Orchiestrating life: promoting social inclusion and increasing personal well-being through song, dance and instrument exploration
An interview with Etienne Abelin, founder of ((superar)) suisse, which uses song, dance and instrumental music to promote integration and greater well-being for socially disadvantaged children and adolescents in Switzerland. ((superar)) suisse received the “Children and Youth Empowerment” HUB Mercator Fellowship Award in 2011.
Who are you and what is your project?
I am Etienne Abelin, and my project is ((superar)) suisse, which brings music to socially disadvantaged children in Switzerland.
Which problem does your project solve and how will it sustain itself?
((superar)) suisse is a non-profit association for the promotion of active singing, dancing and instrument playing for children and adolescents in Switzerland, with specific focus on socially disadvantaged schools and areas.
During the four hours of ((superar)) lessons given per week, a basic aesthetic education is provided and, moreover, self-confidence, self-discipline and social integration are promoted. The courses lead up to regular concerts at both local and large concert halls, creating unforgettable, positive experiences for the participants and integration opportunities for their families.
((superar)) suisse is part of the emerging international ((superar)) network. ((superar)) started as a project between the Wiener Sängerknaben, the Konzerthaus Wien and Caritas Vienna in 2010, in cooperation with El Sistema Venezuela, the world’s most successful musical-social initiative.
In Switzerland, ((superar)) suisse enjoys a partnership with the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich. It is also supported by the former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss, member of the Swiss parliament Christine Egerszegi, the director of the Lucerne Festival, Michael Haefliger, and the director of the Tonhalle Zurich, Elmar Weingarten. ((superar)) suisse is the proud recipient of the 2011 Hub Mercator Foundation Education Fellowship, which enabled ((superar)) suisse to launch its pilot project in August 2012.
((superar)) suisse will become sustainable by being integrated into the public school system through public-private partnerships. At the moment, the project is supported by the Mercator, Avina, Hilti and Hamasil Foundations.
Why did you start your project?
I started ((superar)) suisse because I’m a musician and have been in touch with and inspired by El Sistema Venezuela for a long time.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The right timing: coordinating building the project, planning the start and fundraising.
How has the HUB contributed to your project’s development?
The key to starting ((superar)) suisse came through a HUB connection. The management of ((superar)) international works out of the HUB Vienna, and Christoph Birkholz, from the HUB Zurich connected us, while we were preparing for the HUB Mercator Fellowship, which then we won in November 2011.
How can others help you take your project to the next level?
Get in touch, there’s always things to help with! We are currently looking for a CEO. Various sponsoring partnerships are also available. Please contact me at: +41 76 471 29 21, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s your biggest learning that you want to share with the world?
Stay in touch with your vision through all struggles… it’s worth it.
Interview by: Kate Karius, September 2012