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Organising classical musical orchestras in schools with young people from Lisbon’s challenging districts and in areas of social exclusion is Orchestra Geração’s model to engage families, local communities and institutions in a collective movement for social inclusion – a new relationship with schools which opens up new horizons.

Executive summary

In Lisbon and its surroundings, Orquestra Geração (‘Generation Orchestra’) is a programme for social inclusion through music, primarily focused on children and adolescents who are socially and educationally vulnerable. It is an orchestral programme for young people in mainstream education, prioritising schools with poor attendance and high drop-out rates, together with social problems related to socio-economic and multi-cultural difficulties.

The programme is inspired by Venezuela’s youth orchestra programme El Sistema, but has developed its own way of involving families and the local community whilst keeping the school as the central strategic point.

It has been operating in Portugal since 2005 in the metropolitan area of Greater Lisbon and in some other towns in the centre and north of the country. There are 16 active orchestras, mostly connected to areas of deprivation, involving more than 800 youngsters attending musical training activities coordinated by the National Conservatory School of Music.

The partnership is very diverse in its makeup and objectives, connecting schools, foundations, government departments, music schools, local communities, local government and technical coordination agencies, as well as volunteers, working together collaboratively to develop the programme and its transfer to other regions of the country.

The programme has been supported throughout its development – from its experimental beginnings to date – by public and private funding – ESF, ERDF, national public funds (central and local government) and private funding from foundations and companies.

One of the winning features of the programme is the communication and marketing strategy which has made Orquestra Geração a famous brand name, and a kind of label for programmes of excellence in the field of social inclusion through music. The brand’s value is systematically enhanced through cultural events, concerts, shows, workshops and public activities which increase its visibility throughout the school year.

The goal for 2020 is to create 140 new orchestras and to involve 7 000 young people in schools in nine regions of Portugal. In future, the programme will be coordinated by a new association made up of the current partners.

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Technical information


Symphony Orchestras for young people : Orquestra Geração

Member State and Region

Portugal - Lisbon and Vale do Tejo - Metropolitan Area of Lisbon

Duration of project

36 months (15.06.2009 – 30.06.2012)


Total budget: 857 500 € - ERDF contribution: 352 490 €

Cohesion Policy Objective

Competitiveness (Phasing In)

Managing Authority

CCDR-LVT Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional – Lisboa e Vale do Tejo (a decentralised structure of the Ministry of Agriculture)

CCI nr of OP

2007PT162PO001 Regional OP Lisboa – Operação Lisboa


Helena Lima

Escola de Música do Conservatório Nacional - Portugal

Tel: +351 213 463 801

Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


www.orquestra.geracao.aml.pt (PT, EN)


Empowerment and participation, partnership, culture