Founder of El Sistema, Dr. José Antonio Abreu to receive Eighth Glenn Gould Prize on October 26

Orchestra will be conducted by The City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize Winner, Gustavo Dudamel, conductor designate of The Los Angeles Philharmonic in his Toronto debut

TORONTO - Called “the most successful youth music project in the world,” and “awe inspiring,” Venezuela’s Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra will make its Canadian debut conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, the wunderkind maestro honoured by Time Magazine as one of its ‘100 Most Influential People of 2009’ on October 26, 2009 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. The event kicks off The Glenn Gould Foundation’s weeklong Celebration of Music, and residency by the orchestra in Toronto; created to honour the Eighth Glenn Gould Prize Laureate, Dr. José Antonio Abreu, founder of Venezuela’s famed system of music education, El Sistema.

The Glenn Gould Prize, Canada’s most exclusive arts award, will be bestowed on Dr. Abreu in recognition of his exceptional lifelong contribution to music communication and cultural humanitarianism. The gala evening will feature an extraordinary musical programme performed by the 250-member orchestra itself and special guests. Dr. Abreu will also award The City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize to Maestro Dudamel, representing all members of El Sistema at that time.

“This extraordinary week of music is a gift from Dr. Abreu to the citizens of Canada,” said Glenn Morley, President of The Glenn Gould Foundation. “His incredible vision for a society that uses music to give all its citizens an opportunity to thrive is a model for us all. We are thrilled and honoured to introduce him to Canadians and bestow upon him the well-deserved Glenn Gould Prize in front of the orchestra that embodies the realization of his hard work and commitment. “

The Glenn Gould Foundation is mounting this ambitious project in the hope that Abreu’s example and success of his movement will inspire Canadian policymakers, parents and youth to embrace the principles of El Sistema and ensure that music and arts education are integral to every young person’s upbringing. To that end, the foundation is sponsoring the production of a teacher’s study guide about El Sistema that will be made available to schools across Canada.

The week’s events include high school tours, a performance for over 13,000 students from across Ontario, a Music Education Symposium, a performance of the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble, comprised of star players from the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and community outreach events designed to reach at-risk youth through music.

The schedule of events is as follows:

Monday, October 26

Glenn Gould Prize Gala
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
8 p.m.
Featuring Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel
Attended by Dr. José Antonio Abreu

Tuesday, October 27

High School Tour and Performances
Q&A with members of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Various High Schools throughout Toronto

Community Outreach Tour
Q&A with members of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Community agencies that serve at-risk youth with music education

Integral House Reception
Exclusive reception at Toronto architectural landmark Integral House
Introducing community leaders to the idea of El Sistema

Wednesday, October 28

The Promise of Music Symposium Day co-presented by The Glenn Gould Foundation and The Royal Conservatory of Music in Association with The SOCAN Foundation
Telus Centre at The Royal Conservatory of Music
All day
Keynote speaker: Dr. José Antonio Abreu
Open rehearsal with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
For a student audience
Details to follow

Venezuelan Brass Ensemble
60-member all-star virtuosos brass ensemble
Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory of Music
8 p.m.

Thursday, October 29
Youth Concert for over 13,000 students from across Ontario
Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Air Canada Centre
12:00 p.m.

One of the week’s highlights – The Promise of Music is a day of ideas, symposia and round tables that will see international experts, educators, scientists, economists, social theorists and musical professionals make presentations and create a dialogue focused on the impacts and implications of music education. Some of the topics include early childhood development, the latest discoveries in neuroplasticity, socialization and creativity; youth crime prevention and diversion; economic competitiveness and building a creative community of the future; potential of music education for aboriginal communities; charter education, social inclusiveness, youth engagement promotion of democratic and social participation and music as a source of social cohesion; and the Canadian potential of El Sistema.

On October 29, over 13,000 elementary, and secondary students will enjoy a concert performed by the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela at the Air Canada Centre. Students from as far away as Ottawa and Sudbury have confirmed attendance.

El Sistema, officially Fundación del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela, (FESNOJIV), founded by Dr. Abreu, is Venezuela’s national system of free music education bringing the transformative power of music and learning to children. Targeting at-risk youth from ages two to 20, over 1 million children have been transformed by El Sistema. Over the past 34 years, Dr. Abreu has navigated the program through eight different administrations, flourishing under myriad political agendas. Combining political shrewdness with religious devotion, Abreu has dedicated himself to a utopian dream in which an orchestra represents the ideal society – “the only community that comes together with the fundamental objective of agreeing with itself” - and the sooner a child is nurtured in that environment the better for all.

He has received numerous recognitions for his pioneering work in music, most recently the prestigious Polar Music Prize, given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. The section committee said the following upon announcement, “José Antonio Abreu’s successful creation has promoted traditional values, like respect, fellowship and humanity. His achievement shows us what is possible when music is made the common ground and thereby part of people’s everyday lives. Simultaneously, a new hope for the future has been given children and parents, as well as politicians. The vision of José Antonio Abreu serves as a model to us all.”

El Sistema has been adopted in 20 countries including the United States, Great Britain and Scotland.

Dr. Abreu and El Sistema have been featured on CBS 60 Minutes, CNN, The New York Times, Time of London, The Independent, The Economist, The Washington Post and The Guardian among others. The orchestra has been ranked one of the top five orchestras in the world by the Times of London and its dynamic and unconventional performing style has caused a sensation among audiences wherever it has appeared, from Carnegie Hall to Beijing.

The Glenn Gould Foundation gratefully acknowledges the support of its sponsors for making this week possible:

Presenting Sponsor of the Glenn Gould Celebration of Music Week: Power Corporation of Canada, Investors Group, Great-West Life, London Life, Canada Life, Mackenzie Investments
Gala Concert Sponsor: The Bay
Youth Concert at the Air Canada Centre: Rogers Communication
Community Outreach Sponsor: Ada Slaight
The Promise of Music Sponsors: The SOCAN Foundation and RBC Financial Group
Official Hotel: The Westin Harbour Castle
Musical Instrument Sponsor: Yamaha
FESNOKIJ Sponsor : Hilti Foundation (Liechtenstein)
Design and Print Sponsor: Sutton Communications
The Glenn Gould Foundation thanks Dr. James Stewart for making Integral House available.
The Glenn Gould Foundation also acknowledges the generous co-operation of the Four Seasons Centre - Canadian Opera Company - Alexander Neef, General Director.

About The Glenn Gould Foundation
The Glenn Gould Foundation is a registered charitable organization whose mission is to pay tribute to the legacy of Glenn Gould by celebrating brilliance, unlocking creativity and transforming lives through the power of music and art.  Established in 1983 in Toronto, the Foundation awards the prestigious Glenn Gould Prize and The City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize once every three years.  Laureates of the prize are among the most distinguished artists of our time and are charged with selecting the recipient of The City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize, which is awarded to an outstanding young musician with the promise of an exceptional lifetime contribution to the art. The Glenn Gould Foundation (Inc.) was established in 2009 in the United States, with a parallel mission.  For more information about The Glenn Gould Foundation and to support its mission, please visit

For more information please contact
Brian Levine
Executive Director