In Memoriam: José Antonio Abreu, May 7 1939 – March 24 2018

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We bring you the sad news of the passing of Maestro Abreu on March 24th. Many of you will know him from the world famous El Sistema project he crated initially in Venezuela.

Maestro Abreu was a pivotal agent of social and artistic reform in Venezuela and throughout the world.  He was the first global leader to powerfully fuse the realms of arts education, child poverty, and social change.  Along with all of that—and just as important, he would have said—he was a teacher.

Maestro Abreu leaves an astonishing legacy—a network of programs, not only in Venezuela but also around the world, that serve close to a million children.  We who lead, teach in, and support those programs have the good fortune not only to carry on that legacy but also to explore, refine, expand and enrich it.

Fortunately, the Maestro was profoundly quotable, so we’ll always have his words to inspire us.

“Poverty is not just the lack of a roof or bread.  It is also a spiritual lack – a loneliness and lack of recognition.  The vicious cycle of poverty can be broken when a child poor in material possessions acquires spiritual wealth through music.”

“Poverty generates anonymity… An orchestra means joy, motivation, teamwork, success.  Music creates happiness and hope in a community.”

“I’m convinced that after death we continue to work no matter where we end up in: that in heaven there is work to do, that God’s house is not one of idleness, we work with him, we are associated with him.”

“To sing and to play together means to intimately coexist. Music is immensely important in the awakening of sensibility and in the forging of values.”