King hosted its sixth annual El Sistema Residency, in which talented musicians from King's Middle and Upper Schools collaborated in intensive music workshops with visiting students of various El Sistema USA programs, including Stamford's own Project Music. The residency's overarching focus is to inspire a deeper connection between communities of different socioeconomic backgrounds by using music as a vehicle to give voice to diverse cultural identities and amplify lived experiences. The residency aimed to:
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 throughout February, 40 King music students from the Upper and Middle School worked with 50 students from El Sistema USA programs. Each rehearsal lasted for 90-minutes. During the first rehearsal, students were introduced to guest composer Chad Hughes who wrote a new piece of music specifically for the event. Hughes introduced the piece and answered questions from the students about music composition.
The remaining rehearsals were spent in smaller breakout rooms where students worked on creating original music for a larger, collaborative composition based on Amanda Gorman's inauguration poem titled "The Hill We Climb." At the end of each rehearsal, the participants recorded all of their ideas and submitted them to the BAND app, where students could hear each other's ideas and comment on them. "This was my first year participating in El Sistema, and it was very memorable. We collaborated with kids from across the country using the BAND app. It was an awesome opportunity because we were taught how to improvise over different tracks and create our own riffs," said Brian Karle '24, about his first experience participating in El Sistema. After the final rehearsal, the young musicians created over 50 new melodies, riffs, bass lines, and inspiring and thoughtful lyrics.
The music was produced together to create a collective composition, a three-song suite of music entitled "We Are Striving." King student Faith Walton '22 shared, "I have never experienced something quite like El Sistema. It is always met with so much enthusiasm and musical creativity. It is a time when everyone gets to create and share their own musical voice without judgment. By the end of the whole process, the composition piece is a perfect mesh of everyone's individual musical voice into one song."