A youth music education program in Venezuela that has earned praise around the world recently won Spain’s Prince of Asturias Prize.
Since it began in 1975, “El Sistema” has taught 600,000 young people from poor areas of Venezuela to play classical music. It is still picking up steam: 275,000 children are currently enrolled in a network of 120 orchestras nation-wide. The program has also produced international stars such as the conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who heads the top-notch Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra. Their new album is called Fiesta.
“El Sistema” is profiled in UK newspaper The Telegraph. It turns out that founder José Antonio Abreu is seriously in demand right now: Scotland has caught the music bug, and will consult him on a similar initiative. Not to be outdone, the city of Baltimore, Maryland also plans to launch a music program for kids that takes its cue from the successful Venezuelan model. Read about it in the Baltimore Sun.