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Brazilian Violinist Raised In Poverty Brings The Gift Of Music To Chicago's Underserved Children
Brazilian violinist Deborah Dos Santos formed an orchestra for poor children in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood last October. The North Park University junior was inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema.
By: Caleb Gardner
Today, the 23-year-old North Park University junior is pursuing degrees in music and business and is considered among the best Brazilian violinists of her generation. She has performed with renowned orchestras such as the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and Symphonic Orchestra of the National Theater Claudio Santoro. Discovered by a member of one of Brazil's largest symphonies, she was taken from obscurity and patronized by those who recognized her extraordinary talent.
"I want to provide the same opportunity I had," says Dos Santos, who last October, formed an orchestra for poor children in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. She was inspired by Venezuela's El Sistema, a publicly funded program that has drawn worldwide attention for its ability to raise children from poverty by teaching them classical music.
Dos Santos' instructor at North Park, Richard Young, introduced her to the Peoples Music School in Uptown and the institution's founder, Rita Simo, who started the school in 1976 in order to provide free music lessons to those who could not afford them. Dos Santos became a volunteer teacher at the school and announced her desire to reach an even greater number of underserved children. So far, she has raised nearly $30,000 of instruments for the program and recently struck a deal with one of the largest online suppliers of stringed instruments for more. Every day after school, a host of volunteer teachers--including a Grammy Award-winning violinist and a Julliard-educated pianist--instruct the students. They hold group lessons according to instrument three days a week, and then students practice as an orchestra the remaining days.
Simo emphasizes that the program would not happen without Dos Santos. Says Young, "This is a girl who really knows how to pay back."
Located in Chicago, North Park University is a Christian comprehensive university that serves nearly 3,300 undergraduate and graduate students from around the country and the world. Within a diverse, close-knit, urban community, North Park offers a values-based education to students through more than 30 undergraduate majors and an adult degree-completion program, as well as graduate and continuing education in business, nonprofit management, nursing, education, music, and theology. By integrating faith with learning-as it has done since its founding in 1891 by the Evangelical Covenant Church-North Park University continues to focus on the important task of preparing students for lives of significance and service.
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Located in Chicago, North Park University is a Christian comprehensive university that serves nearly 3,300 undergraduate and graduate students from around the country and the world.