Elite world program helps young musicians on Easter Island

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The Global Leaders Program which provides guidance from world class musicians is currently providing online classes to students at the Toki School of Music and the Arts on Easter Island so they can continue with their musical studies despite the closure of all schools in Chile.

The pandemic which affects the entire world, has impacted all spheres including culture. Local funds, originally intended for the Toki School of Music, were re-destined due to the COVID-19 emergency on the island, leaving the school without adequate funding. Upon arrival of this news, a group of 6 Global Leader musicians across the world contacted Toki to support them in the difficult months ahead offering free online lessons until the school could once again reopen.


Music is a central part of the Rapanui culture and a source of joy and social/emotional protection for the children at Toki’s School. The online classes given by the  Global Leader musicians have been an unexpected gift and invaluable.


“We are profoundly grateful for this act of solidarity and generosity by these high level musicians, innate leaders and incredibly warm, caring human beings,” reflected pianist Mahani Teave, who is also founder and director of the School for young musicians.


Mahani Teave, explains that the volunteers “aren’t just doing online classes, but also providing guidance in how to change our funding model to enable the School to become more self-sustainable.  It is an integral aid, from administrative to pedagogical that is crucial in times of crisis.”


Outstanding teachers online


The Global Leaders Program (GLP) is a program founded with the mission to cultivate leadership abilities, entrepreneurship, and social innovation in a new generation of artists whose work generates an important impact in their communities. Directed by an alliance of ten prominent international universities and think-tanks which includes Harvard, Georgetown, McGill, and Duke and professors of world caliber including two Nobel Prize winners, they offer their expertise to a group of 50 promising talents in the music area throughout the world.


In the summer of 2018 two musicians from the GLP arrived on Easter Island for the first time to give Toki Rapa Nui musical and operational guidance. They viewed the project, fell in love with it, and in 2020 two other musicians joined Toki to share with the island community in depth.


The artists at the Global Leaders Program come from many countries including the U.K., the U.S., France, and Spain. The group which helps Toki, pre-records each class which they send out online each week so the island children can see them.  This is supplemented with online exercise and feedback sessions with the help of Elisabeth Sepulveda, Toki’s cello teacher who continues helping the children, many of them as pro-bonos.


“We don’t yet know how long GLP will extend this benefit because we have never had this type of collaboration, but the children are enthusiastic and their parents very grateful,” commented the director of the school.


What motivates volunteers to collaborate with Toki Rapa Nui’s music project?

 Each volunteer knows the project in depth and is committed to it. “We have had the opportunity to collaborate with various projects in different parts of the world, in Europe, Africa, Central America and South America. But Toki is, without doubt, the most special, most complete program that we have seen,” explains Alberto Rodriguez, a Spanish violinist and violist who was part of the GLP program in 2018 and who gives online classes to Toki’s students. “Their program foments art, tradition, and sustainability (…) and I believe that it is important for the whole world, not just for the island. Toki must become a model to follow”.


Mike Nunziante, an American guitarist, says “My collaboration with Toki is because Toki represents action, a step towards a cleaner world full of healthier people who are connected more closely to one another through culture and creative expression. Toki exists to teach its students these values and I am motivated to help them with their efforts.”


Sophie Gledhill, an English cellist, agrees that Toki Rapa Nui is an example to follow. “When I visited the island, I was impressed with the Rapanuis’ deep commitment to preserving their culture and leading the way in this mission. It is crucial to help this NGO to keep the past alive and mould the future of the island.  Both Toki and Rapa Nui can be examples on a world level.”


The School of Music and the Arts is a project that recently celebrated its 8th anniversary. Headed by pianist Mahani Teave, it is a space for cultural rescue, ecological awakening, social protection and emotional growth through music for the children of Easter Island.

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