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Photo credit: Paul Hayes, Caledonian-Record

EPIC Music is a program of Catamount Arts, in partnership with the Northeast Kingdom Community Orchestra, St. Johnsbury School, and Northeast Kingdom Classical Series. Lessons are taught by Music Director Jason Bergman, lead teacher David Fickes, and Dr. Frank Rudolph, along with guest teaching artists. It is inspired by the global El Sistema program.


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 at St. Johnsbury School 2017-18

Instruction in violin is currently offered to students in grades 1-5 at St. Johnsbury School.  Lessons are taught by lead violin instructor David Fickes, EPIC Music Director Jason Bergman, and Dr. Frank Rudolph. Students meet after school four days a week for two hours. In addition to regular “informances” for friends and family, the group is planning to perform for fellow students and with the Northeast Kingdom Community Orchestra.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Anne Campbell at 802-748-2600 ext. 108 or



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!