About the Matching Prize Recipient

In addition to the Notre Dame Prize itself, another $15,000 is awarded to a Latin American charitable organization recommended by the laureate, thus advancing the work the Prize honors.

Upon the recommendation of Maestro Abreu, this year’s matching prize will be donated to the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs of Venezuela, known as “El Sistema,” which he founded in 1975 to systematize music education and promote the practice of music as a means of social organization and community development.

Going far beyond the artistic and cultural benefits of music, El Sistema provides a route out of poverty and crime to underprivileged Venezuelan youth by instilling values of discipline, self-worth, community, and hope for a better future.

The organization’s motto, “To Play and To Fight,” characterizes the young musicians’ firmness of purpose and perseverant spirit. They learn the importance of both collective experience and individual effort in playing music, which becomes a tool to overcome adversity and social inequality.

Supported by eight successive Venezuelan governments through its governing body, the Simón Bolívar Music Foundation, El Sistema is a vast network of schools, orchestras and choirs that currently serves over 300,000 students across Venezuela.

Its graduates include Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Diego Matheuz, principal conductor of Venice’s Teatro la Fenice, and Christian Vásquez, chief conductor of Norway’s Stavanger Symphony Orchestra.  

El Sistema’s success in Venezuela has led to the replication Maestro Abreu’s unique model of music education for social change in more than 25 countries around the world.