The City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize
Selected by Ninth Prize Laureate Leonard Cohen, Sistema Toronto was established in 2011 and is an intensive after-school program of free music education focusing on economically disadvantaged communities. It is modelled after El Sistema, the visionary movement founded by Venezuelan economist, musician and humanitarian Dr. José Antonio Abreu, who received the Eighth Glenn Gould Prize in 2009.
Inspired by the 2009 Glenn Gould Prize Celebration of Music for Dr. Abreu, Toronto businessman and philanthropist Robert Eisenberg (now President of Sistema Toronto) engaged musician and educator David Visentin (now Executive and Artistic Director) to bring the Sistema concept to Toronto schools, founding their initial pilot project with 60 children from grades one to four within a vibrant community of diverse cultural backgrounds at Parkdale Junior and Senior Public school, as a first step towards the long-term goal of making the program broadly available throughout the city and beyond.
Sistema Toronto provides music lessons four days a week, instruments and a healthy after-school snack all at no charge. Lessons take place in an ensemble-based environment from September to June, all led by a professional team of artist-teachers. The intensive nature of the program (10 hours of lessons weekly), means that in three years, a Sistema student will receive the equivalent of 10 years of traditional conservatory training.
Sistema Toronto emphasizes both musical and human harmony, working towards positive social transformation through music. The program shares among its participants a love of music as a tool for the unique development of each child’s full potential. Working as members of an ensemble team, Sistema children experience the joy and fulfillment not only of growing skill, the pleasure of experiencing and creating beauty, but also what it means to be part of a supportive community in which he or she contributes as a fully engaged contributor.
The Children of Sistema Toronto sing Hallelujah
Video Presentation featured at the Ninth Glenn Gould Prize Gala Concert