The Ambassadors’ Exchange, Nov 2019

Matthew Jones, United Kingdom

As the National Orchestra for All (NOFA) prepares for its upcoming Winter Course, it also looks forward to welcoming many beginner instrumentalists in this year’s edition of “Musical Chairs!”

Musical Chairs gives complete beginners the opportunity to play some of NOFA’s favorite tunes from the previous season in a huge orchestra, joined by current NOFA members, tutors, and alumni. The event is a key fundraising event in NOFA’s calendar.

In other news, the University of Manchester’s Outreach Orchestra is set to put on its first concert of the academic year in mid-November, with an exciting programme that includes classics from Tchaikovsky and Copland and a whole new, exciting arrangement of Camila Cabello’s ‘Havana’, for Trumpet/Saxophone Duo and Orchestra. Watch this space!

And finally, Jubacana was fortunate enough to receive a day of workshops from Rock Guitarist Irene Ketikidi, giving the young people opportunities to experiment with melodic improvisation, whilst coming to grips with the fundamentals of guitar playing. Alongside this were workshops on drumming in a festival setting, focusing on the practicalities of drumming whilst moving— an unexpectedly difficult task, which the young people (including myself!) definitely learned a lot from.

Linet Othieno, Kenya

In October, Ghetto Classics performed at one of the most visited sites in Kenya: the Karura Forest. The orchestra played a few pop and classical pieces. The event was run by the Friends of Karura, who were celebrating ten years of rehabilitation and saving the forest from being destroyed by climate change and the destructive activities of nearby settlers.

To honor Wangari Maathai, the organization’s founder, the Friends of Karura and neighboring communities worked together to run the Green Belt Movement, turning the park into “the people’s forest.”  Sometimes it’s not about planting trees but about growing them, because usually a person plants a tree and then life goes on, and no one is there to take care of that tree.

Also this month, our string players from both Ghetto Classics centres had a masterclass with an ensemble from Germany, Ensemble Medici. The group also performed for us and taught us about their work. Those of us who want to pursue two careers were especially encouraged, since the members of Ensemble Medici are all professional musicians and at the same time doctors. Who wouldn’t want this?

Aurian White, New Zealand

Sistema students attended a conservation day at the local gardens and performed in unique places, including a mine tunnel and by a stream. Students shared their music with visitors of the garden and the music was recorded so that it could be played for other visitors in one of the old mine tunnels. The program also started a whanau (family) orchestra, in which older students teach adults how to play an instrument. I was able to teach someone how to play the cello last week, and my mum learnt how to play the violin. The adult lessons take part every Thursday.  After the first few lessons, students meet with their coordinators to see what they can do better, and what has been learned from the experience.

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