In Harmony Sistema England is a social and music education programme based on Venezuela's El Sistema, adapted to an English context. In Harmony Sistema England uses music to bring positive change to the lives of children in disadvantaged areas of England, delivering benefits across the wider community. The programme encourages participation in music – in the form of the symphony orchestra – which can have huge personal benefits for the children involved, providing opportunities to grow and develop academically, socially and musically.
British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber is Chairman of the In Harmony steering group, which was initially responsible for guiding the three pilot project in Liverpool (West Everton), London (Lambeth) and Norwich. The government commissioned Henley Review of Music Education (2011) reported that “there is no doubt that they (the In Harmony projects) have delivered life-changing experiences”. Independent evaluations published in 2011 reported that the programme has a significant impact on educational attainment and community cohesion.
In July 2011, maestro José Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema in Venezuela, recognised In Harmony as part of the El Sistema worldwide network. In November 2011, the British government announced it would expand In Harmony across England by extending funding from the Department for Education and adding funding from Arts Council England. In May 2012, Arts Council England announced funding for four new In Harmony projects from 2012 to 2015. In July, Arts Council England said that the new projects would be delivered in Newcastle, Leeds, Nottingham and Telford & Wrekin, and that funding would also continue for In Harmony Lambeth and In Harmony Liverpool.
In Harmony • Sistema England is a charitable company, chaired by Julian Lloyd Webber, that supports the In Harmony projects across England. It has been recognised by El Sistema founder José Antonio Abreu for its efforts in preserving the values and methodology of the Venezuelan programme, and it is part of the Sistema Europe working group.
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“To say that a man is your Friend, means commonly no more than this, that he is not your enemy. Most contemplate only what would be the accidental and trifling advantages of Friendship, as that the Friend can assist in time of need by his substance, or his influence, or his counsel.... Even the utmost goodwill and harmony and practical kindness are not sufficient for Friendship, for Friends do not live in harmony merely, as some say, but in melody.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)