Richly deserved award for NBYO, Sistema N.B.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Richly deserved award for NBYO, Sistema N.B.
NBYO President and CEO, Ken MacLeod accepts the Volunteer Award for Social Innovation from Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a ceremony in Toronto on Wednesday, March 18. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

EDITORIAL Times & Transcript

March 23, 2015

The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra (NBYO) is this year’s Atlantic Canadian winner of the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award for Social Innovation. We can think of no more deserving recipient.

The award is one of only 17 presented by the prime minister to individuals and organizations across Canada each year and is bestowed on volunteers, non-profit organizations and businesses that make their communities better by working to overcome local social challenges.

In this case the award honours the success of Sistema NB, the NBYO’s after-school music program for children. Originating in Venezuela, the program was brought here six years ago by a crew of dedicated NBYO volunteers led by President and CEO Ken MacLeod, a former Moncton Member of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly.

The program was launched right here in Moncton with just with one teacher and 50 participants but to put it mildly, it has grown, due not just to the hard work of Mr. MacLeod and NBYO’s dedicated staff and volunteers, but also to the enormous appeal the program has had for deserving families all over the province.

Besides teaching children music, the program secures the musical instruments for them. Sistema purchases used instruments or in many cases gathers them from generous donators from all over the province, refurbishes them and donates them to the children.

In this way, NBYO and Sistema don’t just help families, they make life in New Brunswick better for all citizens. Any music lover in the province can enjoy one of NBYO’s wonderful concerts and it is noteworthy that many talented, socially aware artists have chosen to move to New Brunswick to teach the children.

The result of all this? Sistema has grown from that lone staff member and 40 kids to 40 professional teaching artists working daily with more than 570 children across New Brunswick.

We think it’s wonderful to see programs like Sistema N.B. operating in our province. It makes ‘making music’ affordable and accessible for any young person and organizations like New Brunswick Youth Orchestra do fantastic work with talented musicians to take their skills to the next level. That is much in evidence this coming week as the Greater Moncton Music Festival (GMMF) gets into full swing, showcasing the talents of our young musicians from all over southeastern New Brunswick.

The March 16-29 festival, which wraps up at a gala at the Capitol Theatre on March 29, is steadily growing and takes place not only at 10 venues across Metro Moncton this year but also in Richibucto due to spectacular growth of the school music programs there – thanks in part to the participation of Sistema N.B.

Not surprisingly, NBYO has chosen to use the award’s $5,000 disbursement to purchase and repair more instruments for children in Sistema NB. You can see (and hear) the results for yourself at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Capitol Theatre on Main Street in downtown Moncton for Part 1 of the Sistema Spring Concert Series.