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Transition Time: A New Home for The WE

Editorial by Eric Booth and Tricia Tunstall
Co-founders, The World Ensemble

It’s exhilarating to make something new. Anyone who’s ever started a “music for social change” program, or any kind of new program, or even any work of art or craft, knows that feeling.  For us, starting The World Ensemble in January 2016 (as a companion publication to The Ensemble, which we started in 2011) was exhilarating—it was downright thrilling, in fact—because we knew were creating a medium for communication and exchange for the worldwide Sistema movement. We were creating something needed and helpful where before there had been nothing.

We’ve loved all the developmental steps along the way, as The WE grew and flourished—with the extraordinary help, over years, of Managing Editor Graciela Briceno.  It’s been exciting to identify new ideas, new trends, new programs within the global movement of passionate citizen artists devoted to music for social engagement…to offer our own hopefully-useful views in editorials, to find and work with volunteer writers across the world…to create a cohort of young student Ambassadors in far-flung places, who bring fresh news and make fresh connections.

But for most creators, a moment comes when it feels right to give over control of what we’ve made, to others. We have come to that moment with The World Ensemble and The Ensemble. Both newsletters are moving out of our busy lives and into a new home. We’ve selected The Longy School of Music of Bard College as that new home, for a number of reasons.

Longy, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of the most progressive music conservatories in the world—the only one we know of that makes teaching artist capacity a graduation requirement. Its mission is “preparing musicians to make a difference in the world,” and under the visionary leadership of president Karen Zorn, it is unique among conservatories in its consistent engagement with the U.S. El Sistema-inspired movement.

Karen is an impassioned advocate for Sistema-inspired work, and has traveled the world in that role. Longy partnered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to co-found and run “Take a Stand,” which for years was the primary national Sistema gathering occasion in the United States. Longy founded and continues to run the Sistema-focused Masters of Arts in Teaching program (based in YOLA at HOLA, one of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s program sites, and soon at sites in Boston as well); this MAT program is so successful that students are hired into Sistema programs even before they graduate. Longy also supports many Sistema programs in the greater Boston area by offering the Longy Side-by-Side program and the El Sistema Summer Academy. And Longy provides tutors for The World Ensemble Ambassadors, to give these young student leaders around the world free guidance and tutoring. To put it simply, Longy is pivotal to the growth of the El Sistema movement in the United States and around the world.

Longy will take over leadership of The World Ensemble and The Ensemble, bringing a dedicated team to this work. Incoming Executive Editor Christine D’Alexander is a dedicated music educator and leader who launched and directed one of the núcleos of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) some years ago. COO Anne Welch and Dean Wayman Chin will be directly involved in coordinating a team of students and staff who create the newsletters together.

The familiar WE features will continue—the articles, the Resource Basket, the Ambassadors, the editorials, and the photos. Longy’s graphics team of Emily Arkin and Sheila Barrett-Smith will make the newsletter look better than we ever could. Tricia will stay actively involved as an editorial advisor. The World Ensemble is leaving the nest with strong wings. We are sure that it will flourish and grow in its new home.

We have loved being the nexus for sharing news of the growth of the global El Sistema–inspired movement, a historically unprecedented movement that unites music education and social activism. And we will continue to support the movement in many ways—often behind the newsletter pages, sometimes in them, and traveling to visit programs as often as we can afford to.

And you, our readers, can help make this transition succeed and flourish. Here are two ways:

One, we wish the thousands of readers of The WE would propose more article ideas, so we don’t miss good stories that we don’t know about. Please send those ideas to [email protected] and Tricia ([email protected]).

Two, Graciela Briceno will be putting extra energy into Sistema Connect, The WE’s online platform for matching program needs with volunteer expertise, across the world. Do you want to post a need, or do you want to help a program in another country answer a need to help their students? Go to Sistema Connect: And thank you, Graciela, for building this promising new way to strengthen our global movement.

To read the official announcement from Longy about the Ensembles transition, please click here: