Music Fellowship Changes Children’s Lives
Andrea Profili, ’08, majored in Violin performance and earned her master’s in Music Education at Converse. In 2010-2011, she participated in the Abreu Fellows Program, based at the New England Conservatory. The program provides tuition-free instruction and a needs-based living stipend to a group of ten passionate young musicians and music educators every year to introduce them to the mission and methods of El Sistema and equip them to further its vision in the United States. El Sistema is a youth orchestra movement that was founded in Venezuela to transform the lives of impoverished children through music.
“At Converse I had amazing teachers who believed in what I could do. And I always got a chance to improve my musicianship, whether it was conducting or sitting in a music class.”
“I just needed to know more about El Sistema because I believe in its mission. Music creates profound changes in the soul and the body: increasing the self confidence of at-risk children, exercising the executive functions needed to succeed in life, and connecting them with opportunities to help them overcome the oppression of their economic and societal status.”
During the course of the program, Andrea participated in graduate courses, internships with US arts organizations like AS220 in Rhode Island, and a residency in Venezuela.
“In our trip to Venezuela we got a chance to go to Valle de la Pascua, a very rural area. One of the sites that blew my mind in particular was called Maomito. This area was severely impoverished, the kids walked for miles on dirt roads to get to school and the teachers also traveled about 40 minutes to go there and teach music. El Sistema has strived to provide music opportunities to children everywhere, including these extreme rural areas – if students can’t get to the music school the teachers have a duty to their community to become music missionaries, and help those in need.”
Meeting inspiring people was one of Andrea’s favorite parts.
“Two memorable people were Gustavo Dudamel (pictured at right), who is the conductor of the LA Philharmonic and a product of El Sistema. Seeing him working with the kids in LA made me realize what a fabulous conductor he is – he treats children like musicians and sets the bar very high and pushes until they get there. This is the motto of El Sistema: tocar y luchar (play and strive). Cristian Vasquez (pictured above) is a new rising star of El Sistema, he is a conductor as well and a very good one.”
Andrea now teaches and conducts at Multicultural Music Group (MMG) in the Bronx. She carries with her the lessons she learned from El Sistema.
“Children ALWAYS go first, not personal ego. In Venezuela people do this because they love it and they are passionate about it, not because of money or prestige, and that is what makes it so successful.”