Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The City of New Orleans

Dear friend I haven't met yet, 

I hope this letter finds you having a great day!
My name is Albert Oppenheimer and I am a composer and educator from Starkville, MS. I have spent the last 6 years in Boston studying at the New England Conservatory and I am now a member of the Abreu Fellowship at NEC. The Abreu Fellowship is dedicated to studying the Venezuelan social/musical program, El Sistema, and exploring how its pedagogy and principles can be applied here in the USA. I am working in partnership with UNO, Artist Corps New Orleans, the partners of the Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium's Central City Pilot, to assess how an El Sistema inspired music program could be envisioned in NOLA. At its most basic level, El Sistema is a program that uses intensive musical ensemble training as a model and a vehicle for social mobility/change. For the moment, I have returned home to the south and am spending the next several weeks soaking up New Orleans. One of the goals of my time here is to make contact with as many of the individuals and organizations involved in the educational/musical/social scene that supports the city and make it such a remarkably vibrant place. I would love to learn more about you and your organization and how you work with and within the community of New Orleans. Would I be able to attend a rehearsal/concert/event at your organization at some point in the next two weeks? If you have the time, I'd also really appreciate the chance to sit down and talk about the history of the organization and its role in the rich and complex landscape of New Orleans. 
Thank you so much for your time. I'm excited to get to know your organization and you!

Looking forward, 
Albert Oppenheimer
Musicoppenheimer @

Having grown up in Mississppi, I'm used to smiling at strangers, and waving at people I don't know. I was raised with an attitude which has become one of the foundations of who I am: "Strangers are friends I haven't met yet". In exploring a new community, this is an invaluable way to look at life. What it means right now, is that I am in a city full of friends- and that is a fantastic feeling. If you know of anyone in New Orleans who might be interested in or excited by my journeys, please forward them the introduction above.

I have already corresponded with SO MANY passionate, committed, inspiring people since arriving in the city! Each person I talk to has at least three additional friends/colleagues/contacts that might be interested/helpful regarding the questions I'm asking and the thoughts I'm thinking.  I reunited today with the New Orleans Jewish community, through the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, and they set my mind (and heart) whirring. Many great collaborators were proposed and thoughts of how the Jewish community might be involved with Sistema in New Orleans were discussed. Turns out that this community is more entrenched in the city's music scene than I ever knew:

Questions of the Day:
What is the need in New Orleans? 
Where is the need in New Orleans? 

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