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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 will be taught by violinist Ellen Bartlett and guest teaching artists. It is inspired by the El Sistema music 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 current issue of the EPIC Music newsletter here.

EPIC Music at St. Johnsbury School 2017-18

Instruction in violin will be offered to students in grades 1-5 at St. Johnsbury School (homeschooled students and students at other schools are also welcome to enroll, but must be able to get to St. Johnsbury School by 2:45pm). Lead teacher will be Ellen Bartlett.  Jason Bergman, one of our lead teachers for the summer camp and director of the Northeast Kingdom Community Orchestra and St. Johnsbury Academy string ensemble, will be a guest teacher.

Monday-Thursday, November 6, 2017-June 7, 2018, 2:45-4:45pm

Registration limited to 15 students
Registration opens: September 29
Registration deadline: October 23

EPIC Music is FREE of charge, thanks to our generous donors
Violins provided to any student who needs one
After school meal provided to any child who wants one
Late bus available

El Sistema, on which we are modeling EPIC Music, is a rigorous and intensive program in which students gain an enormous amount - both musically and socially - from daily instruction as a group, so we are requiring that students commit to at least 3 of 4 days per week through June 7, and commit to staying the full two hours. Depending on how full we are in the fall, we may have a second registration period in the winter, with new students committing to participate through June 7. Any student who drops out in the fall term will be eligible to reapply in the next registration period, though a position cannot be guaranteed.

Please complete an enrollment form here and complete additional registration materials here. (Links will be active starting October 9.)

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 of any size, but particularly 1/8-3/4 size. 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


We are looking for volunteers, high school-aged and up, to help teach, repair instruments, organize, raise funds, and promote EPIC Music. Click on our Volunteer page for more information: Volunteering at Catamount Arts


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!