The classical music world’s latest Big Idea — a movement to marry music education to social work — has been jolted in this country by the rocky divorce between the effort’s fledgling national organization and the New England Conservatory here.
The organization, El Sistema U.S.A., an offshoot of El Sistema, a national music training program in Venezuela that has inspired similar efforts around the world, is expected to leave the Boston conservatory by June for a home to be determined. The conservatory, which has basked in the glow of association with the movement, has declined to provide funds for an expansion that Sistema backers say is crucial and inevitable.
“We really felt this was outside our mission altogether,” the conservatory’s president, Tony Woodcock, said in an interview last week. He forcefully praised the movement’s goals and said that the substantive work of El Sistema U.S.A. — a program in which 10 fellows a year are trained to go off and establish or run music education programs — would go on at the conservatory. The institution has promised to finance the program, now in its second season, for five years. Mr. Woodcock left open the possibility that the fellowship would end after that. He said his decision to sever ties with El Sistema was made with leaders of the conservatory’s board.