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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, Music Director Lewis Botelho-Gomes, and Teaching Artist Marshall Meade. 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 or low cost instruments, 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 – 2020-21

We have very limited space in this year’s program. Please contact Anne Campbell by October 1 to inquire about new enrollment.

Mondays, starting September 28, 2:00-5:00 pm, Grace Methodist Church, St. Johnsbury – for students who attend schools other than St. Johnsbury School or are homeschooled, in grades 2-8

Tuesdays, starting September 29, 2:00-5:00 pm, Union Baptist Church, Waterford – for students who attend schools other than St. Johnsbury School or are homeschooled, in grades 2-8

Wednesdays and Thursdays, starting September 30, 2:45-4:45 pm, St. Johnsbury School – for St. Johnsbury School students in grades 2-8

This year, Catamount Arts’ EPIC Music program provides and intensive instrumental instruction in strings (violin, viola, cello) two days a week at St. Johnbury School and two days a week at two local churches. Students, under the direction of Jason Bergman, Lewis Botelho-Gomes, and Marshall Meade, 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, as space allows. The program is open to students from St. Johnsbury School and other local schools, as well as homeschooled students (due to COVID-19, space is very limited this year).

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

Please contact Anne Campbell at 802-748-2600 ext. 109 or for more information about the program or student enrollment.

Current families may pay registration fees here.

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