THE GIFT OF MUSIC, THE GIFT OF COMMUNITY

El Sistema Aeolian is part of a global movement designed to offer free universal access to an intensive collaborative music program.

There are millions of participants in over 80 countries and the program has spread across Canada quickly. Canadian Provincial and National Associations are forming. Our local program offers five days of instruction to our participants including orchestra, choir and piano lessons. Meals and snacks are also provided. Our participants give approximately 10-20 concerts per year in various settings.

Our Mission

Giving Music to Everyone

The arts enlighten, inspire and transform individuals, helping us build strong, healthy and vibrant communities. El Sistema Aeolian provides an opportunity for children, youth and their communities to experience a free, intensive, innovative and accessible afterschool music program. We provide expert instruction in a nurturing, safe and inclusive environment allowing participants to develop their full social and musical potential.

Our Vision

A world Filled with Music

We see a world in which all children and youth experience the joy and inspiration of music. The skills they will learn are transferable and include social engagement, inclusiveness, leadership, pursuit of excellence and creative learning styles. These skills and pathways will open new horizons and alternative pathways for these young people. It will assist them to achieve their full potential enrich our communities.

History of El Sistema Aeolian

El Sistema Aeolian is a free, intensive after-school music program based on a program founded in Venezuela in 1975. Each El Sistema program is free to adapt its delivery in a way that is unique to its community, resources and participants. The initiative has grown to include programs in over 80 countries and has won TED, UNESCO and Glenn Gould Awards.

The Aeolian Hall Musical Arts Association launched El Sistema Aeolian in November of 2011, serving 20 children in the pilot project. In its early days youth from the Old East Village Community and in particular Lorne Avenue Public School were first offered the opportunity to participate in this program but it has now expanded to include participants from different areas, groups, and organizations throughout our City of London. There are now 100 spots offered in the program for the 2017-2018 school year.

The Aeolian’s El Sistema is the 4th launched in Canada, is supported by a gifted group of musicians, educators, students, interested community members and the Staff/Directors of the Aeolian and it is built on a set of values and principles and not a homogenized curriculum. On April 2015 The Mayor of the City of London gave El Sistema Aeolian a Pillar Award in recognition for its outstanding community impact.

  • 3 String Orchestras (Beginner, Intermediate, Senior)
  • 2 Choirs (Junior, Senior)
  • Program will expand to full orchestra with adding winds and brass instruments in Fall 2017
  • Each participant attends a minimum of three days per week and as much as five days per week
  • Instruments are provided to participants to use while they are in the program
  • Class time: two hours daily for a minimum of three days and up to five days
  • Daily meals provided
  • This season, senior participants collaborated with Juno Winner Ashley MacIsaac, Grammy Winner Matt Alber, London Pro Musica Choir
  • 22 Public Performances to date (fall 2016-July 2017)
  • Workshops: Brassroots, Tafelmusik, Rebelheart Collective, A Few Good Men Choir, Ashley MacIsaac, Grammy Winner Matt Alber, London Pro Musica Choir
  • New Facility: Long-Term Lease Bishop Cronyn Memorial Place; 12,000 sq. ft
  • 400+ Hours of volunteer and training opportunities for youth ages 12 to 26 years of age
  • Leadership and teaching staff are highly trained professionals with University Degrees in music. Executive Director has attended several El Sistema Conferences, including “Reframing El Sistema” Conference in Baltimore and Positive Education Conference
  • 13 Public Performances to date (fall 2016-March 2017)
  • 400+ Hours of volunteer and training opportunities for youth ages 12 to 26 years of age
  • Winner Ashley MacIsaac, Grammy Winner Matt Alber, London Pro Musica Choir
  • Workshops: Brassroots, Tafelmusik, Rebelheart Collective, A Few Good Men Choir
  • Executive Director attended El Sistema Conference in Baltimore and Positive Education Conference in Dallas TX
  • Instruments purchased and plans in place to expand to full orchestra with adding winds and brass instruments in 2017
  • New Facility: Long-Term Lease Bishop Cronyn Memorial Place; 12,000 sq. ft

Adult Orchestra

The concept for The El Sistema Aeolian Adult Orchestra program started in 2013 with one of our Conductors Mark Tse. Mark was getting feedback from volunteers about wanting to help more in the classroom but not being able to play a musical instrument. Mark offered to teach volunteers if they stayed after the El Sistema Aeolian Youth Program sessions. He donated his time teaching the basics of playing a string instrument.

In 2014, The Executive Director Clark Bryan decided that beginning an official Adult Orchestra would not only fulfill the needs of many of the adults who wanted to learn to play, but also give some who have a bit of training a place to play music in an orchestra.

An unexpected evolution of this initiative was getting the youth in the El Sistema Aeolian program involved in helping to teach the adults to play. This intergenerational experience has had many outcomes including:

  • Helping with obvious needs to help with the teaching
  • Helping the youth learn to teach effectively
  • Helping the youth learn communication and social skills
  • Building esteem and pride in youth
  • Collaborating in performances

The El Sistema Aeolian program is developed by the Executive/Artistic Director of The Aeolian in collaboration with The Program Coordinator. There is also a steering committee that helps with marketing, operations, the venue, concerts and many other facets of running the program. Committee members include staff, board members, volunteers, parents of participants and teachers.

Committee Members:

Clark Bryan
Minerva Figueroa
Matt Wannan
John Wiebe
Cindy Thomas
Rosanna D’Amico
Sue Soney
Lisa Snow
Ruth Noble
Oscar and Andreina Guisandes
Rod Culham

Clark Bryan

Executive Director, Founder and Program Developer

Clark has had a long career as a music teacher and performer. He has given workshops and adjudicated music festivals coast to coast in Canada. He has also developed curriculum for two National Conservatories and written a book to help students become better learners entitled “Gateways to Learning and Memory”. Clark has a passion for helping young people reach their full potential in life and is dedicated to finding new ways to help them flourish. Launching the El Sistema Aeolian program was a natural outcome of Clark’s desire to give opportunities to all children and youth to enjoy music and find meaning in the journey.

Minerva Figueroa

El Sistema Aeolian Program Coordinator/Developer and Conductor/Teacher

Minerva was first involved with an El Sistema program in her native Mexico City, guiding children in their path to play their first orchestral pieces. She then moved to work with professional orchestras including Mexico’s National Symphony Orchestra. While being part of a team organizing concert seasons, tours, and recordings was a phenomenal experience, Minerva has a passion for education, children, good music, good food, and dreaming big: Everything that El Sistema Aeolian offers!

John Wiebe

El Sistema Aeolian Assistant Administrative Coordinator and Conductor/Teacher

John is thrilled to be part of the musical fabric in London, remaining in the city after undertaking graduate work at Western University. He performs frequently around Southwestern Ontario, maintains a private teaching studio, and has also enjoyed working with many of London’s young string players from various organization. Drawing on his experiences, he seeks to inspire the next generation of musicians at El Sistema Aeolian.

Rod Culham (Senior Choir)

Rod has spent much of his life devoted to teaching young people drama and music. Although currently a retired high school teacher, he hasn’t given up his passion for bringing music to students of all ages. He continues to conduct a variety of choirs in London and area. Rod believes that El Sistema Aeolian has breathed new life into his desire to use music and the voices of youth to bring change to the world.

Lisa Snow (Junior Choir)

Lisa Snow has been a music specialist and classroom educator for 25 years in the London area. Originally from Corner Brook, NF, she earned a Bachelor of Music, Honours (Music Education), Bachelor of Education, and Masters in Professional Education (Leadership) from Western University, as well as training in the Kodály method. She has taught voice privately, elementary music classes in the former Middlesex County School Board and the Thames Valley District School Board, and early music literacy skills with Forest City Talent Education and Amabile Choir’s Animato program. Lisa believes that good music education should be available to all children, and loves the appreciation and enthusiasm of the students in the El Sistema program. It gives her great joy to be part of the organization.

Behn Strople (Conductor/Teacher)

Behn is a passionate musician who has pursued this noble art for most of his life. His early involvement as a volunteer in El Sistema Aeolian was an opportunity for him to begin his musical career taking ownership of a method of education he believes to be a just pathway. Behn believes that the participants in El Sistema Aeolian build pride by pursuing excellence in their musical goals. He loves being part of a community of enthusiastic artists and musicians and feels rewarded by this environment. The knowledge that he is helping build an inclusive community is personally is of great personal satisfaction to him.

Jeff Komar (Conductor/Teacher)

Jeffrey Komar has taught with El Sistema Aeolian since January 2016, and he is also a graduate student in Viola Performance at Western University. He conducts the entry-level orchestra and junior choir, teaching music rudiments, foundational string instrument technique, and choral technique. Through his work he also cultivates in his students community-building skills such as confidence, thoughtfulness, and curiosity so that they do not simply play music, but rather they thrive through it.

Adrian Wright (Conductor/Teacher)

The major part of Adrian Wright’s work as a cellist was spent as a member of the National Orchestra of Wales in Cardiff, U.K. He had experience as a cello teacher in school and private studio settings He is currently a lecturer at the Don Wright Faculty of Music in the Music Education and the Performance Departments. Adrian has also a private studio, plays in a number of chamber and orchestral ensembles. Increasingly important to him is his work with the new and expanding El Sistema Aeolian program. Adrian received his training as a cellist from the Royal Academy of Music in London, U.K. and prior to that three years with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain had a considerable influence on the course of his life.

Queena Liu (Teacher)

Queen has just completed her first year of high school at Beale Secondary and teaches piano in the program. A former participant in the El Sistema Aeolian program, Queena loves music and visual art. She has completed her grade 10 piano with the highest honours and is preparing for her Associate Examination. Queena’s artwork has been featured in many exhibitions and she created a new logo for the Pearson School for the Arts. Queena also is a songwriter and performs in a band called “Populusque Romanus”.

December 11, 2011 Interview with Clark Bryan

November 30, 2013 performing on the Gamelan

November 27, 2014

March 9, 2016

October 26, 2016 (Accompanying with Strings two-time Grammy Winner, Matt Alber)

December 16, 2016 rehearsal

March 9, 2017

I've performed with Inventions all over the world and I think that the piano, acoustics, and hospitality at Aeolian Hall are among the finest of any place we've played.
Bill Mays – Inventions Trio

Rent The Aeolian

The Aeolian is a beautiful, unique, award-winning location to host your event.

While particularly renowned for its acoustic/live music presentations, the Aeolian is a versatile facility and can host all sorts of events from weddings and parties to conferences and fundraisers.

Give to Culture

Explore the arts. Support your community. Discover yourself.

The Aeolian relies heavily upon a strong base of community support that benefits many projects and events. All contributions, whether small or large, make a huge difference and will help sustain The Aeolian Musical Arts Association’s mission and future.