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A harp, two cymbals and a horn...

No one can sing a Symphony by himself. It takes a whole orchestra to play.

– HE Luccock

A few days ago I was at the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center for a business meeting and took the opportunity to tour the park and the buildings for the first time. Reaching the highest point of the green roof, I entered the “Lighthouse”, as the glass-walled space is called, for those looking for a quiet place to read and contemplate or to enjoy the view but also an ideal space for exhibitions and events. A pleasant surprise awaited me there! The youth orchestra of El Sistema Greece (more information see here*), would shortly make her first public appearance.

The place was already crowded so I decided to take advantage of the sunny March day and wander up to the roof to enjoy the panoramic view of the sea and the beach front. As I was returning from the other side of the hall I found a comfortable place in a place that was on the sides, almost at the back of the orchestra. This perspective from which I watched the concert filled me with feelings and thoughts about "me" and "we".

What always impressed me whenever I saw a symphony orchestra concert was the excellent coordination of all the instruments and the self-discipline of all the participating musicians, each in his role and in the piece he had undertaken. Either playing the violin or the piano and practically participating in most of the pieces, or playing the harp, holding the cymbals or a horn. I noticed the new guys living in the moment, being 100% in what they were doing, waiting with positive anticipation for their turn to make their own move that would contribute to the whole performance of the piece. Even if in this particular part their own movement was to hit the cymbals 1 or 2 times. They did it with such dedication and such professionalism, starting with the positioning of their bodies when the time was approaching, the passion of the beat, the velvety touch of the instrument afterwards so that its sound stopped smoothly. At that moment I experienced in practice what it means to put the "I" aside, an "I" that wants to be the star, that wants to be seen, to stand out and get that credit and applause. And to become part of a whole, each of whom alone does what he has chosen with professionalism and love. Where an "I" is not enough to bring the excellent result and a "we" that expresses a wider whole is needed. And in any case the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Whose role has yet to be mentioned in a team's success?

The even final result and the harmonious composition of the parts would not have been possible without the essential role of the conductor. The one who will make this ensemble acquire its own personality and style and perform a work with consistency and inspiration is none other than the conductor. With the movements of his hands and the baguette, but even with a look or a movement of his body, he gives and holds the tempo or changes it when necessary, shows the entrances of the instruments, the dynamics and the lines of the phrases.

The conductor is the leader. He is the one who has the ability to coordinate and influence the team so that it can achieve its goals. The results of a group's actions depend largely on the leader's ability. Because the ability of the leader is the factor on which the combined action of all members of the group depends and is decisive, because it contributes to the unified effort of all members.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this experience for me was the rotation of some of the conductors, who simultaneously played their instrument during the rest of the performance. This was something I saw for the first time from El Sistema Greece. I was very impressed as it was yet another practical proof of the homogeneity this team had achieved, and even more impressed by their ability to follow a different leader each time with discipline, emotion and efficiency! When a group of people of different ages, nationalities, knowledge backgrounds succeeds to be coordinated harmoniously and to have more than one leader, then we can believe that a new era can rise!

Alexios Vandoros



* The innovative training program El Sistema Greece continues this month at the SNFCC. With the aim of initially contributing to the musical education and the general development of the refugee children in Greece, and therefore to the wider society, it invites us to an open lesson - a game with choral singing as its main tool. The lesson is conducted by the teachers of El Sistema Greece with a small group of refugee children, while the vocal ensemble 8tetto (octet) performs a cappella.

The El Sistema program was created in Venezuela in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu, educator, musician and activist, who had as a social model the structure of a musical orchestra. The success of the program, both artistically and socially, had the effect of spreading throughout the world and influencing the general perception of the importance of musical culture in shaping a better society. 35-year-old Gustavo Dudamel, who conducted this year's New Year's concert of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, is perhaps the best example of this success.


The text was published on epixeiro.gr here: www.epixeiro.gr/article/80877

and in the "For Discussion" section of Decide I live here: https://apofasizo.gr/μία-άρπα-δύο-πιατίνια-και-μία-κόρνα