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EPIC Music is a program of Catamount Arts, in partnership with the St. Johnsbury School, Northeast Kingdom Community Orchestra, and Northeast Kingdom Classical Series. Lessons are taught by Music Director Jason Bergman and teaching artist David Fickes. It is inspired by the global El Sistema movement. 


In 1975, economist and composer Dr. José Antonio Abreu created a music program in Venezuela that was transformational for children living in poverty. El Sistema (The System) has inspired similar programs throughout the world, each creating remarkable social change and producing extraordinary student musicians. The programs are open to any child with the enthusiasm and commitment to learn. Programs offer free instruments, free intense musical instruction, and significant experience working in ensembles. The two most important aspects of El Sistema-style programs are inclusivity for all students, and joy in making music.

Learn more about El Sistema here:

El Sistema USA is a documentary in process which highlights the El Sistema-inspired program Play on Philly!

This video show an exuberant performance by the original El Sistema youth ensemble, Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, a former El Sistema student:


In this video, Maestro Abreu explains the importance of equitable access to high-quality music education: 

You may read the latest issue of the EPIC Music newsletter here.

EPIC Music Summer Camp 2019 (for students entering grades 2 - 7)

Monday-Friday, June 24-28, 8:30-11:30 am

Location: St. Johnsbury School

Catamount Arts’ instrumental music program, EPIC Music, will offer two weeks of music-making at St. Johnsbury School in June this year.  Students will learn the fundamentals of reading music and playing violin in an ensemble, led by Music Director Jason Bergman. Students with some violin experience as well as students with no musical experience at all are welcome to participate.

Inspired by the global El Sistema movement, EPIC Music Camp is offered free of charge (including instruction, instruments, and snacks). Donations to help cover the costs of the program are encouraged and greatly appreciated. You may make a donation (suggested donation: $25-100 per child per week) HERE.

Students entering grades 2-5 who would like to attend Kamp Iwannahavfun at St. Johnsbury School, offered by St. Johnsbury Recreation Department and the SJS CatCH program, please contact the Rec Department at 802-751-2305. (Discounts/scholarships available for those in EPIC Music who attend Kamp Iwannahavfun in the afternoon.)

If you, a family member or friend is interested in volunteering for all or part of the camp (high school or older, no violin experience needed), please contact Robin Bergman at 802-633-2871.

Please register by completing the enrollment form HERE.

If you have questions, please contact Education Director Anne Campbell at or 802-748-2600 ext. 109.

Barnet resident Jason Bergman is a musician and educator.  He is director of the St. Johnsbury Academy string program and an adjunct professor at Northern Vermont University conducting the NEK Community Orchestra. His teachers include: Olga Bloom, Sharon Yamada and his four violinist sisters. As a fiddler and vocalist he has performed worldwide and is a member of the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra.  He enjoys a thriving teaching studio at his home, assisted by his cat Socrates.



We are looking for violins that are sized for children: 1/8 to 3/4. We can repair instruments. If you have a violin you would like to donate, please contact Anne Campbell at 802-748-2600, ext. 108 or


Volunteers are the heart of EPIC Music! We are looking for volunteers, high school-aged and up, to help at the program once a week and build relationships with our students. We also need occasion help to raise funds and promote EPIC Music. Click on our Volunteer page for more information: Volunteering at Catamount Arts or contact volunteer coordinator Robin Bergman: or 802-633-2871.


In order to provide a free program for all interested students, we need funds to help pay for teachers, renting and repairing instruments, and administrative support. If you are able to make a gift of any size, please write a check to Catamount Arts and make a note that it is for EPIC Music, or make an online donation here: Donating to Catamount Arts

Thank you!