Imagine a run-down Council Estate in Stirling, nothing much to recommend it other than boarded windows, litter, kids hanging around the streets. That was Raploch five years or so ago. Since then attempts have been made to put new life into the area, and at the fore-front is the Big Noise, part of the El Systema movement from Venezuela, which seeks to use classical music and forming a symphony orchestra as a catalyst for new life.
The organisation start working with children in nursery and primary schools. Four years ago only one person played a musical instrument, now there are 450 players. And last night they took part in a concert with the world famous Simon Bolivar symphony orchestra, conducted by the amazing Gustavo Dudamel. The sheer energy and enjoyment of crowd, children and musicians was amazing. The concert was held in the heart of the Raploch, a massive stage erected on a piece of waste ground. 7,000 people came along and audience participation was akin to the Last Night of the Proms.
Plans are now in place to take 80 of the Raploch children to Caracas. The founding member in Scotland, was Richard Holloway – his was the vision to bring the movement to Scotland. Scotland, in its poorer areas has similar problems in lack of identity and communal self-respect. I was blown away by the whole evening and somehow full of hope for the future of El Systema in Scotland. The undernoted youtube video clips gives a flavour of their work….