Seoul Peace Prize

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To receive the Seoul Peace Prize represents much more than an exalted honour for me. It is, above all, a great ethical commitment, one which powerfully beckons my responsibility as a man and as an artist.

I dedicate this prestigious award to all those altruistic music teachers who, with admirable solidarity and strong faith, have tirelessly accompanied me over 4 decades in the founding, construction and development of the National System of Youth and Children Orchestras and Choruses of Venezuela. In the performance of our task, we confirm daily the fundamental importance of values such as cordial friendship, fraternal harmony and peaceful coexistence between men and people.

This values, are an admirable inspiration to the Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation, a Model to the World for its eminent contribution to Society to the Construction of Spirit and Human Development. The Foundation presents itself to us as worthiest messenger of a vast and profound philosophy by virtue of which Peace results the most precious fruit of Justice and, simultaneously the highest purpose of an authentic and modern Education charged with civilizing energy, imbued of its redeeming Mission, in its maximum and optimal expression.

Such formidable contribution as the one made by the Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation, corresponds entirely to the exceptional cooperation that Korea has always provided to the musical youth and children of our country, particularly in the brilliant tenure of His Excellency, Ambassador Soong-chull Schin, whose personal commitment enabled the Venezuelan Orchestra System to reach the highest academic goals and outstanding artistic achievements. In this sense, we must highlight the eminent labor that Korean Maestro Kwak Sung has undertaken for long years in Venezuela. The boon given by Maestro to our young, results even more exceptional when we consider the magnitude and depth of the Venezuelan System of Youth and Children Orchestras and Choirs, which presently incorporates over 370,000 children and youths of medium and low resources throughout all the provinces in our country. Today, more than ever, we are encouraged by the decided purpose of dignifying, through Musical Formation , boys, girls and adolescents who live on the streets; the juvenile and infantile population attending Middle and Elementary Public Schools; the children and adolescents affected by severe physical and mental disabilities; and young inmates of both sexes who acquire the necessary skills to play musical instruments and train their voices in their prisons while they await their re-insertion to the community as music professionals.

Since infancy, I had the opportunity of embracing Musical Vocation, which is why I ardently desired to share it with the largest possible number of Venezuelan youths and children in conditions of marginality and social exclusion. This required me to consecrate all of my existence to the service of Social Justice and strive against Violence through the seeding of Music in a massive social scale. Nothing brightens a child‘s soul with the sight of a wonderful life as Music does, a life illuminated by the Ideal of Beauty and by the portentous presence of Art as a gigantic spiritual energy, indispensable for fecund and ascending concert within the bosom of the Community, as an achievement of a Collective Organization, with Nobility and Perfection enough to transform the entire social body of a Nation into an immense and radiant Orchestra.

In this way, with the steadfast support of some honorable Venezuelan Maestros, and with particular intensity since February 1975, we established the pedagogical social and artistic principle within which daily Orchestral and Choral practice needed to be understood as indispensible complement of Individual Instruction, within the heart of the Student-teacher relationship. Today, El Sistema grows rapidly in Europe and Asia, sprouts in South Africa and illuminates the musical horizon of Australia and New Zealand. The dream of the Project has taken, for those of us who Play, Sing and Strive within it, a colossal span of planetary proportions.

Because of the formidable socio ─ communal impact of the System, in Venezuela we seek to meet with music, not only at concert halls, but also in persons and everyday living, against the perfidious use of leisure, against drugs and violence, thus simultaneously promoting the access of those in need of Aesthetic Formation and to a Life of Art. Material poverty will be vanquished by the sublime Spiritual Richness that grows through and in Music. Social justice and Cultural Justice constitute two aspects of a sole and indissoluble dimension. Universal Peace. To achieve this, nothing more relevant and efficient than infusing within the soul of each Child, since their most tender infancy, with the mystery of sound as a source of joy and hope. To construct inner peace within the heart of men, Music provides colossal and perennial fundaments to the sublime dream of a New World, in which a renovated Musical Art, shines as a worthy beacon of portentous Human Development and a renascent Ethical Conscience. Temple of Beauty and Truth, Paradise of Love and Hope for all children of the World.

I could not end these words without invoking the generous solidarity the Seoul Peace prize Foundation, with the glorious utopia of a Worldwide Youth Musical Movement, bearer of radiant Hope, dawn and sign of an unprecedented Universal Culture of Peace.

Thank you.