The “power of music” will be on full display this weekend as Sistema Winnipeg presents a concert in support of the program.  

In partnership with the Seven Oaks and Winnipeg School Divisions, the afterschool initiative aims to help youth make a difference in their world and communities through the skills and connections developed through music.  



“(Sistema) gives kids a chance that they wouldn’t potentially have otherwise,” says WSO Assistant Director of Education and Community Brent Johnson.  

Working in what are considered at-risk communities, the program helps instill participants with self-confidence and self-worth, character traits that will hopefully stay with them throughout their lives, says Johnson.  

“It makes such a big difference.” 

In her first year as Sistema Winnipeg Music Director, conductor Monica Chen echoes the sentiment.  

“It’s always really great to see how the students are progressing long term,” she says, noting there have been plenty of performance opportunities of late.  

In addition to a winter concert, some students sang the anthem at a recent Manitoba Moose hockey game.  

However, some financial investments are needed to help the students (and their instruments) grow. 

For instance, young string players aren’t playing on full-size violins.  

“Our youngest students are in grade one and so they’re starting on a quarter-size or maybe even an eighth-size instrument,” says Johnson.  

“My own kids have outgrown their shoes twice already this year,” he quips. “It’s much the same in the land of right sized string instruments for these kids. Their bodies are getting bigger and so we need to meet those needs.”   

According to the Sistema Winnipeg website:  

  • $3,000 supports one student for an entire year 
  • $1,000 buys a cello 
  • $500 buys a flute, trumpet, or viola 
  • $300 buys a violin 

The benefit concert on Sunday, February 11 at 2 p.m. in St. John's Chapel at the University of Manitoba looks to offset some of those costs through financial contributions.  

This the first concert since the pandemic, and it provides the opportunity to come together as a community while raising money for a cause, says Johnson.  

“It’s very much a ‘friend-raiser’ as much as it is a ‘fundraiser’ as well.” 

The concert is being held in memory of Judith Prescott Flynn, a longtime Sistema supporter and advocate.  

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and youth.  

Learn more at