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Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music [Hardcover]

Tricia Tunstall
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

8 Jun 2012
When Gustavo Dudamel, at the age of twenty-eight, ascended the podium at the Hollywood Bowl for his inaugural concert as conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he immediately captivated the hearts of his audience, just as he had the minds of music critics who designated him a modern-day Leonard Bernstein.In Changing Lives, the maestro's story becomes the entry point to an equally captivating subject: El Sistema, the music education program that nurtured his musical talent, first as a young violinist and then as a budding conductor under the mentorship of its founder, Jose Antonio Abreu. What began in Venezuela has now reached children in Los Angeles, New York City, Baltimore, and cities around the world. No matter the location, the overarching goal of El Sistema is unwavering: to rescue children from the depredations of poverty through music. Part history, part reportage, this book reveals that arts education can indeed effect positive social change.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (8 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393078965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393078961
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 558,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Starred Review. This passionate and inspiring story should be read by all those interested in music education, community building, and advocacy for the disadvantaged. An essential purchase. --Publisher's Weekly

...a combination of plentiful engaging interview material and an evocative sense of place/event...Tunstall has a keen eye for descriptive detail... --Classical Music

This is a fascinating study of what's possible for a movement very much in its infancy over here. ----Inverness Courier

About the Author

Tricia Tunstall is both a writer and a music educator. The author of Note by Note: A Celebration of the Piano Lesson, she has written for the Kenyon Review and The New York Times.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I cannot praise Tricia Tunstalls work. It encompasses the very origins of El Sistema and Maestro Abreus vision and recounts experiences of seasoned Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra musicians as well as more recent students. Having travelled lots in Venezuela I am very aware of El Sistema and its very core principal of social inclusiveness. However, this book brought even more interest and happiness and I would urge anyone with a musical and / or social interest to make this work their introduction to the world of El sistema and you will emerge from your journey a better and happier human being.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Changing Lives describes a beautiful miracle happening right now. It clearly documents how it was conceived, born and is manifesting right now and shows once and for all how music elevates humanity. Very moving.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! 10 Jan 2012
By Eric Miller - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The news of El Sistema has drifted into the U.S. as a kind of dessert buffet--one amazingly sweet report after another. It has sounded too good to be true, and I hear many people respond that it is hyped or must be some new "flavor of the month." Changing Lives offers a full meal of El Sistema, so we can dine healthily on its history, its precepts and processes, its mysteries--it is full of factual protein, and a healthy serving of exotic fruits and substantive veggies. (Enough with the metaphor.) This book is a required reading for those who have some kind of interest in or opinion about El Sistema, so you can actually know what you are talking about. And you never had such a pleasurable required reading assignment--Tunstall writes beautifully, turning every part of the 35 year history into engaging stories full of vivid detail. The marvel of El Sistema seems even more marvelous after reading this beautiful book. And special thanks to the author for including the emergence of El Sistema in the U.S. in this history, giving us hope that the miracle from South America that redirected the lives of hundreds of thousands of at-risk kids can redirect the lives of kids in North America in the same way, and in the same expanding numbers. And this hope is already being realized. This was the most inspiring book I read in 2011. Like me, and thousands of others, you will believe that Jose Antonio Abreu deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, and that Dudamel is every bit as splendid as you thought.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buying More Copies for My Board 8 Jan 2012
By Jeane Goforth - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent overview of El Sistema in Venezuela--at least based on what I've gleaned from articles read elsewhere. I especially appreciated the chapters on the founding and early history of the program. I am always looking for more details on operations and curriculum to consider for our Scrollworks program in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. Tunstall has given us much to work with. The book is also very inspiring, which is why I intend to get copies for our board and some of our donors. I hope there is a follow-up in the future on the US programs she visited.
If you are starting an El Sistema program without benefit of an Abreu Fellow on staff or without the resources for an extended visit to Venezuela, this book will give you some ideas and some comfort. It's not easy. It only looks easy because Venezuela is 30+ years into it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Over the top 26 Jan 2014
By KPF - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Makes you want to go out and start an orchestra in very school in America. Reminds us of the real power of music - community.
5.0 out of 5 stars Children's lives change through Music Education 24 Jan 2014
By Kari - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had watched a couple years ago the story of El Sistema in a documentary and this book brings more of that journey to life. I loved the message and the power of music education in our children.
5.0 out of 5 stars El Sistema Teacher 14 Jan 2014
By TM1223 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am retired, and I am also a volunteer violin teacher in an El Sistema like after school program in Chicago's inner city. While the US and not Venezuela, this book was nicely done, and helped me to understand how all this came to be.
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