A letter from Maestro Paavo Järvi


For over thirty years, working and growing with musicians. I have taken the stage thousands of times, and yet every single rehearsal and concert continues to be a transformational experience. Above all, I’ve learned that orchestras are in many ways a microcosm of society at large. Any rehearsal can be examined as a study on human behavior. All over the world, at any given time, over 100 musicians are constantly making choices that impact the common goal of making the best music possible. Thousands of seemingly unnoticeable interactions and compromises are occurring every second. Each musician, who is remarkably talented in their own right, must decide when to ask questions, when to trust, when to speak up, and when to listen.      

The growth of an orchestra between the first rehearsal and a concert never ceases to amaze me. Somehow, magically, these individuals become one whole, rising above discord and chaos to create harmony that touches lives. It is this transformation that inspires me to dedicate my life to music. To me, every concert is a miraculous example of what we are capable of when we are determined to reach a common goal.

We now live in a world where it seems everyone shouts and no one listens. But it is through careful listening that we can achieve our greatest potential. It is careful listening that is the lifeblood of democracy. It is careful listening that is at the heart of education. And it is only through true education that we can have understanding. Every musical performance is a miracle. And with every miracle, there is hope. Thank you for your impact and dedication as teachers. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my experience with you.    

[Classroom editions of the film are available at www.MaestroMovie.com, where you can also download FREE curriculum.]


Paavo Järvi


A letter to educators from the director of Maestro:

It was during a very dark chapter in my life that I first heard the music of the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Despite the fact that he is of a different generation and nationality, it felt as if that piece of music had been written just for me. I will never forget that moment.  

Classical music has the power to broaden our understanding of what it means to be human; true education.


It is a great tragedy that so many students will not be exposed to this music because of commercial interests or forces outside their control. Maestro is the product of years of hard work by a passionate group of individuals eager to give our restless educators a tool that could spark conversation and curiosity.    

It took four years to make Maestro. On many occasions, it looked as if the film would never reach completion, and I contemplated giving up. But the thought of just one student watching the film, and welcoming this music into their life, inspired me to overcome my deepest fears. So in many ways, this film was always for the students. It was always for the educators who are working against the odds every day. It was always for dreams of a future where there is greater understanding.      

So, it is my great pleasure to present the educational version of our film and curriculum. We welcome your feedback.

[Classroom editions of the film are available at www.MaestroMovie.com, where you can also download FREE curriculum.]


David Donnelly

Why Failing Orchestras are the Problem of Every American


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As the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra faces a lockout between its management and musicians, we find a troubled industry in the news once again. Orchestras are falling like dominoes. The mood is tense and the forecast is dismal. An erosive force, continual and subtle, is eating away the core of a cultural institution. You may have heard this story before: classical music is in decline, music education is so important, but why should you care? Failing orchestras create severe economic, social, and cultural repercussions for our nation as a whole. This is very much your problem.

Orchestras are more than just organizations that perform music. They have a direct impact on local economies. They increase tourism and raise the status of a city. Many of the musicians in orchestras are also teachers, who are actively training students in the community. When orchestras fail, high caliber musicians are more likely to look for work in other cities. Music education leads to fuller development of the brain, which leads to increased math and science scores. This leads to more engineers, scientists, and innovators. At a time when America is getting its ass kicked in math and science, music education should be more of a priority now than ever for the sheer sake of global competitive advantage.

The musicians who make up an orchestra are highly trained individuals who have devoted their lives to musical excellence. They achieve this level of mastery through hard work and discipline that begins at a young age. When you attend a live concert, there are no auto tuners or speakers. The margin of error is slim, as there are no effects that can save or distract an audience from mistakes. It is an organic experience. Such an experience should always have value in a society that is built upon work ethic and determination.

It’s illogical not to give classical music a try. Hollywood makes a lot of terrible movies, but rarely do we say we will never watch a movie again if we do not enjoy it. The classical repertoire is vast, and to say you don’t like classical music means that you simply haven’t found something you liked. For some reason, when it comes to classical music, we don’t look past the same faults that exist in popular mediums. More and more orchestras are making major changes to their programs to attract new audiences. They are trying. We should meet them halfway.

If we only support the things that have the most marketing money thrown at them, we have already lost our freedom of opinion. If we only support the things that satisfy us now, and are not good for our future, we have already lost our sense of direction. And if we only support the things that are new, then we have lost all the wisdom that has been preserved over the ages. In order to avoid the fate of fallen empires, we must recognize the things that are beneficial to our society and we must fight for them.

I’ve spent three years making a documentary that focuses on the world of classical music. It’s taken me to seven countries, dozens of cities, and inspired me to re-evaluate what it means to be American. I’ve been told countless times nobody will care about a film like this in America. I disagree. This is a story of pursuing excellence through hard work and determination, it’s the preservation of a diverse, yet universal language, and it’s the celebration of the freedom of self-expression. If that’s not American, I don’t know what is.

(Classroom edition DVDs + FREE curriculum of are now available at www.MaestroMovie.com.)