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Isang Yun Peace Foundation honors El Sistema founder

Oct. 11, 2020 - 17:19 By Im Eun-byel
Jose Antonio Abreu (Tongyeong International Music Foundation)
Celebrating the legacy of iconic composer Yun I-sang (1917-1995), the Isang Yun Peace Foundation honored Venezuelan conductor, pianist and economist Jose Antonio Abreu (1939-2018) with the 2020 Isang Yun Prize.

Since 2007, the Isang Yun Peace Foundation has recognized musicians who carried on Yun’s legacy. According to the foundation, the prize celebrates artists who are actively involved in society and who have made contributions to “peace, reconciliation and harmony.”

In 1975 Abreu founded El Sistema, a social action-oriented music education program that offers children and young people a chance to participate in musical ensembles. The prize money will be used to support El Sistema projects, which are administered by UNESCO in New York. 

"Through the achievements of Abreu, we realized what is possible when music becomes the base of people and part of daily life. (Thanks to El Sistema) children, parents and even politicians could have new hope for the future. The vision of Jose Antonio Abreu inspires all of us," the committee said.

Along with the Isang Yun Prize, the UNESCO Creative City of Music Awards were established this year to recognize the achievements of artists around the world and support creative ideas and innovative projects during the challenging year of the pandemic. Tongyeong was named UNESCO Creative City of Music in 2015.

There are five awardees: Hans-Christian Euler & Eurasia Festival; Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra; Luigi Piovano with Aldo Orvieto; Semanas Musicales de Frutillar; and Traiect.

The jury consisted of Chairman Florian Riem, CEO of the Tongyeong International Music Foundation; Douglas Gautier, CEO of the Adelaide Festival Centre; Tisa Ho, executive director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival; composer Toshio Hosokawa; Edicson Ruiz, member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Marla Stukenberg, director of Goethe Institute East Asia; and Yun I-sang’s daughter Djong Yun, a painter.

An awards ceremony was held Sunday near the Demilitarized Zone. Awardees could not attend the ceremony due to the overseas travel ban stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Im Eun-byel (