In the last 25 years, Peru has emerged from conditions of severe economic crisis, the result of the instability caused by the Shining Path terrorist organization. Recently, it has developed to become a Newly Industrialized Country, with stable growth and successful reduction in rates of poverty. Nevertheless, about 28% of the population continues to live in poverty, with about 6% in extreme poverty (2013). The regions most affected are rural areas and the peripheries of large cities.
Youth in these areas are raised in a culture of corruption and delinquency, often having to work while in elementary school. Furthermore, the public school system is highly deficient – children are not taught to develop critical thinking skills nor encouraged to form and appreciate diverse perspectives.
In the Nucleos, youth from low-income families are offered an alternative. (The Nucleo El Golf plays a special role in the integrative mission of Arpegio.) They receive free music classes after school, which may consist of group or private lessons. Classes are held in collaboration with public schools in the district and led by a team of Peruvian teachers and volunteers who commute to the Nucleos 2-3 times per week. New students begin by learning recorder and basic theory in groups of 30-50. Two months later, they are given the opportunity to choose their orchestral instrument, and begin with ensemble classes.
Since 2010, Arpegio has worked with two schools in the La Esperanza district: Madre de Cristo and Abraham Lincoln Elementary School. Madre de Cristo consists of a children’s choir that integrates singing and music theory into their weekly class schedule. Students at Abraham Lincoln began as a choir and in 2012 were given string instruments. They now form the Orquesta La Esperanza, with many of its members also participating in the Orquesta de Tierra.
The Nucleo El Porvenir is Arpegio’s oldest Nucleo, begun in 2004 with the Lizarzaburu school in El Porvenir. Classes are held across from school in the house of one of Arpegio’s students, whose father has generously adapted several rooms to provide the necessary accommodations for rehearsals and instrument storage. Many members of the Orquesta de Barro, including Arpegio’s current Artistic Director, Paul Bazalar Moncada, began their musical studies in this Nucleo. Since 2015, members of the Leonci Prado school band have also formed an ensemble to include new members.