Youth orchestra takes Asturias prize

22nd May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Venezuelan organisation scoops 2008 arts award for work with young people.

22 May 2008

MADRID - The National Network of Youth and Children's Orchestras of Venezuela was announced as the winner of the 2008 Prince of Asturias Arts Prize on Wednesday. The jury, gathered in the Asturian capital of Oviedo, gave the organisation the accolade for "having combined, in one project, the highest artistic qualities and a profound ethical conviction, while working toward the improvement of social reality".

The network, which was created 30 years ago by the composer and economist José Antonio Abreu, aims to transform the lives of young people through their participation in one of a total of 120 orchestras.

"The system created by the maestro Abreu has trained conductors and performers of the highest level, based on an audacious belief in the educational value of music for the dignity of human beings," said the president of the jury, José Lladó Fernández-Urrutia.

So far, more than 400,000 children have benefited from the programme, while a quarter of a million children and young adults aged between two and 25 are currently involved.

The organisation also runs workshops for young people, in which they get the chance to learn how to repair musical instruments, as well as offering programs for disabled children or those with learning difficulties.

One such programme is the Coro de Manos Blancas, or White Hands Choir, which is made up entirely of deaf children.

The organisation also provides technical and organizational support for all public schools that request it, and makes use of neighbourhood and parental associations to provide rehearsal rooms as well as the necessary musical instruments.

The awarding of the arts prize is the first of the eight Prince of Asturias Awards that will be dished out this year, all of which carry a EUR 50,000 prize and a reproduction of a statuette designed by Joan Miró.

A total of 28 entries for the arts prize were received from 15 different countries. Entrants included the musicians Leonard Cohen and Ennio Morricone, the chef Ferran Adrià, the theatrical director Peter Brook and the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Previous winners of the arts prize include Pedro Almodóvar, Woody Allen, Paul Auster and Bob Dylan.

The Prince of Asturias Awards were founded in 1981 with the aim of recognising achievements in the fields of science, humanities and public affairs.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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