Salzburg – The Austrian government and the Salzburg Music Festival paid homage to the creator of Venezuela's National System of Youth and Children's Orchestras, Jose Antonio Abreu, whose work has become "one of the world's cultural treasures."
Abreu - 2008 winner of Spain's Prince of Asturias prize - received the Austrian Cross of Honor for Arts and Sciences, First Class, as the founder of the "System," which since 1975 has provided free musical education for hundreds of thousands of young people, most of them from disadvantaged families.
The dream of this man that music might conquer poverty constitutes "one of humanity's cultural treasures" and is an authentic "humanistic revolution," Austrian Culture Minister Claudia Schmied said.
"I believe that the greatest joy we can give to the 'maestro' is to announce to him that in 2013 we have scheduled to bring the complete idea of the System to the Salzburg Festival to show the transforming power of music," the president of the prestigious artistic event, Helga Rabl-Stadler, announced during the ceremony.
Also attending the event, besides outstanding personalities from Austria's artistic and cultural sphere, was conductor Gustavo Dudamel, the director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the best-known example of the talent that can emerge from the System.
"I'm part of the family" of the System, Dudamel told Efe, going on to praise the "effort and the passion of a visionary like maestro Abreu."