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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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The National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela

Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts 2008


"I heard about the news in Paris, through EURONEWS. It has made me very happy. The work of these orchestras is unique worldwide. It is a well-deserved recognition and I would personally like to convey to them from the bottom of my heart that I am at their disposal for anything they may need. They are making a remarkable effort with very few means."

Teresa Berganza
1991 Prince of Asturias Award Laureate for the Arts

Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, received musical training within the National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela.

"For us, the National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela, it is a great honour to be bestowed with the 2008 Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts. All of this is the result of the work carried out by a man of an immeasurable spirit, Jose Antonio Abreu, who made his dream come true, in which music could save lives building up the hopes of hundreds of thousands of children that now take part in this magnificent initiative. For me, a direct product of this System, it provides a great encouragement to continue performing and struggling alongside my music professor and my fellow students and in that way continuing to develop this wonderful idea which can, without a doubt, change society by bringing sensitivity, faith and hope for future generations worldwide. There are not enough words to thank our Maestro for opening up a path full of possibilities and for giving us the opportunity to celebrate life through music. Maestro, thank you for dreaming this dream and for turning it into a reality."

Gustavo Dudamel
Music Director of the Los Angles Philaharmonic


"I believe conferring the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts to the National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela is the right decision, since this project proves like no other the existential value of music. Music is more than a profession; it is a way of life. I would like to congratulate both the jury and the laureates."

Daniel Barenboim
2002 Prince of Asturias Award Laureate for Concord


"We were moved with the deepest emotion when we received the text in which the Distinguished Jury announced the conferral of the 2008 Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts on the Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela.

In expressing our deepest gratitude for such an illustrious Award, we would like to take the occasion to reiterate our firm stance that the Mission of Art in the new generations should transcend the boundaries of aesthetics and project itself over the sweeping domain that ranges from an integrated humanistic edification of character to the full insertion of youth and children in a constructive, fruitful and budding social life via artistic endeavour.
The Musical Youth and Children of Latin America thus clearly constitute a sublime example for a Continent which finds a glorious paradigm in the existence and works of its intellectuals and artists.

From the outset, our efforts have been inspired by the principle that Artistic Education, far from constituting the monopoly of elites, should be considered an eminent Social Right of our peoples. No longer can any Social Project that has been seriously conceived deny the character of the Democratization of Artistic Teaching as a priority Programme for training and rescuing the new generations. Thus, an integrated organisation of National Systems for Education in Art and for Art, at the level of the popular majorities, becomes ever more imperative as a matchless instrument for Social Inclusion and Community Integration.

Hence, the essential goal of the National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela refers not only to the artistic plane, but is also directly and profoundly embedded in the overall context of a strategy of Participation, Training, Prevention and Rescue of Youth and Children in and for Art. In their condition as communities in a never-ending exercise of coordination and harmonization, the Youth and Children Orchestras and Choirs represent the model of an advanced, authentic School of Social Life. In Venezuela, daily Orchestral and Choral practice has proven itself to be a particularly effective tool for solidly rooting youth and children in collective endeavours, in coexisting in solidarity, in a creative endeavour that profoundly builds character and which propitiates the forging of a spirit of solidarity and fraternity, in addition to a formidable development of self-esteem. Material poverty begins to be vanquished by the sublime spiritual riches that germinate in and for Music.

The Prince of Asturias Foundation may stand fully assured that the Prince of Asturias Award has deeply reaffirmed in our hearts the commitment to continue to tenaciously work for the children of Venezuela and Latin America, fully devoted as educators and as artists to the undying cause of the region´s youth.

On behalf of the National Youth and Children Orchestras and Choirs, I take the occasion to reiterate the pledge of our most lofty consideration, deep affection and everlasting gratitude".

José Antonio Abreu
Founding Director
National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela


"Many congratulations to all concerned. What a richly deserved award. Dr Abreu has dedicated his life to transforming the lives of generations of young Venezuelans through music and El Sistema. Thanks to his influence, more and more young people worldwide are able to benefit from the power of music to reach out and make a real difference. It is humbling and a great pleasure and privilege to work with these young players. It's no exaggeration to say that Dr Abreu, through El Sistema, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and of course Gustavo Dudamel has been able to touch the lives of people worldwide - and one of the orchestra's former members now plays for me full-time in Berlin!"

Sir Simon Rattle

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