"Mother Teresa of Calcutta insisted on something that always impressed me: the most miserable and tragic thing about poverty is not the lack of bread or roof, but the feeling of being no-one -- the feeling of not being anyone, the lack of identification, the lack of public esteem. That's why the child's development in the orchestra and the choir provides him with a noble identity and makes him a role model for his family and community. It makes him a better student at school because it inspires in him a sense of responsibility, perseverance and punctuality that will greatly help him at school."
Jose Antonio Abreu is the charismatic founder of a youth orchestra system that has transformed thousands of kids' lives in Venezuela. An economist, musician, and reformer, Jose founded El Sistema ("the system") in 1975 to help Venezuelan kids take part in classical music. After 30 years, El Sistema is a nationwide organization of 102 youth orchestras, 55 children's orchestras, and 270 music centers -- and close to 250,000 young musicians. El Sistema uses music education to help kids from impoverished circumstances achieve their full potential and learn values that favor their growth. The talented musicians have become a source of national pride. Several El Sistema students have gone on to major international careers, including Gustavo Dudamel, currently music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the bassist Edicson Ruiz, who at 17 became the youngest musician ever to join the Berlin Philharmonic.
There is a simple concept behind Abreu's work: for him an orchestra is first and foremost about togetherness, a place where children learn to listen to each other and to respect one another. (from TED website)
"Music has to be recognized as an agent of social development, in the highest sense because it transmits the highest values—solidarity, harmony and mutual compassion. It has the ability to unite an entire community and to express sublime feelings.” - Gustavo Dudamel