A hundred young people between the ages of 12 and 17, representing the diversity and inclusivity that we long to see in classical music, performed together in a festival orchestra at the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Walt Disney Hall on Saturday, July 22. The orchestra comprised students from El Sistema–inspired programs around the country who were selected by audition, including one of Ravinia’s own—13-year-old Michael Robinson! The French horn player’s only access to music education has been through the Sistema Ravinia program at Catalyst Circle Rock School on Chicago’s West Side.
In Sistema Ravinia, 4th- through 8th-grade students from budget-strapped schools and communities receive instruments and 10 hours of free ensemble music instruction per week. That intensive training certainly paid off for Michael, who, along with his peers, bonded over 10 days spent rehearsing demanding repertoire with Maestro Gustavo Dudamel. Dudamel conducted the orchestra in the festival concert, an experience that was transformative for Michael, his fellow students, and all who were there to witness it, including Michael’s mother, Stephanie, who was deeply moved. Congratulations to Michael, who has also been accepted in to the Merit School of Music’s Saturday Tuition Free Conservatory and ChiArts! Before Dudamel’s scheduled performance with the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela at Ravinia on September 14, the maestro will also work with an orchestra of Sistema Ravinia students at the festival