José Antonio Abreu (1939 - 2018), Venezuela

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José Antonio Abreu is an economist, politician and pianist who founded the social program El Sistema, a national network of youth orchestras and choirs in Venezuela. Thirty-seven years ago, Abreu started to use music to address the country’s problems with drugs, rising crime, gangs and especially the number of children who had become stuck in the hopeless cycle of poverty. He set up music education centres throughout Venezuela, helping to foster not only an appreciation for classical music, but also values such as pride, devotion and a sense of belonging within participating children. An estimated 300,000 children have been through the program and formed several hundred ensembles. The Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences presented Abreu with a Latin Grammy Award in 2009.

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