In the last 25 years, Peru has emerged from conditions of severe economic crisis, the result of the instability caused by the Shining Path terrorist organization. Recently, it has developed to become a Newly Industrialized Country, with stable growth and successful reduction in rates of poverty. Nevertheless, about 28% of the population continues to live in poverty, with about 6% in extreme poverty (2013). The regions most affected are rural areas and the peripheries of large cities.
Youth in these areas are raised in a culture of corruption and delinquency, often having to work while in elementary school. Furthermore, the public school system is highly deficient – children are not taught to develop critical thinking skills nor encouraged to form and appreciate diverse perspectives.
In the Nucleos, youth from low-income families are offered an alternative. (The Nucleo El Golf plays a special role in the integrative mission of Arpegio.) They receive free music classes after school, which may consist of group or private lessons. Classes are held in collaboration with public schools in the district and led by a team of Peruvian teachers and volunteers who commute to the Nucleos 2-3 times per week. New students begin by learning recorder and basic theory in groups of 30-50. Two months later, they are given the opportunity to choose their orchestral instrument, and begin with ensemble classes.See Photos of Nucleos
The Nucleo El Porvenir is Arpegio’s oldest Nucleo, begun in 2004 with the Lizarzaburu school in El Porvenir. Classes are held across from school in the house of one of Arpegio’s students, whose father has generously adapted several rooms to provide the necessary accommodations for rehearsals and instrument storage. Many members of the Orquesta de Barro, including Arpegio’s current Artistic Director, Paul Bazalar Moncada, began their musical studies in this Nucleo.
Since 2015, members of the Leonci Prado school band have also formed an ensemble to include new members.
Since 2010, Arpegio has worked with two schools in the La Esperanza district: Madre de Cristo and Abraham Lincoln Elementary School. Madre de Cristo consists of a children’s choir that integrates singing and music theory into their weekly class schedule.
Students at Abraham Lincoln began as a choir and in 2012 were given string instruments. They now form the Orquesta La Esperanza, with many of its members also participating in the Orquesta de Tierra.
Arpegio began its work with this Nucleo in 2012 at the high school Jesús Maestro, located in the Alto Moche District. Initially, it was a choir and recorder ensemble, reinforced with rhythm classes using the Peruvian cajón (percussion instrument). In 2013, students chose their orchestral instruments. They now make up the Orquesta Miramar, with many of its members also participating in the Orquesta de Agua.
The Nucleo El Golf performs a special role within Arpegio’s projects. Created in 2014 thanks to the partnership between Arpegio and the Montessori Bilingual College, its students come largely from more advantageous economic backgrounds. Nonetheless, they are similarly deprived of access to a high-class musical education because of the lack of opportunities in Trujillo. Arpegio actively seeks to integrate students and families from different socioeconomic backgrounds, in doing so, creating a lasting social impact in the minds and opinions of participants. Many members of the Nucleo El Golf also participate in the Orquesta de Agua and the Orquesta de Tierra, playing alongside peers from districts all over Trujillo.
Classes in the Nucleo El Golf are led by members of the Orquesta de Barro, who teach at the Montessori school 6 hours a week and lead Early Music Eduation classes in the Kindergarten. Three students have been employed as of March 2015, enabling them to earn wages and give lessons in the Arpegio Academy.
This Nucleo was founded at the end of 2009 in collaboration with Cultural Center of Chimbote, and with generous support from the steel company Sider-Peru. In its initial years, six members of the Orquesta de Barro commuted to Chimbote, a city two hours outside of Trujillo, several times a week in order to teach the Nucleo’s first students. Soon after, the Orquesta Sinfónica Infantil Juvenil de Chimbote (OSIJCH) was formed. The Nucleo now hosts three volunteers who reside in Chimbote, offering private lessons, choir, and chamber music classes to members of the orchestra. The OSIJCH’s most advanced members commute to Trujillo to participate in the Orquesta de Barro.
Since 2013, new students in this Nucleo are also taught and integrated into the Orquesta de Olas, the preparatory orchestra for the OSIJCH.