Saturday, November 20   |  4 pm. Holton Career and Resource Center Auditorium, Durham, NC

Presentation and Screening of TOCAR Y LUCHAR (To Play and to Fight)

kidZNotes and El Sistema in Durham, NC

EL SISTEMA is the method developed in Venezuela to create symphonic orchestras while challenging social stigmas and empowering children in the process. KidZNotes is North Carolina's first El Sistema inspired organization and a leader of developing El Sistema programs in the U.S. Led by Katie Wyatt, a member of the first class of Abreu fellows from the United States to live and work in the orchestras of El Sistema in Venezuela. KidZnotes is a partner of the East Durham Children's Initiative, and has an orchestra of 60 children and families from 3 Title 1 schools in Durham.
Violist and Abreu Fellow Katie Wyatt will present KidZNotes and share a short video from her time in the El Sistema orchestras of Venezuela.

Mike Truzy leading his KidZNotes week 1 class, naming the parts of the violin

Screening of

Tocar y Luchar/ To Play and To Fight

Alberto Arvelo. (Venezuela, 2006) 70 min.


Tocar y Luchar presents the captivating story of the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra System - an incredible network of hundreds of orchestras formed within most of Venezuela’s towns and villages. Once a modest program designed to expose rural children to the wonders of music, the system has become one of the most important and beautiful social phenomena in modern history. The documentary portrays the inspirational stories of world class musicians trained by the Venezuelan system, including the Berlin Philharmonic’s youngest player Edicson Ruiz and world renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel. With interviews with many of the world’s most celebrated musicians including the great tenor Placido Domingo, Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle, Guiseppe Sinopoli, and Eduardo Mata, the film is an inspirational story of courage, determination, ambition, and love showing us that… only those who dream can achieve the impossible.  Spanish with English subtitles.     

What is El Sistema?

The Venezuelans have created the most advanced music education system in the world based on two premises: (1) Every child is an asset (2) it’s fun.  Social reform is the top priority: they train and educate children of every social stratum on a national level.  Children are empowered to own the program.  They teach each other; they “compete” to improve as a whole.  And we’ve all experienced the product of this formula.

Several people have joked that the secret of El Sistema is that there’s no system.  There is some truth to that.  Each nucleo is flexible, providing the artistic director with total creative freedom.  Yet, the vision is unwavering.  Even nucleo janitors understand that they are aiding social change.  In a pyramid of creativity, Abreu empowers the directors to empower the teachers who empower the children.  These children inspire social change in their communities.  At every level of El Sistema there is a sense of pride, a feeling of ownership, and undeniable purpose.

See more about El Sistema USA

Watch the 60minutes special on EL SISTEMA

Watch TED Talks on EL SISTEMA


About Jose Antonio Abreu

Jose Antonio Abreu is the charismatic founder of a youth orchestra system that has transformed thousands of kids' lives in Venezuela. Here he shares his amazing story and unveils a TED Prize wish that could have a big impact in the US and beyond.

Jose Antonio Abreu founded El Sistema ("the system") in 1975 to help poor Venezuelan kids learn to play a musical instrument and be part of an orchestra. 30 years on, El Sistema has seeded 102 youth… Full bio and more links

Ted Talk by Abreu


Latin American Reception to follow in the court yard.

How to get to the Holton Center