve shared inspired moments of music-making and academic inquiry. In the last few months, I had the opporturnity to collaborate with music students and teachers across the country and engaged in meaningful conversations with leaders at major cultural and artistic institutions. All these new and evolving perspectives have contributed to realize a better understanding of the emerging El Sistema movement in the United States and its potential for future development and growth.

Music has been at the forefront of it all. This year, I also had the opportunity to work with many different orchestras, including Mexico City's Orquesta Filarmonica de la UNAM and with young musicians at Community MusicWorks, the nationally recognized community-based organization that uses music education and performance as a vehicle to build community throughout urban neighborhoods in Providence. I prepared new orchestral repertoire (including programmatic works such as Debussy's La Mer and Revueltas' Redes), directed a successful children's education series in Sioux Falls, and learned from extraordinary musicians in a wide variety of settings. My passion for and understanding of music as an ever-evolving entity of meaning and pupose has grown stronger with each new experience. My musical family has also grown too, it is always a joy to meet people through music.

During early 2012, the Abreu Fellows will be presenting the findings from a survey of U.S. núcleos at the LA Philharmonic's Take a Stand Symposium. We will also be traveling extensively throughout Venezuela to explore the wonders of El Sistema and work alongside the visionary leaders and educators that have made this work possible. Upon returning from South America, I’ll help guide the development of a new El Sistema-inspired program and visit again in Philadelphia to work intensively with the Play-on Philly Orchestra, a group of young musicians with tremendous potential and artistic promise. It is exciting to play a part in contributing to the advancement of music education.

Above all, the most beautiful thing about this year has been the opportunity to meet and collaborate with so many talented and generous people—friends and mentors who have so kindly offered their advice, support, and dedication to my journey in music and in life.  For this, I am deeply grateful. 

With warmest thoughts and best wishes to all.

Gustavo Dudamel and the SBYOV in a performance of Arturo Marquez: Conga del Fuego

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