Article 2 of the Constitution of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation reads as follows: Within the context of the cultural traditions of Europe in general and the ideas of Erasmus in particular, the aim of the Foundation is to enhance the position of the humanities, social sciences and the arts. The emphasis is on tolerance, cultural pluralism and non-dogmatic, critical thinking. The Foundation tries to achieve this aim through the award of prizes and by other means. A money prize is awarded under the name of Erasmus Prize.
In accordance with this article, the Board of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation has decided to award the Erasmus Prize for the year 2010 to dr José Antonio Abreu.
The Prize is awarded to dr Abreu on the following grounds:
Mr Abreu has had the vision to address problems of social misery and poverty by giving children a musical instrument and teaching them to play together in a symphony orchestra.
This social project has shown that by playing in an orchestra, children develop skills and competences that serve them in their personal development and in finding a firm place in society, giving them an alternative to crime, drugs and hopelessness.
With untiring zeal Mr Abreu has pursued the realization of his mission, and in a period of 35 years set up a system of youth orchestras – an immensely successful project, of gigantic proportions, a source of inspiration and an example for many similar initiatives across the world.
The El Sistema project cannot only boast great social achievements, it is also a driving force in the appreciation and innovation of classical music. The future of classical music, thanks to the efforts of Maestro Abreu, can be seen in Venezuela’s system of youth orchestras.