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CITGO sponsors musical education programmes

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

CITGO sponsored a delegation of 40 orchestra students to participate in musical activities celebrating the 40th anniversary of El Sistema, Venezuela's national system of youth orchestras and choirs.

The student delegation, which represented UpBeat NYC, is one of more than 130 organisations around the world whose musical education programmes are inspired by El Sistema. UpBeat NYC was founded in 2009 by Jaime Austria, a jazz bassist, in the Bronx, New York, and has reached 130 children and youth, ages five through 21. Its music education programmes were inspired by El Sistema's mission to systematise the instruction of individual and collective practice of music through symphony orchestras and choirs, as instruments of social organization and humanistic development. The organisation provides free year round music training and instruments and its programmes are designed to provide participants with high quality musical training spanning their early childhood and teenage years.

The Bronx based group joined other young musicians from the San Agustin youth orchestra and choir in Caracas, Venezuela, on 1 July. Together, the groups participated in rehearsal workshops for three days, culminating in a concert directed by orchestra conductor Gustavo Dudamel, celebrating the 40th anniversary of El Sistema in Venezuela. The bi-national collaboration was held as part of festivities observing the US’ and Venezuela's Independence Day, on 4 and 5 July, respectively. The opportunity was made possible by an invitation from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, after he visited the Bronx community in 2014.

"We are humbled by the generosity, openness and warmth we were met with in Caracas. Our students learned so much from the Venezuelan kids they played with. They caught the intensity of their enthusiasm, focus, expressiveness and their willingness to help and teach our kids at every moment," said Liza Austria, Co-founding Director of UpBeat NYC.

Over the past two years, UpBeat NYC has received support from CITGO, through the company's Bronx Social & Environmental Programs, for a number of projects, including the Nucleo Mott Haven project, which aims to develop social and musical skills of youth through free pre orchestra classes, private lessons, sectionals, ensemble playing, peer mentoring and public performance. These social programmes supported by CITGO are designed to improve the quality of life of residents in the Bronx, as part of the company's ongoing commitment to supporting underprivileged communities.

"For CITGO it is a privilege to use the strength of our resources to make a positive long lasting impact in the lives of those who are most in need," said Nelson P. Martinez, President and CEO of CITGO Petroleum Corporation. "I am convinced we have forever changed the lives of the kids from UpBeat NYC and know they will be a catalyst for positive social change in the lives of their families and their community."

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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