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El Sistema Residency

King Music Residency: Building and Connecting Communities Through Music

King is excited to host an annual El Sistema Residency, in which talented musicians from King’s Middle and Upper Schools collaborate in intensive music workshops with visiting students of various El Sistema USA programs, including Stamford’s own Project Music.  The overarching focus of the residency is to inspire a connection between communities of different socioeconomic backgrounds, using the music ensemble as the vehicle through which to inspire deeper communication.

Educational Objectives:

  • Understand music as a reflection of culture and expression of identity
  • Give voice to, and amplify, perspectives from diverse lived experiences
  • Use music to inspire connections across our superficial differences
  • Explore new ways to create and disseminate music
  • Blend music from varied styles and cultures into new compositions and unique concerts

Held virtually this year, 40 King music students from the Upper and Middle School worked with 50 students from sistema programs around the country.  Each rehearsal lasted for 90-minutes.  During the first rehearsal, students were introduced to our guest composer, Chad Hughes, who wrote a new piece for us just for this event.  Chad introduced the piece and then did a Q&A session.  The remaining rehearsals were spent in creative exercises where students worked on creating original music for a larger composition. We used Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem, The Hill We Climb.  These activities took place in large groups and smaller break-out rooms.  At the end of each rehearsal, students would record all of their ideas and submit them to the Band App, where they could all hear each other's ideas and comment on them.  Between rehearsals, these recorded ideas would get fleshed out and brought back to the students for them to record and to use as inspiration for new musical ideas.  At the completion of the final rehearsal, students had created over 50 new melodies, riffs and bass lines along with some inspiring and thoughtful lyrics. All of these melodies have been produced out to create a 3 movement suite entitled We Are Striving.  

To provide the King community with more background into the history and mission around the Sistema Residency, we provided two interactive presentations that took place during remote Wednesdays.  The first presentation was centered around the origin story of El Sistema and why the residency began at King.  The second presentation discussed the philosophy of the Collective Composition curriculum, and included having everyone participate in the same opening activity that the musicians did during their first residency rehearsal.

Collective Composition

Collective Composition is an opportunity for people to come together and creatively explore and express their stories, ideas and emotions through music. Collective Composition emphasizes the creation and performance of music as a process that all people can access, and offers shared experiences through which individuals, communities, and culture may strengthen and expand. Led by Dan Trahey, Artistic Director of the Baltimore Symphony’s OrchKids, students will use themes inspired by the mash-up concept to create their own original compositions. 

El Sistema

Collective Composition Videos

Guest Artists

Chad Hughes

Composer, Conductor, Keyboardist & Trombonist

Song Examples: Visions of a Renaissance, Seal My Heart
Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes (b. 1977) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Sir Wick graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with a B.Mus in Composition, M.Mus from Kansas State University. He studied under James Aikman, Erik Santos, Bright Sheng, Curtis Curtis-Smith, Craig Weston, and Pulitzer-Prize winning composer William Bolcom. Sir Wick graduated with his PhD from Louisiana State University where he studied with Dinos Constantinides and Carlos Riazuelo in Music Composition and Orchestral Conducting, respectively. 

His compositions and arrangements have been premiered and performed by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Morehouse College, Graceland University, Indianapolis Pops Symphony, University of Memphis, University of Michigan, Baker University, Alcorn State University, Bowling Green State University, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tennessee State University Clark Atlanta University, and Montana State University.  Sir Wick has been commissioned by Weston Sprott, Acting Principal Trombonist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; Demondrae Thurman, Associate Professor of Low Brass at Samford University, and Kenneth Thompkins, Principal Trombonist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He is currently writing a Trumpet Sonata for Band for David Hunsicker, trumpet professor at Wichita State University.  As a trombonist, Sir Wick has performed with The Temptations, Martha Reeves, Dwele, Tia Fuller, Aretha Franklin, Marcus Belgrave, Marc's Project, and has arranged for Pharoahe Monch and Young RJ. His novical soundtrack, "A Tale of Two Fools," reached No. 1 on the UK Soul Charts and peaked at No. 2 on the UK Sweet Rhythm charts.

The Archipelago Project

The Archipelago Project is a non-profit music education organization dedicated to advocating musical arts through performance, residency, and consultation. Archipelago’s mission is to connect, educate, and inspire audiences from diverse ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic populations. The organization is composed of highly trained musicians, teachers, and artists from the United States and the world.  Archipelago immerses audiences in diverse programming that spans musical styles from around the globe.

Dan Trahey: Director of Collective Composition

Dan Trahey is a musician, educator, and innovator. He was instrumental in the creation of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids, where he currently serves as Artistic Liaison. Dan also founded the El Sistema-inspired program Tuned In at the Peabody Conservatory, where he teaches creative composition and community engagement. As tuba player with the Archipelago Project he travels the world promoting cross-genre performances and has performed for hundreds of thousands of children, specifically targeting impoverished areas with little access to live performance. He has held orchestral positions in Mexico and the United States. Trahey is part of the composition troupe Creative Connections that works to bring communities together through collective and creative composition. Dan has been featured in countless publications including 60 Minutes, PBS, NPR, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. He recently gave a TED talk at TEDx Baltimore, and was named the “Most Valuable Player in the Arts” by Baltimore Magazine.

Dan Trahey


El Sistem Origin Story

El Sistema Collective Composition 2021

2019 Community Performance: Combining, mixing, and blending