"It is important to be able to live in questioning, in not knowing, without impatience.
Often one is tempted to grab onto an answer in order to end the pain of not knowing. We are surrounded by people clinging to their certainties in order to avoid the work of living the questions that perplex them. It is a great gift and a high duty to live in what we do not know, patiently working toward answers that may or may not ever come.
May we receive the gift of living patiently and confidently in unknowing."
New Orleans, Louisiana
On Tuesday, October 25th, I will return home to the south and spend the next month or so soaking up New Orleans and exploring how an El Sistema inspired program might fit into this vibrant and complex city. During my time there, I will be immersing myself in the city's artistic/educational/social ecosystem, identifying and forming initial relationships with the organizations and individuals that support New Orleans. In order to help me connect with the community and to give me a foundation, I'll be working in partnership with UNO, Artist Corps New Orleans, and partners of the Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium's Central City Pilot. I am making the attempt to enter this journey with no preconceptions, open to all opportunities and experiences which present themselves while I'm there.
In addition to the relationships built and the experience garnered, there are two additional projects I'm planning to begin while in the city.
- Improv/Comp Survey
- I will begin an initial survey of how El Sistema inspired programs around the U.S.A introduce the language of music to their students. The survey will focus specifically on the presence of creativity and ownership when a student learns to speak, read, and write music. Can improvisation and composition be intrinsic parts of El Sistema? Is that possibility exciting?
- Commissioning Project
- I will structure and initiate a commissioning project involving various composers and challenging them to create pieces tailored to tiered nucleo development. The goal will be to have a single work with interchangeable parts written for at least 3 levels of ability- beginner, intermediate, expert. This will allow every participant in a program to play in an ensemble together, no matter the level. These pieces will also be particularly suited to seminario gatherings of a number of nucleos.
I will be recording and reflecting upon my experiences through this blog, which I aim to update daily while in NOLA. If any of what you’ve read excites you, or you would like to get involved, please contact me at
*musicoppenheimer @ gmail.com*