The Search for Coexistence and Citizenship in Medellín’s Music Schools
About this event
In this seminar I will discuss my forthcoming book, Rethinking Social Action through Music, which builds on my earlier El Sistema:
Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth (OUP, 2014). Like its predecessor, it is based on a year of fieldwork in Latin America and aims to provide insights into “social action through music,” a term coined to describe orchestral training schemes that are framed as social programs.
El Sistema was founded in 1975 and inspired the creation of similar programs in other Latin American countries in the 1990s and in the global North from 2007. One significant example was the Red de Escuelas de Música de Medellín—the Network of Music Schools of Medellín, founded in Colombia’s second city in 1996 as a response to its high levels of violence.
Although the Red was initially twinned with El Sistema, its subsequent trajectory has been somewhat different: its history since 2005 is one of multiple reforms, underpinned by continual efforts to improve its music education and better realize its social goals. The Red’s search began when it recognized flaws in the orthodox model of social action through music.
This program has been subject to more critical scrutiny than the Venezuelan original—and also to more internal debate. I will discuss some of the questions that arose in Medellín, and also outline my own rethinking of social action through music.
Although it bears the same title, this seminar will complement rather than duplicate my keynote at the SIMM-posium in January.
About the speaker
Geoff Baker is Professor of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Director of Research at the music charity Agrigento. His books include Imposing Harmony: Music and Society in Colonial Cuzco (2008); Buena Vista in the Club: Rap, Reggaetón, and Revolution in Havana (2011); and El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth (2014).
He was Director of the Institute of Musical Research from 2015-17. He is currently a Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project “Music for social impact: practitioners’ contexts, work and beliefs.” He is also a founding board member of SIMM (Social Impact of Making Music). More information at: https://geoffbakermusic.wordpress.com/.
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