El Sistema blog

This blog was active from 2012 to 2020. It was intended as a space of critical refection on El Sistema. As of 2021, I have stopped adding to this blog. I am now blogging about Social Action Through Music (SATM) here.

Below you can find a complete list of all my blog posts on El Sistema from 2012 to 2020.

If you just want to see highlights, please visit “El Sistema – key resources.”

Complete index of posts: (most recent first)

El Sistema blog: the last post

The Mothers of Santa Rosa de Agua – or how El Eistema really works

Bruno Campo and the Cult of the Maestro (part 2)

Bruno Campo and the Cult of the Maestro (part 1)

“El Sistema, ‘The Venezuelan Musical Miracle’: The Construction of a Global Myth”

“False philanthropy” in the Sistema-inspired sphere

El Sistema is dead! Long live Sistema!

Who watches the watchmen? Evaluating evaluations of El Sistema

A model of social inclusion for the world?

“The limits of musical populism”: Abreu and his legacy under the spotlight

Eric Booth and Wuilly Arteaga, the Sistema icon who isn’t

An El Sistema-inspired program under the lens

7 things to know about the IDB graphic

‘Producing Musicians like Sausages’: New Perspectives on the History and Historiography of Venezuela’s El Sistema

Is anyone paying attention to the big issues?

2017: a myth-busting year in review

Abreu’s phantom PhD

Enchantment and disenchantment

Does Sistema work? Does it matter? Reflections on the Longy/WolfBrown evaluation

Writing El Sistema’s history

Taking a stand for what?

Sistema’s rose-tinted glasses

Press articles

A hotbed of political resistance?

El Sistema rising up?

Big Noise in Raploch?

What’s wrong with sending child musicians to play for the FARC?

“Authoritarianism and talent flight: cracks in the System of Orchestras”

The IDB reports on El Sistema

Too little, too late: Venezuelans respond to Gustavo Dudamel

The Philanthropic Ogre

From Vienna to Caracas

Fake news? El Sistema and the IDB launch their study

Dudamel and the Bolívars: Media responses and silences

Tricia Tunstall’s Alternative Facts

José Antonio Abreu: musician, philanthropist, ogre, caudillo

Professionalization or rescuing the poor? The origins of El Sistema (in Abreu’s own words)

What is the role of music in the age of Trump and Maduro?

“In El Sistema there are no poor people”: follow-up to the IDB study

IDB study sheds doubt on El Sistema’s claims of social inclusion and transformation (full version)

IDB study sheds doubt on El Sistema’s claims of social inclusion and transformation (short version)

New Year, Old Problems: Rolex Man in Vienna

“The Venezuelan musical miracle needs a miracle”

Building for an uncertain future

Size matters

Trumpism and music education

The tightening of the screw

Playing for their Lives: Sins of mission and omission

The cult in the spotlight

Is the party over?

“It’s all true.” So what now?

Reflections on ISME 2016 (Part 2): The evolving research on El Sistema

Reflections on ISME 2016 (Part 1)

Before you turn the page: Connecting the parallel worlds of Sistema and critical scholarship

The Simón Bolívar orchestra hits a bum note; and a neuroscientist is led astray

The AHRC Report and In Harmony Sistema England

Is Sistema a “movement”?

“The music book of our times”

Super Bowl Part 2 (or what would have been cool)

Who won the Super Bowl (halftime show)?

Felicity Laurence reviews “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth”

Is El Sistema a busted flush?

ACT special issue on El Sistema

Two Sistema articles in VAN Magazine

When is it a good thing to be plagiarised?

Stop press! A story about the real Sistema in The Times

El Sistema: the future of classical music?

Hand in Glove: El Sistema and Neoliberal Research

Music or Social Action?

El Sistema, politics, and citizenship (again…)

Scripp, Mazzocchi, and an insider’s view of El Sistema

ESOVY’s first birthday: some reflections

Exploring the shallows: Nicholas Kenyon on “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth”

A review and a couple of omissions

Baker and Sistema Fellows Agree. Whatever Next?

Interview in Newsweek

Review or advocacy? Kathryn Jourdan on “El Sistema”

Gillian Howell reviews “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth”

CONAC: Toccata and Fugue

Musik als Blendwerk

El Sistema in the (social) media

On bullshit and El Sistema

Censorship and self-censorship in the Sistema sphere

Report on “El Sistema and the Alternatives” conference

Introduction to “El Sistema and the Alternatives” conference


A pact with the devil

Larry Scripp on “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth”

Keeping El Sistema out of politics?

El Sistema’s 500-year history

Review of “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth” by Anna Bull in LSE Review of Books

Critical openings

Registration now open for the conference “El Sistema and the Alternatives”

Interview with Geoff Baker by Sistema Global

Response to Jonathan Govias, “Sistema through the noise”

First academic review of “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth”

“Does elite music teaching leave pupils open to abuse?”

Zapata and Abreu

The SBSO’s European tour

New Guardian article

Inside the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra

Response to Carlos M. Añez

Response to Tunstall in Classical Music

Abreu, Chávez, and oil

Yearly roundup 2014

Response to New York Times and Tunstall reviews

Response to Jonathan Govias’s review

The Spectator, Music Matters, and LA Times

Weekly roundup, Sat 29 November

Response to Hewett review

Weekly roundup, Sat 22 November

Music education, discipline, and profit

An interview with Diego Matheuz

A critical miscellany

Journalism and research

Data, statistics, and anecdotes

How big is El Sistema?

Publishing “El Sistema”

Reflections on ISME 2014

Spot the difference

Taking a Stand?

Searching for complexity

A revolutionary project

Political systems 

A day out in Liverpool

Researching El Sistema (2)

Politics and El Sistema

Learning from the U.S?

Constructing El Sistema

Researching El Sistema

Scam, Voodoo, or The Future of Music? The El Sistema Debate

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