Thursday, May 22, 2008

Can we have a light bulb for Heaven?

From an article in the Telegraph:
"You know, Señor Abreu is regarded as almost a saint in Venezuela," says Bishop Holloway to me sotto voce as Abreu arrives. He seems somewhat in awe of Abreu and talks of his encounter with El Sistema as a life-changing experience.

"I've always had a concern for socially deprived children of Britain, and I've always been struck by the way we only spend huge amounts on children once they become problems. How can we do something that will bring a real generational change? Then I read about the Venezuelan experience and a light bulb lit up in my head.

"They'd found a way of releasing the energies of people, so they could do things for themselves, instead of having things done to them. So I went to see the project with some colleagues, and we were so uplifted that we knew we had to bring something similar to Scotland."

(Jose Abreu) was once an economist working in Venezuela's oil business. But he had also studied music, and in his mid-30s he decided it was time for a change of life.

"When I was studying music, I noticed Venezuela was so backward compared with other countries. Mexico and Argentina, for example, had excellent choirs and conservatoires. It gave me great pain to see my fellow students unable to earn a living in their own country - they had to go to the Caribbean to work in dance bands.

"The reason was the low level of the whole musical culture. Ordinary people could not be involved, they could not afford teachers or instruments. I realised that without a programme to bring our youth into music, we would never succeed."

So it was national pride as much as social conscience that led Abreu to set up Venezuela's first youth orchestra. He cajoled 10 players from the country's only orchestra to act as coaches, and begged and borrowed rehearsal spaces and instruments.

We had the same 'light bulb' experience last year. Birmingham's children deserve the opportunities that a program like this can give them. We see all sorts of barriers coming down at Cave9 as people unite through music. I am not a musician. I am not a teacher. I am a mother, a citizen, who sees a way to make Birmingham better. What ever it takes, rest assured, I will do it. If I can do it, so can you. Get involved--with this, with your favorite cause. But don't just think about it, take action.

No comments: