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International Praise for The Legacy

"A truly remarkable and penetrating review of the role music has played, does play and will always play in our lives. 'The Legacy' is a marvelous and human narrative that gives us all a newfound hope in the ultimate expression of the human condition."

- Lorin Maazel
Musical Director, New York Philharmonic

"In 'The Legacy', the intricate web of human experiences is explained in the simplest of terms: what unites us as people is greater than that which separates us."

- Paulo Coelho

"'The Legacy' depicts the good we can leave for future generations. It is about strife and hope. Bravo!

- Benjamin Zander
Musical Director, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra

Best Feature Documentary

Next screening:



THE LEGACY is a feature length documentary that explores the hope, dignity, and joy that the pursuit of excellence engenders in a human being. We follow the lives of nine young musicians as they tour South America as part of The Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA) and then return to their hometowns. Along the way, we get to know the nobility of these dedicated young professionals, the impact that music has had on their lives, and the impact they, in turn, have on the world that surrounds them.

THE LEGACY is a story about hope and a recipe for living a life filled with joy in the face of hardship, alienation, and the noble struggle to become the best for the benefit of the whole.  It includes live performances by the YOA and its internationally acclaimed guest soloists under the direction of three respected conductors.

Traveling to 31 cities in 11 countries over the past year, covering every corner of this hemisphere, from Canada to Argentina, from the Caribbean to the Andes and Berkshire Mountains, we have documented the struggles and joys of these young leaders.

The musician's stories are framed by two heart-warming fortuitous encounters we had while accompanying them on their journey, encounters that show the power of music to transform lives:

The first was with an impoverished 9-year old boy on Margarita Island, next to whom fate, quite literally, placed a violin on the day we just happened to be passing his shanty. The boy (named Ludwig!) and his family were squatting in a crumbling concrete building (without electricity or running water) by the side of the road leading to the YOA's hotel. Their sole means of income was a crude cocada (coconut milkshake) stand comprised of an old picnic table covered by a thatch roof of browning palm leaves. A few nights earlier, someone had stolen their blender, and one of their regular customers had, in turn, donated the violin to them in hopes that they could sell it and make enough money to buy a new blender. We spoke to Ludwig's mother and made her a deal: if she would keep the violin and send Ludwig to Margarita's free music conservatory, we would buy her a new blender. Three weeks later he played his first concert as part of the second violin section of the Margarita Youth Orchestra.

Our second twist of good fortune happened when one of our young musicians introduced us to her teacher, David Arben, survivor #14088 of the Flossenbürg concentration camp in Germany. At the age of 14, David was interred in the camp, lost his entire family, and was facing certain death, until an SS commander realized he was a violin virtuoso and miraculously spared him. He has since gone on to become the Associate Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as a world-renowned soloist.

The stories of the young musicians all share a common theme: how the passion for music allowed them to transcend the constraints of their local environment. Yet each story is unique and the diversity of the group brings to the forefront the great cultural quilt that is our American Continent. The musicians are:


Jonathan, 23, tuba, New Hampshire, USA
Raised in the insular, often intellectually limiting environment of small town America, Jonathan is a true diamond in the rough – a hip yet unpretentious, quietly self-assured kid who yearns for a bigger pond to swim in, but also appreciates the good fortune he has had to grow up in such safe, stable surroundings. Music has given Jonathan not only a passion for his life, but also the opportunity to break free from the limitations of his upbringing, exposing him to different places and cultures that he could never even imagine growing up in rural New Hampshire. One of only three tuba players the YOA has ever known, Jonathan is a graduate of the esteemed conservatory at Oberlin College, and has just been accepted into the Master’s music program at McGill University in Montreal.
Yaitza, 24, cello, Ponce, Puerto Rico
Possessing model good looks and a quiet, thoughtful demeanor, Yaitza ran away from home and gave up a full swimming scholarship to the University of Puerto Rico (where she was studying pre-med) to enter a conservatory and pursue her dream of music – much to the dismay of her highly educated mother, whose approval Yaitza desperately wants. Hers is the sometimes heartbreaking struggle of a person trying to pursue their dreams without disappointing or hurting the ones they love. Yaitza was nearly ready to quit music when she was accepted into the YOA, and had an experience that, literally, changed her life. Today, Yaitza has just been offered a full scholarship to continue studying the cello in the Master’s music program at Temple University.
Marcial, 26, trombone, San Jose, Costa Rica
If the musicians of the YOA ever voted for a president of the orchestra, Marcial is likely whom they’d elect. Already a professional musician in his home country, Marcial is a confident, articulate, sensitive ambassador for musicians of all stripes. He plays first trombone with the main national band in Costa Rica, as well as the Costa Rican National Symphony and a Salsa band that play the clubs of downtown San Jose, in addition to being an often-utilized studio recording artist. But with all of that, Marcial is still forced to play with a borrowed trombone, unable to afford his own because of the paltry wages he earns, even with so many different jobs at once. Is he bitter that his work is not better compensated? Not in the least, although he’d tell you it’s a sign of how underappreciated musicians are, and how the world does not know how to properly value a musician’s work and skill. Although he hopes to one day also be a journalist, and possibly a politician, for now Marcial is content to continue bringing music to the world every waking moment that he is able.
Johanna, 23, viola, Caracas, Venezuela
A born social butterfly who hides a deeply thoughtful nature behind an extroverted demeanor and a cell phone that seems permanently attached to her ear, Johanna is the undisputed leader of every circle in which she enters. Another professional musician, Johanna chose the viola over the volatile streets she has to walk through every day in order to get to rehearsal. Despite her keen awareness that without music her life could have taken a much darker turn, Johanna and her family are among the most loving, supportive, gregarious people you will ever find anywhere. A product of Venezuela’s extraordinary orchestra system, Johanna has been, and continues to be, the person to whom others within both her home orchestra and the YOA look for direction.
Guillermo, 22, clarinet, Chinchina, Colombia
You would never know that tragedy has played such a prominent role in Guillermo’s young life. Born and raised in the city once considered the most dangerous in Colombia, Guillermo’s warm, winning personality and mop of long blond hair belie a difficult past, one that includes a brother killed in a freak accident and a sister living in a vegetative state. A deeply religious young man, Guillermo’s is a journey of giving despite loss, and hope despite despair. He shines brightly as an example of the power of perseverance and faith. Guillermo continues to study and play in Bogotá, where he now resides and is part of a clarinet quartet that focuses on traditional Colombian music. It is his dream to continuing seeing and exploring the world outside of Colombia, so that he can bring those experiences and influences back to his home country.
Paule, 21, flute, Montreal, Canada
Paule has been playing the flute since she was 5 years old. Her mom is a schoolteacher and her dad a social worker who travels to blighted countries to help them develop infrastructure for tourism. Paule’s dream is to play for a professional orchestra one day. Predominately a French speaker, she is also proficient in English, and learned how to speak Spanish while on tour with the orchestra.
Francisco, 19, violin, Vera Cruz, Mexico
Francisco began his career as a musician by listening to his dad and his uncle play ranchera music from the North of Mexico, but ended up loving classical music and the violin. Since the needs of his family and his feeling of responsibility towards them does not allow for him to fully commit to his life’s passion, Francisco studies dentistry, along with his music studies. He begins his day at 6AM, and goes from the clinic to the conservatory. The YOA tour was the first time he had ever left Mexico.
Emilio, 21, viola, Mendoza, Argentina
Emilio began playing the viola at an early age and has never been able to let it go. His father is a mountaineer and his mother works in a local office. Emilio is desperate to travel, looking for knowledge and experience he can bring back to his hometown. It looks like he is getting his wish – after the tour with the orchestra, Emilio was hired by the Reina Sophia Orchestra in Madrid, Spain.
Mateus, 21, violin, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
The star of the orchestra for no other reason than his humility and his natural ability to infect the rest of the orchestra with wit, the joy of life, and an infectious love of music. Mateus wants to do whatever it takes to continue being a musician. His joy for it and talent just might get him there.

Listen to selections from the YOA's 2005 tour of South America.

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