All posts by Rodrigo Guerrero

Youth Voice Amplified at State House Celebration

Last month, we gathered young people, educators, and leaders from creative youth development programs, and their legislators at the State House to celebrate our Amplify grant recipients.

Now in its second year, Amplify has funded 27 projects designed and executed by young people in programs currently supported by our YouthReach and SerHacer programs. The grants support the creation of work by young people in the arts, sciences, or humanities that demonstrates the capacity they have to be visible and audible participants in developing safe and thriving communities throughout the Commonwealth.​

A young filmmaker from the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Xavier Harvey, described the experience of being an Amplify grantee as “innovation, inspiration, and motivation”:

Amplify grant recipient Boston City Singers shared their voice:

And Marquis Victor, President and Executive Director of Elevated Thought in Lawrence, spoke with passion and poetry.

Legislators were on hand to congratulate the youth leaders, including Senator Adam Hinds, Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development.

“I’m so glad that you are stepping up in helping your communities, and I want you to know that in this building you’ve got a bunch of people who are going to get your back, and make sure that you can keep doing that,” he said.

Gustavo Dudamel Lectures at Harvard University

In November, as part of a series of Lectures at Harvard University called “the Creative Class”, students from both the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, and the Longy Sistema Side-by-Side orchestra had the opportunity to work with the artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel.

In a sit-down conversation with LA Phil CEO Deborah Borda, Dudamel spoke at length of his experience as young Venezuelan musician in El Sistema (Venezuela’s Youth Orchestras and Choirs Program), and his commitment to support music education as an opportunity to develop creative potential, and develop the critical learning and life skills young people need to become active contributors to their communities.

To this end, besides his continued engagement with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Dudamel has championed the creation of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) with the LA Phil and its community partners to provide free instruments and intensive music training to students from underserved neighborhoods, empowering them to become vital citizens, leaders, and agents of change.

Dudamel pointed out the proliferation of Sistema inspired initiatives in the United States, specifically the high concentration of them in Massachusetts, where eighteen programs like these receive support from the MCC through its SerHacer grants.

In recognition of his artistic conscience and commitment as a music educator,  the young Venezuelan Maestro was awarded Harvard’s Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award at the end of the lecture.

Amplify Grants Awarded to 15 Youth-Led Community Projects

Youth leaders with Elevated Thought in Lawrence, MA

 

 

 

 

This year, 15 Amplify grants totaling $15,000 have been awarded to projects designed and executed by young people in programs receiving YouthReach or SerHacer funding. (See last year’s recipients, too.)

Amplify shines a spotlight on the contributions these young people make to their communities by supporting them directly in creating and publicly sharing their work.

Amplify projects include:

ACTORS’ SHAKESPEARE PROJECT, Boston
To present a documentary film showcasing Massachusetts Department of Youth Services youth artists and the creative process behind their work.

BIRD STREET, Boston
To offer a glass blowing arts program exclusively to teenage boys ages 13 – 18 which will provide the opportunity to design, construct, market, and sell hand-blown glass art.

BOSTON CITY SINGERS, Boston
The Tour Choir Youth Leadership Team will host and perform a concert dedicated to raising funds and awareness to the ongoing refugee crisis and immigration policy reform as it relates to Dorchester while celebrating the diversity of the community.

ELEVATED THOUGHT, Lawrence
To present “This is Where I’m From”, a second installment of short films focused on promoting a positive narrative of Lawrence, MA. A panel discussion aims to change views on the city, highlighting the beauty of a community often overshadowed by tales of crime and poverty.

EXPRESS YOURSELF, Beverly
Assisted by youth participants, Nick Bennett will create two 5’ x 5′ panels to reflect Express Yourself’s 2017 “SOUL” theme based on character brainstorming sessions.

EXPRESS YOURSELF, Beverly
Express Yourself youth will learn basic origami folding technique to create modular pieces for a large outdoor installation bringing art to the public and business community while highlighting their artistic voices.

HYDE SQUARE TASK FORCE, Boston
Ritmo en Acción’s Afro-Latin Music and Theatre Arts mastery teams will collaborate to create an original musical about the unique Boston Latin Quarter community.

MULTI-ARTS, INC., Hadley
Musica Franklin’s Project Helpful will create bus signs for six routes in Greenfield, Sunderland, Montague, Northampton, and Charlemont to raise awareness about bullying, how to respond, and how to prevent it.

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE, Boston
Youth-led, bi-weekly science themed workshops will offer hands-on activities, a short talk from a guest speaker and a visit to relevant exhibits within the Museum. Post activities, participants will draw and interpret what they saw during their experiments.

MYSTIC LEARNING CENTER, Somerville
Published youth author Andrine Pierresaint will host a monthly series of creative writing workshops for a group of pre-teens at the Mystic Learning Center. Workshops will culminate with an anthology of the participants’ work.

PERFORMANCE PROJECT, Springfield
To create an information pamphlet about mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline in support of the stories and scenes in the show “Tenderness”. The hope is for the pamphlet to be a study guide for high school groups who’ve seen the show and serve as a catalyst for conversations around the topic of mass incarceration.

PERFORMANCE PROJECT, Springfield
An hour long performance about the artistic struggle of female artists from India, Cuba, South Africa, and West Africa and the historical and cultural contexts of their lives. Performances will incorporate interviews, creative writing, music, and dance from each culture.

SOCIEDAD LATINA, Boston
Multidisciplinary art projects (short videos, poems, animations, art) will be used to raise awareness about student-centered learning and its benefits to Latino youth and families in Boston.

WORCESTER CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY, Worcester
Teens from the Neighborhood Strings Club will perform chamber music in three community locations (a women & children’s shelter, a senior center, and Union Station) and create a documentary of their experience and that of their audience.

WORCESTER YOUTH CENTER, Worcester
YouthSpeaks! spoken word café series combines writing workshops (showcasing different themes and styles) with performances. The series encourages youth to explore social justice fundamentals through response to global, local, and individual events.

Mass. Youth Represent at 1st National Take a Stand Festival

Boston String Academy youth concert. Photo courtesy Marielisa and Mariesther Alvarez.Last week,  in New York’s Hudson valley, Bard College hosted the first National Take a Stand Festival, bringing together student-musicians participating in El Sistema-inspired programs from across the country for a 5-day music camp.

The National Take a Stand Festival is provided to students free of charge through a partnership between the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Venezuela’s FundaMusical, Longy School of Music, Aspen Music Festival and School, and Bard College.  For some students, the Festival was their first experience traveling out of state, and gave them the opportunity to collaborate with peers from different parts of the country as they work with exceptional master teachers and musicians on challenging musical repertoire.

Approximately 80 participants, ages 11-17, were selected for the Eastern Festival. (The western states’ Festival was held in Aspen in June.) Twenty-five participants were from Massachusetts, making it the largest delegation from any single state. Most of the Massachusetts students (including 13 from Boston String Academy, whose program is pictured above) also participate in programs supported by MCC’s SerHacer Program.

In addition to its large student contingent, Boston String Academy’s excellence was recognized with the selection of Co-Director Mariesther Alvarez to join the Festival’s roster of 10 Master Teachers who ground both the Western and Eastern Festivals. Co-Director Marielisa Alvarez was also invited to teach at the Eastern Festival.

The El Sistema model originated in Venezuela with the goal of promoting social change and citizenship through music, primarily by providing orchestral music experiences universally.  In its 40 years, El Sistema has inspired thousands of music educators around the world.