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North Park to Sponsor Music for Peace Festival

Music for Peace Festival

CHICAGO, IL (May 4, 2009) – North Park University will cosponsor a weeklong festival that will draw international musicians to promote music as a tool for improving the lives of underserved youth.

A series of workshops and concerts will be held around the city as part of the Music for Peace Festival from May 11-16. Musicians—who will serve as resident artists—include members of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas as well as the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, the apex of Venezuela’s world-renowned El Sistema program. All events are free.

“This festival is going to be something very unique and new to Chicago and even the United States,” says Deborah Wanderley dos Santos, the event’s artistic director and a student at North Park.

The resident artists will conduct workshops at the University to instruct teachers from across the city on how to use the El Sistema (The System) method. News outlets around the world have featured El Sistema for its ability to improve the lives of impoverished children through the creation of youth orchestras. More than 250,000 children and teenagers take part every year.

The festival is an initiative of the YOURS Project, a youth orchestra for underprivileged children, which is the first and only El Sistema “Nucleo” in Chicago. Currently 43 students from Hibbard Elementary School, located just south of the North Park campus, participate. More than 95 percent of the students at the school are from families living below the poverty line.

Dos Santos initiated the project and is its director. The YOURS Project operates under the umbrella of The People’s Music School, a free community music school located in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago.

The faculty includes a number of world-class professional musicians, including Richard Young from the Vermeer Quartet, and the trumpet player Tage Larsen from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The artistic advisors include Alex Klein, former first oboe of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Ann Murray, executive director of the International Music Foundation, and Rita Simo, founder of The People’s Music School.

Other North Park students who serve as instructors for the YOURS project include Bruno vas da Silva, Ulrika Swanson, Sarah Gomes, and Milan Miskovic.

View a complete list of events in the Music for Peace Festival.