Monday, February 13, 2012

De Musica Ligera: Nobel for “El Sistema”?

The latest edition of the Grammy Awards on Sunday night will most likely be remembered for Adele winning six trophies as well as the tributes to the recently deceased Whitney Houston. In terms of Latino music, one of the event’s biggest surprises was Mana beating out Calle 13 to win in the Latin Pop, Rock or Urban Album category. Yet an even greater surprise could occur later this year thanks to another Grammy winner: Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

Dudamel may’ve won his Grammy with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for their recording of Brahms' Fourth Symphony, but since 1999 he has served as the music director of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. This orchestra is an important product of El Sistema, a novel music education program run in Venezuela. Founded in 1975 by former economist José Antonio Abreu, the El Sistema network has helped teach classical music to at least 250,000 youth including children from impoverished economic backgrounds. The program has received government support since 1977 and has been critically acclaimed around the world.

In 2008 Abreu won both the Glenn Gould Prize and the Prince of Asturias Award for he Arts. He could earn a greater recognition later this year after representatives of the International Hagiography Academy nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. “Master Abreu has met all the conditions because he made music the language of peace and a symbol of Venezuela,” proclaimed the Academy’s president, Monsignor Rafael Febres Cordero, last month.

Should José Antonio Abreu become the first Latin American in two decades to win the Nobel Peace Prize? Perhaps the music from the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra will help you decide:

Video Source – YouTube via TEDtalksDirector

Online Sources- Los Angeles Times, The Onion A.V. Club, The Telegraph,

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