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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 Artistic Director Jason Bergman and Program Coordinator and Teaching Artist Lewis Botelho-Gomes. 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 – 2019-20


Monday-Thursday, October 21-June 4, 3:00-4:45pm (snack begins at 2:40pm)

St Johnsbury School

For students in grades 2-8

Catamount Arts’ EPIC Music program provides and intensive instrumental instruction in strings (violin, viola, cello) four days a week at St Johnbury School. Students, under the direction of Jason Bergman and Lewis Botelho-Gomes, learn the fundamentals of music theory and playing an instrument in a string ensemble. Students with violin or other musical experience as well as those with no musical training at all are welcome to join the program. The program is open to students from St. Johnsbury School and other local schools, as well as homeschooled students.

Inspired by the global El Sistema movement of youth development and social change through music, EPIC Music is intensive, rigorous, and inclusive. Instruments, instruction, snack, and late bus are all provided.  A huge “thank you!” to our partners at the St. Johnsbury School!

Please complete the general enrollment form here and visit the ticketing site to pay the $25 registration fee. Click here to complete the EPIC Music registration and tuition form.

For additional information, please contact Lewis Botelho-Gomes ( or Anne Campbell ( or call 802-748-2600 ext. 109.

We look forward to having you join or continue your participation in the EPIC Music family!



We are looking for violins and cellos 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. 109 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 occasional 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 high-quality music 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!