el sistema watsonville
Dulce Vasquez, 11, plays an Orff instrument with El Sistema Santa Cruz/Pajaro Valley in early 2020. — file photo by Tony Nuñez/The Pajaronian file

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—El Sistema Santa Cruz/Pajaro Valley has been awarded $50,000 by the Lewis Prize for Music, which will help further the nonprofit’s work in bringing music education to local students.

El Sistema was named one of 10 finalists for the Lewis Prize for Music’s prestigious Accelerator Awards in November. Finalists were selected last week for prizes of $500,000, $50,000 or $25,000.

The annual Accelerator Awards are part of The Lewis Prize for Music’s $20 million, five-year investment in nationwide music education. The organization works closely with communities across the country, aiming to give young people access to music instruction, performance opportunities and more.

El Sistema’s $50,000 award will help fund a full year of the organization’s programs and projects, including their recently formed Youth Symphony. Executive Director Isabelle Tuncer said they also hope to hire more teachers and expand their reach into the community.

“The $50,000 will be funding our El Sistema music teacher training program,” Tuncer said, “and supporting locals who have the potential to become great music teachers but can’t afford it. We’ll also continue training our students to become leaders and maybe music teachers as well.”

For information about El Sistema, visit elsistemasantacruz.org. To learn more about the Lewis Prize for Music, visit thelewisprize.org.

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Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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