When we first started our music program with a handful of kids in 2009 we only dreamed of one day having an orchestra full of youth from the South Bronx. Now, not only does such an orchestra exist but it’s had the incredible good fortune to travel to Venezuela for a week of intensive study and performance with El Sistema, the world-renown Venezuelan system of youth orchestras and choirs that inspired us to start UpBeat NYC six years ago.
The Venezuelan-Bronx cultural exchange continues this weekend when the National Youth Orchestra of Caracas comes to Crotona Park for a free outdoor concert open to the public. The 160-piece orchestra will also be performing this weekend at the United Nations for its 70th anniversary celebration. It is noteworthy that this renowned orchestra, one of El Sistema’s most important orchestral and educational achievements, will be holding its public concert in the South Bronx, a community rich in its own culture but so often overlooked and underserved.