Tag Archives: TED Prize 2009


How many inspirational people have you come across in your life? How many have succeeded in realising what, to most, must have seemed the impossible? Were the vision, passion and necessary humility obvious when they spoke? These thoughts ran through my head when I watched José Antonio Abreu , founder of Venezuela’s music education programme, El Sistema, and one of the winners of the TED Prize 2009.

Here he movingly explains the philosophy behind, and the history of, El Sistema as a prelude to announcing his TED wish.

There is also gripping performance by the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra (national high-school-age orchestra) conducted by one of El Sistema’s meteoric stars, Gustavo Dudamel.

Further links:

interview on EncontrArte website (in Spanish)

acceptance speech upon winning the Right Livelihood Award (in English)


Guess who said this…

Music has to be recognized as an…agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest values – solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion. And it has the ability to unite an entire community and to express sublime feelings.”

These are the words of José Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistemathe now famous system of music education in Venezuela. It was announced today that he is one of three winners of the TED Prize 2009.

At one end of the scale young children escape from a world of drugs and guns into the more nurturing environment of “102 youth orchestras, 55 children’s orchestras, and 270 music centers.” At the other emerges the Orquesta Juvenil Simón Bolívar de Venezuela whose performance and reception at the 2007 Proms remains one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen. You can get some idea of the atmosphere in this video. During the interval the conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, spoke in terms of unconfined respect and admiration for maestro Abreu in an interview with Verity Sharp.

Inspired by the Venezuelan model, a Scottish version is underway. You can read about Sistema Scotland here.