Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's Set for THE CONCERT Benefit at United Palace, 6/28

Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's Set for THE CONCERT Benefit at United Palace, 6/28

On June 28, 150 students from El Sistema programs in New York, New Jersey, and New Orleans will come together to perform a benefit concert at the United Palace. Simply titled The Concert, this event epitomizes the collaborative spirit of El Sistema, an innovative music education program built on the belief that music can act as an agent for social change. El Sistema has become a breathtaking success in Venezuela, where it originated nearly 40 years ago; over the past decade, it has expanded into a full-fledged global movement.

Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's (YOSL) will be among the El Sistema-inspired programs performing on The Concert. Launched in July 2013, YOSL is Orchestra of St. Luke's intensive instrumental coaching and orchestra program in partnership with the Police Athletic League (PAL) and several New York City public schools. YOSL seeks to address needs in OSL's Clinton/Hudson Yards neighborhood by providing high-quality musical instruction and ensemble activities that promote self-confidence, leadership, and team-building skills in young people, and that create strong community connections.

From its inception, YOSL has been committed to collaboration with like-minded music education programs. On The Concert, YOSL's fourth, fifth, and sixth graders will have the opportunity to perform together with students from Harmony Program (New York, NY), Washington Heights and Inwood (WHIN) Music Project (New York, NY), Corona Youth Music Project (Queens, NY), UpBeat NYC (Bronx, NY), and Union City Music Project (Union City, NJ).

The Concert will be hosted by Jamie Bernstein, daughter of legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein, who last year, upon the launch of Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's, noted that YOSL and other El Sistema-inspired programs give children a daily activity that supports their development as focused, self-motivated individuals and colleagues. "This is a program about social transformation-and it just so happens that an orchestra is a perfect template for a world that works: a world based, literally and figuratively, on harmony," Bernstein explains.

On the second half of The Concert, audiences will be treated to the annual performance of the New York City Summer Mahler Project, featuring Sheep Island Ensemble-which includes members of Orchestra of St. Luke's, New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, and more of New York City's best musicians. Moved by the opportunity to impact the lives of so many children through music, the members of Sheep Island Ensemble are volunteering their time and will perform Bartók's virtuosic and inspiring Concerto for Orchestra.

Now in its fifth year, The New York City Summer Mahler Project was first conceived by composer and conductor James Blachly to support the El Sistema-inspired program he founded, Make Music NOLA, based in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. As similar programs have formed in New York, Blachly realized this year that the concert could serve a broader cause.

"With these great programs starting up in the New York-metro area and banding together, it seemed most exciting to make this concert about the entire El Sistema movement in this area, and to have it benefit many more kids. And as a native New Yorker, I felt the importance of working locally, as well as for our friends in New Orleans," says Blachly. "The theme of The Concert is going big, thinking big, and dreaming big."

To welcome a diverse audience and put The Concert within reach of everyone from the communities in which these programs are based, tickets range from $5 to $75, with a limited selection of $250 VIP seats. Student tickets, for children ages 18 and under, are free. Proceeds will be evenly split among the seven youth programs affiliated with The Concert.

"The Concert" to Benefit El Sistema-Inspired Youth Orchestras in New York, New Jersey, and New Orleans
Saturday, June 28, 2014 at 6:30 PM (doors open at 5:30 PM).