‘Rite of passage’: Fredericton kids welcomed into ‘extraordinary’ fold

THE DAILY GLEANER -- Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sistema is now part of the Fredericton fabric.

The organization, dedicated to making a difference in the lives of disadvantaged children through music, held its official opening Tuesday at Gibson-Neill Memorial Elementary School.

Part of the ceremony saw participants receive their own violins, marking their graduation from learning to read music, doing musical rhythm, singing and creating their own paper mache string instruments.

“It’s kind of a rite of passage,” Don Matheson, chief operating officer with Sistema New Brunswick, said.“Our instrument presentation ceremony is the first time they’ll be receiving real instruments.”

On hand for Tuesday’s grand opening was the Sistema NB Saint John Chamber Orchestra under the musical direction of Cesar Suarez, and managed by Sistema NB Teaching Artist Jon Fisher.

“Whenever we do a Sistema New Brunswick concert we like to try and motivate and inspire kids by seeing what they can achieve in music,” Matheson said. “These children that we reach through Gibson-Neill Memorial Elementary School are children that probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to do such extraordinary extracurricular activities.”

Although the official opening was Tuesday night, Matheson said the capital city location has been operating since the beginning of January.

“In the case of Fredericton, it actually becomes the ninth Sistema centre in New Brunswick,” Matheson said.

Matheson said Sistema, funded by the province and through donations, serves 1,000 children across the province. He added that there are 30 participating children in the Fredericton program, but expects that will expand during the year.