El Sistema Greece was born in 2016 as a project that supports refugee communities through music. Since then, the program has changed a lot but the ultimate goal is always the same: to bring people together no matter their origin, language, or religion. Everyone has a story to share through music. Everyone has a story to learn through music. El Sistema Greece follows each story, trying to have a positive impact.
Year after year more projects and activities were added to the program and El Sistema Greece began to work also with adults.The first initiative was in 2018 when El Sistema Greece joined forces with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center and implemented for the very first time the Greek version of the Lullaby Project, the famous music program of Carnegie Hall, an ode to parental love. Until 2019, parents, refugees or immigrants, mothers with babies and young children, parents who had to be separated from their children, women who are still dreaming of motherhood, grandmothers raising their grandchildren, incarcerated in prisons, addicts who turned a new page in their lives and parents of El Sistema Greece students, took part in the program.12 renowned composers from Greece and abroad, after getting to know the parents and their personal stories, composed with them 20 original songs, valuable gifts for their children. These songs were presented in June 2018 and June 2019 at the SNFCC, in two concert-celebrations for love, diversity and music. We support children and parents every day, we believe in the unifying and healing power of music and we look forward to the next Lullaby Project!
The third version of the Greek Lullaby Project ”Love becomes music”, was presented on Sunday 4 October at the Alternative Stage of the National Greek Opera. This time, El Sistema Greece broke new ground to welcome not only mothers, in celebration of the parental relationship in all of its forms. Women in refugee centers, immigrants, “aunties” taking care of babies that had to be removed from their families, a dad who is both dad and mom at the same time, and a transgender woman fighting a legal battle for her right to see her 9-year-old daughter, were but a few of the “parents” who shared their feelings and thoughts on the little people in their lives with professional musicians, and translated their experiences into music, creating original and unique musical tracks.
In 2019 El Sistema Greece offered a two-day seminar for music educators, drama educators, teachers and any practitioner working with young children who would like to learn how to introduce them to music.
El Sistema Greece also in 2019, started a partnership with the first Greek “street paper,” called Shedia (street papers are magazines sold by homeless or poor people and produced to support these populations and strengthen social networks within homeless communities). Through this collaboration, an adult choir was established. Most of the members are either homeless or coming from vulnerable backgrounds. Selling the magazine in the region of Athens has helped them to change their lives. Now, singing together makes their voices stronger and gives them the opportunity to discover themselves as artists.
Music is the main tool of El Sistema Greece but we believe in the contribution of all kinds of arts. So, in collaboration with the artist Janet Ann Lines, we started the Bundles Project, unrelated to music but powerful in community-building. This was a community workshop dedicated to all the mothers of El Sistema Greece at Skaramagas Refugee Camp. The participants made sticks from clay, wrapping and fastening them into bundles using different kinds of materials. The idea of this project was to create a space to make together, share ideas and create a sense of community.