Harvard School of Public Health awards “Q” prize to Dr. José Antonio Abreu and Maestro Gustavo Dudamel for leadership of Venezuelan program that uses classical music to transform the lives of at-risk youth

For immediate release: Monday, November 10, 2008

Boston, MA — The Harvard School of Public Health announced today that the second-annual Q Prize, named in honor of music impresario Quincy Jones, will be awarded to Maestro Gustavo Dudamel, the internationally celebrated conductor, and to his mentor, Dr. José Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema, a path-breaking Venezuelan program that uses intensive instruction in classical music to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of at-risk youth.  Maestro Dudamel emerged from El Sistema, and first gained widespread acclaim as the conductor of El Sistema’s celebrated Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra.

The Q Prize will be presented at a gala in NYC hosted by Audemars Piguet.

“El Sistema has demonstrated the incredible power of music as a public health intervention that fosters healthy child development,” said Barry R. Bloom, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health.  Studies have documented the impact of El Sistema in preventing youth violence and drug abuse among young people living in impoverished circumstances.

Quincy Jones commented, “I am honored to join with Harvard in celebrating this year’s Q Prize winners, Maestro Dudamel and his mentor Dr. Abreu, for their dedicated work on behalf of the children of Venezuela through El Sistema.  Throughout my life I have been able to witness firsthand the power of music to bring forth change in the lives of those less fortunate, and the work of El Sistema is a glowing example of the magnitude of that power around the world.”

The Q Prize was created to recognize and promote extraordinary leadership on behalf of children. “The Q Prize extends Quincy Jones’ and his foundation’s humanitarian work by serving as a catalyst to improve the health and well-being of children around the world,” said Jay Winsten, an associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health. “In so doing, the Q Prize promotes the qualities of creativity, passion and social commitment that epitomize the life of Quincy Jones.”

A groundswell of interest in implementing El Sistema in the U.S. gained tremendous momentum when CBS’ 60 Minutes spotlighted the program earlier this year. 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon will show excerpts from the broadcast at the Nov. 13 gala, and Tony Woodcock, president of New England Conservatory, will report on next steps in bringing the program to the U.S.

Plans will be announced at the gala for a national Music Summit of music industry and nonprofit leaders to catalyze the movement to provide music education as a public health intervention for at-risk youth.  The Summit, convened by Quincy Jones and the Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health Communication, will be held on NYC on April 29, 2009 at Time Warner’s corporate headquarters.

“I eagerly anticipate furthering the message of music as a tool for bringing young people together in a common cause for mankind when we convene the National Music Summit next year in New York. Music is the only thing that engages the left and right brain simultaneously – it’s soul and science,” Jones said.

The Nov. 13 gala is underwritten by Audemars Piguet. The Q Prize is supported by a gift from Time Warner, and by individual donations.

El Sistema

El Sistema has been hailed as a social movement of massive dimensions. Over 300,000 Venezuelan youth, mostly from impoverished backgrounds, receive intensive instruction in classical music through the program’s network of youth orchestras, music centers and workshops, with profound, life-changing results.

El Sistema’s premier orchestra, the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, has toured the world under the baton of its acclaimed conductor Gustavo Dudamel, recently named music director-designate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Quincy Jones and Harvard

Quincy Jones has a longstanding relationship with Harvard:  In 1997, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music and delivered the Senior Class Day Address during Commencement; in 2000, Harvard established the Quincy Jones Professorship of African-American Music.

Since 1994, Quincy Jones has collaborated with the Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health Communication, directed by Jay Winsten, on national media campaigns to prevent youth violence and recruit volunteer mentors for at-risk youth.  In 2007, Quincy Jones was named the School’s Mentor of the Year.

For more information:
Todd Datz


Harvard School of Public Health ( https://www.hsph.harvard.edu ) is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit:https://www.hsph.harvard.edu