Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! It is very much evident that you all know who I am. For those who do not, I am Lennar Acosta, a graduate of Jose Antonio Abreu’s music program, a valuable part of the Caracas Youth Orchestra, a student at the Simon Bolivar Conservatory, and a teacher of the many young who aspire to be clarinetists in the future. You are all gathered here today to hear about my life-story, so, without further ado, allow me to begin.
The people who have researched about me, and who have gone in-depth trying to do so, would know about my past. I was a miserable person, a victim of the circumstances, who had no choice but to retaliate with robbery and drugs, as a way to take out that unhappiness; I even ended up getting very bad knife-marks on my face, as a result of this bad-mood-inflicting criminal life. It all seemed as if this was the right path to go on, the one that would lead me to success.
I was wrong, however, and was arrested nine times for it, until the authorities declared it too unsafe to release me a ninth time, after which they sent me to a state-home for law-breaking, abused and abandoned children. It seemed as though all hope had been lost, that there was no way to get out of this horrifically depressive slump. Who could help me? Who could find the cure to my cancer-like depression? Who could get me to gain a better reputation not just in the eyes of society, but in the eyes of my heart-broken parents? Who?
My short time at the state-home was when that hope arrived, in the form of Jose Antonio Abreu, one of the most influential people in the country today, my teacher, my mentor, my role-model and much, much more. Unlike everyone else, he saw a great deal of potential in me, and thought that I could accomplish great things in life. So, he offered to take me, as well as the other children, into his state-funded classical music program, which he calls a social service.
At first, when I was introduced to all these musical instruments at the age of fifteen, I was quite puzzled. Befuddled, even. What was I supposed to do with all these? Were they meant to improve me in any way? But, then, afterwards, I slowly started getting better at this craft, and even received a great deal of affection, to add onto that. I was genuinely enjoying myself, and was driven to prove myself as one of the top musicians in the country. I even cut all ties with my former criminal gang, and am now the musician you see before you today.
What of the achievements of this music program? There are several of them, in fact; about four-hundred-thousand of the children in Venezuela have passed it, and are now pursuing prestigious careers in music-making. It has spurred no less than twenty-two similar programs in other Latin-American countries, and not only that, but thanks to its own self and outside help, it also has a budget of twenty-five million dollars, and eighty-five percent of the students are of low-income. With such great achievements, it seems that nothing can bring it down.
Most importantly, however, other children with bad lives, beside myself, have also greatly benefitted from the program. For example, Wilfrido Galarraga, once an everyday boy who was content with routine, is now twenty-one, and has also been enrolled into the National Youth Orchestra. When his neighbors normally used to get disturbed by his playing music with laundry, they now ask him to play at several events. Via persuasion and understanding, he even got his high-school-flunking brother to pass high-school, and also pursue a career in music.
As I have nothing left to say, and my speech comes to a close, I want to dedicate all my humble gratitude to Mr. Jose Antonio Abreu, my spiritual grandfather, ‘El Maestro’, and much, much more. Without him, me – as well as many other children – would not be what they are today. If he was intending to find a method alternative of sports, to help out all those who are poor and suffering in the world, then he is certainly making an impact. Thank you, and good night!