Dr. José Antonio Abreu Awarded Coveted 2008 Glenn Gould Prize

    Founder of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony
    Youth Orchestra Receives the Prestigious Triennial Prize from the Glenn
    Gould Foundation

    TORONTO, Feb. 14 /CNW/ - The illustrious Glenn Gould Prize, presented
once every three years to a living luminary who has made an exceptional
contribution to music and its communication to the public, has been awarded to
musician, economist, educator, politician and founder of the Foundation for
the National Network of Youth and Child Orchestras of Venezuela ("El
Sistema"), Dr. José Antonio Abreu.
    The five-member jury cited Dr. Abreu's "contribution to creating a
cultural renaissance in Venezuela and making a marked impact on an entire
generation of youth through music" when choosing him from a distinguished list
of candidates nominated by the public.
    The jury consisted of internally renowned dramatic tenor Ben Heppner;
Academy Award-winning British film director, playwright and screenwriter
Anthony Minghella CBE; acclaimed pianist Hélène Mercier; composer, musician,
author and satirist Peter Shickele, and influential performing arts executive
Janice Price. The jury chair was Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee
Paul Hoffert, founding member of the band Lighthouse, established jazz
recording artist, author and Internet guru.
    Dr. Abreu will receive a cash award of $50,000 and the opportunity to
name an exceptional young musician, in any discipline, from anywhere in the
world to receive the $10,000 City of Toronto - Glenn Gould International
Protégé Prize in Music. Previous Laureates are the esteemed artists Sir André
Previn (2005); Pierre Boulez (2002); Yo-Yo Ma (1999); Toru Takemitsu (1996);
Oscar Peterson C.C. (1993); Lord Yehudi Menuhin (1990), and R. Murray Schafer
(1987). Previous Protégé winners are Roman Patkolo (2005); Jean-Guihen Queyras
(2002); Wu Man (1999); Tan Dun (1996), and Benny Green (1993).
    Jury Chair Paul Hoffert noted, "The jury was unanimous in its decision.
We considered Glenn Gould's enormous impact on broadening audiences for music,
transcending political boundaries, and achieving the highest level of
excellence using innovative and sometimes controversial approaches.
    Dr. José Antonio Abreu is an exemplar of those ideals. He devised "El
Sistema," the National System of Children and Youth Orchestras of Venezuela
that comprises more than 100,000 young musicians, most of whom would not
otherwise be able to play an instrument, collaborate with their peers in an
artistic endeavour, and earn the self-confidence that comes from achieving a
difficult result with the application of hard work and talent. His unique
contribution to the arts has withstood ten changes of governments ranging from
the far right to the far left, all of which acknowledged and supported his
musical and social objectives.
    The jewels that have been produced from El Sistema's raw materials
include the internationally acclaimed Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of
Venezuela and Gustavo Dudamel, its charismatic 27 year old conductor, who has
been named conductor-designate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic."
    In 1975, Abreu began the work for which he is most famous: founding the
Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Youth Orchestra
(NSYO). The success of the NSYO led to the establishment of youth orchestras
in other Venezuelan states, and eventually to the development of the National
System of Youth and Child Orchestras of Venezuela, under the auspices of a
state foundation (FESNOJIV) popularly known as "El Sistema." This system now
involves 110,000 Venezuelans, grouped in 120 youth orchestras, 60 children's
orchestras, and a network of choirs, with musical training starting from age
2. The orchestras are based on 75 "cells" around every province of the
country; there are also workshops in which children learn to build and repair
instruments, special music-therapy programs for children with disabilities or
learning difficulties, and specialist centres or institutes for phonology,
audiovisuals, and higher musical education.
    Explicitly oriented toward lower-income children, "El Sistema" has been
described as "a social movement of massive dimensions, that works using music
as the instrument that makes the social integration of different Venezuelan
population groups possible," and it has been credited with improving the lives
of scores of young people who might otherwise have been drawn into lives of
crime and drug abuse. The program has, for instance, taken on and
rehabilitated abandoned children. The orchestras have had a substantial social
impact in the communities in which they are active. Studies have also shown
that the young people involved in the orchestras also perform better in other
areas of academic and social life.
    Dr. Abreu's unique system of musical education and awakening has
attracted much international notice and acclaim-and has inspired similar
initiatives in other Latin American and Caribbean countries. The Venezuelan
National Symphony Children's Orchestra excited much admiration in Europe in
1998, with a tour through France and Italy, and again in 2000, when it
performed around Germany.
    The Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra has recently been celebrated
internationally in performances under the baton of the young conductor Gustavo
Dudamel, who has been the orchestra's artistic director since 1999. The
orchestra and Dudamel have made some acclaimed recordings-most recently,
symphonies by Beethoven and Mahler for Deutsche Grammophon. In 2007, the
orchestra made much-heralded debuts at the Proms in London (a concert
broadcast live on BBC TV) and at Carnegie Hall in New York. To date the most
visible and admired product of "El Sistema," Dudamel will become music
director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2009. Appointed as Special
Ambassador for the development of a Global Network of Youth and Children
orchestras and choirs by UNESCO in 1995, he is also a special representative
for UNESCO's "World Movement of Youth and Children Orchestras and Choirs."
    "El Sistema" has recently been the subject of acclaimed international
media attention, including an admiring profile in the New York Times Magazine
and a story on 60 Minutes, and it was recently the subject of the documentary
film Tocar y Luchar (To Play and to Struggle).
    The Laureate and Protégé will be honoured with their awards in Toronto at
a gala reception later this year.

    About the Glenn Gould Foundation
    Established in 1983 in Toronto, the Glenn Gould Foundation's mission is
to extend awareness of the legacy of Glenn Gould as an extraordinary musician,
communicator, and Canadian, and to advance his visionary and innovative ideas
into the future.
    Among the Foundation's earliest projects was the creation of the Glenn
Gould Prize. Awarded every three years, the prize Laureate is selected by an
international jury of the world's most distinguished musicians, journalists,
arts patrons, and music aficionados. In 1993, the Foundation expanded the
Glenn Gould Prize to include the City of Toronto Glenn Gould International
Protege Prize in Music.
    The Protégé, selected by the Glenn Gould Laureate, is an outstanding
musical artist who shows the promise in his/her career that was shown by the
young Glenn Gould.
    The Foundation encourages others to develop projects concerning Gould and
the field of music and communication. It has been associated with numerous
broadcasts, publications, exhibitions, and conferences internationally. Some
of the projects in which the Foundation is currently involved include:
bringing attention to piano prodigy Marika Bournaki in her Carnegie Hall
debut; providing support and liaison for Being Glenn Gould, the weeklong film
festival at Berlin's historic Babylon Theatre; The Glenn Gould's Film Festival
in Moscow; three Glenn Gould concert tributes in Buenos Aires; Hermes Paris'
Glenn Gould installation at the Pompidou Centre; screenings of Mostly Mozart
at Lincoln Centre and the yearlong exhibition of Glenn Gould: Sounds of Genius
at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa among many others.

For further information:

For further information: Naomi Strasser, Aerial Communications Group,
(416) 787-6577, naomi@aerialpr.com

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