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Jose Antonio Abreu 

Jose Antonio Abreu was a Venezuelan Orchestra Conductor, Pianist, economist, educator, activist, and political best known for his association with El Sistema. He was born on May 7th 1939 in Velera, Venezuela.

Inspirational speech.
My dear friends, ladies and gentlemen: I am overjoyed today at being a warded the “Ted Price”. On behalf of all the distinguished music teachers, artists and educators from Venezuela who have selflessly and loyally accompanied me for 35 years in founding, growing and developing in Venezuela the National System of Youth and children’s Orchestras and Choirs.

Since I was a boy, in my early childhood, I always wanted to be a musician, and thank God, I made it. From my teachers, my family and my community, I had all the necessary support to become a musician. All my life I’ve dreamed that all Venezuela children have the same opportunity I had. From that desire and from my heart stemmed the idea to make music a deep and global reality for my country.

From the very first rehearsal, I saw the bright future ahead, because the rehearsal meant a great challenge to me. I had received a donation of fifty music stands to be used by one hundred boys in that rehearsal. When I arrived at the rehearsal, only eleven kids had showed up and I said to myself. Do I close the program or multiply these kids?”. I decided to face the challenge, and on that same night, I decided to face the challenge, and on that same night, I promised those eleven children I’d turn our Orchestra into one of the leading Orchestras in the world. Two months ago I remembered that promise I made, when a distinguished English Critic published an article in the London times asking who could be the winner of the “Orchestra World Cup”. He mentioned four great world Orchestras, and the fifth one was Venezuela’s Youth Symphony Orchestra. 

Today we can say that art in Latin America is no longer a monopoly of elites and that it has become a social right, a right for all the people.

Children’s say: There is no difference here between classes nor white or black, if you have money or not. Simply, if you are talented, if you have the Vocation and the will to be here, you get in, you share with us and make music End.

During the recent tour by the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, of US and Europe we saw how our music moved young audiences to the bottom of their Souls, how many children and adolescents rushed up to the stage to receive the jackets from our musicians, how the standing ovations, sometimes 30 minutes long, seemed to last forever and how the public after the concert was over, went out into the street to greet our young people in triumph. This meant not only an artistic triumph, but also a profound emotional sympathy between the public of the most advanced nations of the world and the musical Youth of Latin America, as seen Venezuela, giving those audiences a message of music, vitality, energy, enthusiam and strength.

In it's escence, the Orchestra and the Choir are much more than artistic structures: they are examples and schools of social life, because to sing and play together means to intimately Co exist towards perfection and excellence, following a strict discipline of organization and Coordination in order to seek the harmonic interdependence of voices and instruments, that’s how they build a spirit of solidarity and fraternity among them, develop their self-esteem and foster the ethical and aesthetical values related to the music in all its sense.

This is why music is immensely important in the awakening of sensibility, in the forgiving of values and in the traing of youngsters to teach other kids.

Children say: After all this time here music is life nothing else. Music is life, End.

Each teenager and child in "El Sistema" has his own story, and they are all important and of great significance to me. Let me mention the case of Edicson Ruiz. He is a boy from a parish in Caracas who passionately attended to his double bass lessons at the San Agustin's Junior Orchestras. With his effort, and the support of his mother, his family and his community, he became a principal member in the double bass segment of the Berlin's Philharmonic Orchestra.

We have another well-known case: Gustavo Dudamel. He started as a boy member of the children's Orchestra in his home town, Barqui Simeto. There, he grew as violinist and as a conductor. He became the conductor of Venezuela's Junior Orchestras, and today conducts the world's greatest Orchestras. He is the musical director of Los Angeles Philharmonic, and still is the overall leader of Venezuela's junior Orchestras. He was the conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and he's an unbeatable example for young musicians in Latin America and the world.

The structure of "El-Sistema" is based on a new and flexible managing style adapted to the features of each community and region and today attends to 300,000 children of the lower and middle class all over Venezuela. READ MORE

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