All the stars coming to town for the Juno Awards may get more attention, but the arrival of four musicians from Venezuela might be just as big an event for some local music students.
The Simon Bolivar String Quartet has toured all over the world, but they started out as students in a free music-education program for Venezuelan children known as El Sistema, which inspired similar programs globally, including Ottawa’s own OrKidstra.
“The program basically provides singing opportunities and free music lessons and free instruments and the opportunity to sing or play in an ensemble,” explained Craig MacDonald of the Leading Note Foundation, which runs OrKidstra with the help of charitable donations.
Many students, he added, can’t afford private lessons.
Kids from OrKidstra are scheduled to perform with the Simon Bolivar String Quartet at several of their appearances this weekend. They got their first chance to jam Thursday at Carleton University, where El Sistema’s founder, José Antonio Abreu, was granted an honorary degree.
“It’s amazing how they take in their stride, you know,” MacDonald said.