Skip To Main Content

Header Utility Navigation

Logo Header

King School

An independent day school educating students PreK-Grade 12

Menu Trigger Container

Top Container

Landing-nav, don't delete

El Sistema Residency

King Music Residency: Building and Connecting Communities Through Music

King hosts 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

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, Director of the Archipelago Project and Collective Conservatory, students will use themes inspired by the mash-up concept to create their own original compositions.

El Sistema

Collective Composition Videos

Guest Artists

Monique Van Willingh

Originally from South Africa, Monique Van Willingh is an educator, musician and advocate for social and racial justice with cultural humility and centering student and community voice as her central approach. As the Director of Cultural Equity and Belonging at the New England Conservatory of Music, Monique is committed to creating and sustaining spaces of belonging. In her past position as Director of Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program at Longy School of Music of Bard College, Monique supported the Longy mission of preparing musicians to make a difference in the world. She oversaw Longy’s one-year music education credential program in Los Angeles, that focused on music pedagogy, performance, and social justice. 

Monique serves as the Vice Chair of the El Sistema USA national board. In this capacity, she co-leads the ESUSA Equity-centered Pedagogy Working Group, recently co-led ESUSA’s 5-year strategic planning process and serves on the Racial Diversity and Cultural Understanding Committee. She also serves on the Advisory Board for the Intergenerational Orchestra at Heart of LA (HOLA), an after-school El Sistema-inspired youth program. Monique has completed the Community Counselor Course through the Southern California Counseling center, which uses social justice as the central lens through which to understand and support communities dealing with trauma and has been trained in Restorative Justice Council (Talking circles).

A graduate of the Sistema Fellows Program at the New England Conservatory of Music in 2013, Monique explored the Venezuelan El Sistema music for social change program model. She then completed the Master of Arts in Teaching Degree at Longy School of Music of Bard College situated at the Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA). Returning to the HOLA family as Music Director just over a year later. Monique was dedicated to inspiring and activating students to become leaders in their communities and attain their best musically. The HOLA Music Program served over 275 youth and it was Monique’s greatest joy to lead this program as Director for 2.5 years. 

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 Sistema Origin Story

Past performances