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Dr. José Antonio Abreu to receive the Frankfurt Music Prize 2009

Dr. José Antonio Abreu to receive the Frankfurt Music Prize 2009

Presentation on the eve of the Musikmesse
Abreu honoured for his work with young people

The Frankfurt Music Prize 2009 goes to the Venezuelan composer, musician and economist Dr. José Antonio Abreu for his work with young people in Venezuela. Abreu’s life and work is closely linked with the Sistema de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela, which he founded to promote music making among the children and young people of poor families.
The Frankfurt Music Prize will be presented to him on the eve of the Musikmesse, 31 March 2009. Worth € 15,000, the Prize is donated by the Federal Association of German Musical Instrument Manufacturers (Bundesverband der Deutschen Musikinstrumenten-Hersteller e. V. - BDMH) and Messe Frankfurt GmbH. Petra Roth, Mayor of the City of Frankfurt, will present the prize at the 'Römer', Frankfurt's Town Hall. The speech in honour of Dr. José Antonio Abreu will be given by Thomas Rietschel, President of the Academy for Music and the Performing Arts in Frankfurt am Main. An ensemble from Venezuela, specially flown in for the ceremony, will play in honour of the latest holder of the Frankfurt Music Prize.
Dr. José Antonio Abreu studied at Caracas Music Academy. Parallel to this, he took a course of study in economics at the University of Caracas. Since then, he has employed both of these skills for the benefit of music and his country. Against the background of poverty in Venezuela, he wanted to give children and young people from the poor areas, the ‘Barrios’, a chance and new perspectives via music and active music making. Himself a musician and conductor, Abreu founded the ‘Sinfónica de la Juventud Venezolana Simón Bolívar’, an orchestra of young amateur musicians, in 1975. Simultaneously, he was able to persuade the government to support his orchestra and his idea for promoting music among young people on a national basis, which resulted in the founding of his ‘Sistema’, the National System of Children’s and Young People’s Orchestras in Venezuela.
The ‘Sistema de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela’ concentrates on children and young people from poor families. In music schools spread across the whole country, children of two and older can learn to play musical instruments. Open six days a week, the music schools are located where the children live, in many cases in the dingy ‘Barrios’. There, children can try out and learn instruments free of charge. All children are placed in an orchestra or ensemble. To date, 250,000 Venezuelan children have taken part in this programme. Today, there are around 120 youth orchestras, 60 children’s orchestras and numerous choirs.
In addition to musical instruction, the ‘Sistema’ attaches particular significance to social aspects. Children can enjoy a safe and non-violent environment and are supported by the music teachers if they have insufficient food or clothing or are subject to violence in the family. Courses are also offered on making and repairing instruments. Moreover, the ‘Sistema’ includes special music-therapy programmes for handicapped children, as well as academic centres for acoustics, musicology and other advanced training courses.
The orchestra and schools have not only had an extremely positive impact in the Venezuelan towns and villages where they are located. They have also brought about a cultural renaissance throughout Venezuela, the like of which is to be seen in virtually no other South American country. Studies underscore the positive impact of the programme on children and young people, as well as on their development in school, at work and in their social environment.
José Antonio Abreu’s work clearly illustrates the importance of a national musical education and his ‘Sistema’ provides unequivocal evidence of the social necessity for a scheme of this kind. Thus, he meets the requirements for the award of the Frankfurt Music Prize in a particularly impressive way.
The Frankfurt Music Prize was founded in 1980 and is awarded annually on the occasion of the international Musikmesse in Frankfurt by the Trustees of the Frankfurt Music Prize Foundation (Kuratorium Stiftung Frankfurter Musikpreis zur Internationalen Musikmesse Frankfurt) to personalities from the world of music for special achievements in the fields of interpretation, composition, musicology and teaching. Worth € 15,000, the Prize is donated by the Federal Association of German Musical Instrument Manu¬facturers (Bundesverband der Deutschen Musikinstrumenten-Hersteller e. V. - BDMH) and Messe Frankfurt GmbH. The prize is presented each year on the eve of the International Musikmesse.
The Frankfurt Music Prize is awarded annually in alternate years in the fields of classical and popular music (jazz, rock, pop). In 2010, it will once again be given for achievements in the field of popular music. The Board of Trustees of the Frankfurt Music Prize Foundation consists of three permanent members and up to four elected members:
• The Mayor of the City of Frankfurt am Main as Chairperson
• The Chairperson of the Federal Association of German Musical Instrument Manufacturers (Bundesverband der Deutschen Musikinstrumenten-Hersteller e.V. - BDMH) as Deputy Chairperson
• The Chairperson of the Board of Management of Messe Frankfurt GmbH as Deputy Chairperson
• Two representatives of the German Music Council (Deutscher Musikrat) and
• Two representatives from German music academies.

Winners of the Frankfurter Music Prize:
1982 Gidon Kremer (violinist)
1983 Edgar Krapp (organist)
1984 Alfred Brendel (pianist)
1985 Brigitte Fassbaender (opera singer)
1986 Albert Mangelsdorff (jazz trombonist)
1987 Carl Dahlhaus (musicologist)
1988 Heinz Holliger (oboist
1989 Ludwig Güttler (trumpeter)
1990 Chick Corea (jazz pianist)
1991 Aribert Reimann (composer)
1992 Georg Solti (conductor)
1993 Harry Kupfer (director)
1994 Brian Eno (musician and sound artist)
1995 Tabea Zimmermann (violist)
1996 Wolfgang Niedecken (singer and songwriter)
1997 Prof. Hans Zender (composer and conductor)
1998 Peter Herbolzheimer (arranger, interpreter and composer)
1999 Prof. Michael Gielen (conductor and composer)
2000 Klaus Doldinger (saxophonist)
2001 Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (singer)
2002 No Prize awarded
2003 Walter Levin (violinist & professor of chamber music)
2004 Udo Lindenberg (rock musician)
2005 György Ligeti (composer)
2006 Peter Gabriel (pop / rock musician)
2007 Peter Eötvös (conductor and composer)
2008 Paquito D’Rivera (saxophonist, clarinettist, composer)
2009 Dr. José Antonio Abreu (conductor, composer, mentor)

Musikmesse is the world's biggest international trade fair for musical instruments, music software & computer hardware, sheet music and accessories. Around 75,000 trade visitors from the musical-instrument sector, manufacturers, dealers, professional and amateur musicians made their way to Frankfurt for the last event in March 2008. Musikmesse is complemented perfectly by the Prolight + Sound trade fair, which is held at Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre at the same time. Additionally, Musikmesse visitors have free entry to the Prolight + Sound trade fair for audio, lighting, event and communication technology.

Andreas Höflich
B74 Marketingkommunikation
Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH
Ludwig-Erhard-Anlage 1
60327 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Tel. +49 (0)69 7575-6866
Fax +49 (0)69 7575-6099

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