Julian Lloyd Webber will visit El Sistema centres in Venezuela at the invitation of the project’s founder José Antonio Abreu. Lloyd Webber is Chairman of In Harmony, the English music programme inspired by El Sistema.
Launched earlier this year, In Harmony has already involved hundreds of primary schoolchildren, teachers and families. It was inspired by the success of Venezuela’s El Sistema, which promotes social cohesion.
There are currently three In Harmony projects, in Liverpool, Norwich and Lambeth. The Liverpool project, supported by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, involved children in a concert with the orchestra at the end of the summer term 2009. In Norwich, where the In Harmony project is supported by Norwich and Norfolk Community Arts, there are daily music classes for all nursery, reception and year one pupils. At the Lambeth project, run by Lambeth Music Services, there are plans to develop a project to teach older children about music technology.
In Harmony seeks to make music available to all children. Julian Lloyd Webber describes In Harmony as 'a social project with music at its heart’. He says: "Music has the power to transform lives and bring people together and we need that more than ever in these difficult times. We have already seen musical and social improvement for the children and families involved with In Harmony and – given time – there is no reason why England cannot experience the same amazing results achieved by El Sistema in Venezuela.” Lloyd Webber will experience El Sistema’s results first-hand when he visits Venezuela from 23 November. He will work with children and attend meetings with Maestro Abreu.
Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema's most famous alumnus, has recently been appointed music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His opening concert with the orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall will be presented by Anne-Marie Minhall on Classic FM at 3pm on Saturday 31 October.