The Young Leaders Orchestra focused on four pieces during the Sistema England camp at Shrewsbury School in August 2016.

We wanted repertoire that, first and foremost, the musicians would love, and secondly that would serve as ‘musical passports’, enabling the Young Leaders to transport themselves and their audiences to different countries, cultures, eras and new musical landscapes. Lastly, we wanted the Young Leaders to see that musicians can lead change through the repertoire they play.

Allegro from Symphony No 2 in D Major
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799)

Recently dubbed ‘The Black Mozart’, but more revered in France than his contemporary, Bologne was a violin virtuoso and a champion fencer whose compositions (symphonies, concertos and operas) became very popular in Paris, where he was conductor of the Concert des Amateurs orchestra. Experiencing both great favour at court and career sabotage, he also campaigned for the abolition of slavery and fought in the French Revolution.

Yet his works are rarely performed or recorded today – a fact that organisations like Chineke! Foundation are seeking to change, as part of a wider campaign for diversity.  Sistema England has launched the #GoSaint-Georges challenge, to encourage orchestras to play Bologne’s compositions.

The Allegro of Bologne’s Symphony No 2 is lively and powerful yet not too exposed, making it ideal for young orchestras. Félix Briceño, Music Director for Young Leaders Camp 2016,  arranged this movement for full orchestra (find the free parts here).

Habanera from Carmen Suite No 2 
Georges Bizet (1838 – 1875)

The opera Carmen was premiered in Paris in 1875. Carmen Suite No 2 was adapted by Ernest Guiraud, a close friend of Bizet’s after the composer’s death. The Habanera is an instrumental version of the aria ‘L’amour est un oiseau rebelle’.

The piece provided a good introduction to operatic repertoire ahead of their visit to Longborough Opera House and was in part chosen because many of the Young Leaders have played or know the Toreador song. The Habanera is challenging rhythmically for young players, but is melodically accessible, with various instruments sharing a melodic line. The piece also provides an opportunity to practise wide-ranging dynamics and consider storytelling through music.

Medley of Chamambo and Mambo No 8
Manuel Artés / Dámaso Pérez Prado (1916 – 1989)

Chamambo is a piece very often played by beginner orchestras in El Sistema in Venezuela. It is a mix of the slow Cha-cha rhythm with the very fast Mambo. The Pérez Prado mambos, on the other hand, are much more complex rhythmically and melodically, and usually performed by more advanced orchestras. We wanted to do a medley of Chamambo leading to Mambo No 8 to introduce the youngest players to the most famous of pieces from El Sistema, while presenting the next level of challenge for the more advanced players.  The piece is very challenging rhythmically and it allows players to learn how ostinato is used to mimic the motifs or phrases of salsa piano.

Ritmos Ciganos
Arrangement: Carlos Garcia

This piece comes from the gypsy folklore of Portugal. It was introduced to the Young Leaders in 2015 by Juan Carlos Maggiorani, Music Director of Orquestra Geração. It is joyous and exciting, and allows the Young Leaders to express their love for music and their physicality. It provided a lot of opportunities for peer mentoring, as during the camp we had the more experienced children teach the piece to the new members of the orchestra.