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Our Shared History

From Caracas to Denver


El Sistema began in Caracas Venezuela in 1975, through the vision of Dr. José Antonio Abreu. He dreamed big, planning to provide quality music education to all children in Venezuela, no matter their background. Dr. Abreu believed, as we do today, that making music in an ensemble builds critical life skills and the groundwork for success. 

At his first rehearsal, Dr. Abreu expected to have one hundred students. In reality, only eleven students showed up. Dr. Abreu could have been disheartened and stopped there. Instead, he continued forward—knowing that with time and heart El Sistema would grow. He believed his students would attain musical excellence, but through practice and the structure of the ensemble they would also develop collaborative skills and an ethical framework for life.

Beginning with one man’s vision and just eleven students, a global movement was born. El Sistema in Venezuela, now known as Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar, has 31 symphony orchestras, and more than 300,000 children attend their music schools.

Outside of Venezuela, there are El Sistema inspired programs throughout the world—including El Sistema Colorado. Here we aim to provide children of marginalized communities the same access to high-quality music education as their more privileged peers. We celebrate Dr. Abreu’s vision that music education can improve the life trajectory of children in poverty. At El Sistema Colorado we are committed to cultivating the whole child. We know instrumental and choral ensembles build students’ musical, social, and cognitive skills. We also believe by cultivating support for the whole family and greater community, we positively impact our young musicians’ growing self-confidence, social-emotional development, and leadership skills. 

You can help support our mission to empower children by providing a music program that teaches the importance of teamwork, promotes self-confidence, and instills the value of social responsibility. 

Consider becoming a monthly donor, whether the monthly contribution is big or small, we deeply appreciate the consistent support that helps our students achieve success.

World-famous cellist invites El Sistema Colorado kids to join him on-stage at Red Rocks

The world’s most renowned cellist and musical ambassador started his two-year world tour, in part by inviting the El Sistema Colorado (ESC) youth orchestra to join him on-stage at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, August, 1 2018. “When we got a call from him we thought, ‘He wants to connect with our kids’… but instead, it was to invite our kids to perform on-stage with him!” ESC Board Chair, Maritza Dominguez Braswell explained.

“It’s a big deal for her,” said Ron, one of ESC’s parents, who described the impact on his daughter, Nehemiah “At first they were just scratching the bow on the string, but now we hear music… It’s really nice to see these kids have a skill. It’s had a big impact on our family.”

Partner with us to provide daily afterschool ensemble music to Denver’s under-served youth, and for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. 

Click here to make donation!

20X20 for Colorado Gives Day

Help bring for 20 more kids into our after school program by January 1, 2020. Schedule your Colorado Gives Day gift early so you don’t forget!

It costs a minimum of $2,500 a year for a student to take weekly private lessons and participate in an orchestral or choral extracurricular organization.

What would happen if those costs disappeared for our city’s under-served communities? What would happen if everyone had access to the power of music?

El Sistema Colorado is making this a reality for Denver’s children.

We believe music has the power to change lives for the better by teaching perseverance, teamwork, and social responsibility through an ensemble setting. Our mission is to transform lives through music education by providing intensive in-school and after-school music programs.

Click here to make your gift today!