The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) and its partners in the educational and philanthropic community are honoured and excited to be part of an innovative program in our community called Sistema Winnipeg that seeks to effect social change through the pursuit of musical excellence.

The El Sistema (The System) model from Venezuela exploded on the orchestra scene only a few years ago. However, the model developed by Jose Abreu more than 30 years ago in poverty stricken neighbourhoods in Caracas, has already shown tremendous success in the USA, Canada and internationally. The mission of the free El Sistema program philosophy is to promote the collective practice of music through symphony orchestras in order to help children and young people achieve their full potential and create social change in their community. As of today, more than 300,000 children and youth participate in the program every year.

Click here to see the trailer of the fascinating 2008 El Sistema film.

Sistema Winnipeg is an inclusive after-school orchestra program that focuses on children with the fewest resources and greatest need, and is delivered at no cost to participants. It was launched in Winnipeg in the fall of 2011 and it is inspired by the successful El Sistema model originating in Venezuela more than 35 years ago. This program uses the power of ensemble music to dramatically change the life trajectory of these children’s lives, using philosophies of inclusion, teamwork, artistic excellence, intensity, mentorship, and community focus. The program is executed in a strategic way that maintains growth and long-term sustainability.

The WSO is partnering with the Seven Oaks School Division (SOSD) and the Winnipeg School Division (WSD) to offer this program to students in our city that will benefit the most. Currently, the program takes place at Elwick Commnuity School (in SOSD) and King Edward Community School (in WSD). The program includes 100 students in Grades 1-5 who meet every day after school from 3:30pm – 6:30pm to actively participate in music classes that include instrument sectionals (violin, viola, cello and bass), small ensemble, orchestra rehearsal, choir class, theory, and general music.

Donate an Instrument

The WSO is accepting donations of string instruments.


If you are interested in sharing your time and talent with the Sistema Winnipeg program, please email a copy of your resume to sdarby@wso.mb.ca. All teachers and volunteers must provide a current copy (less than 6 months) of a Criminal Record Check and Child Abuse Registry.


Interested in making a difference in a child’s life? Then consider donating to the Sistema Winnipeg program. Your donation will help give the gift of music to children in Winnipeg.

Donate Now

For questions or comments, please contact:
Shannon Darby – Education & Outreach / Sistema Coordinator
Email: sdarby@wso.mb.ca

Sistem Winnipeg is a partnership between:

Sistema Winnipeg is funded and supported by: