The Nobel Prizes are the world's most prestigious awards recognising the highest achievements in Science and Culture. The annual awarding of the prizes in Stockholm is crowned by a special gala concert uniting cultures and disciplines through music. This past December, the concert was conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, whose passionate advocacy for music's power to unite, heal and inspire, mirrors Alfred Nobel's humanistic ideals. For the occasion, Dudamel and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic performed a musical program highlighting the relationship between music and science: Mozart's “Jupiter” Symphony and Richard Strauss' epic tone poem, Also Sprach Zarathustra.
While in Stockholm during Nobel Week, Dudamel gave a speech on the Future of the Arts and Education at the Nobel Museum, participated in a panel discussion on the Arts and Sciences with 2004 Nobel Physics Laureate Frank Wilczek, and delivered an address to the distinguished guests of the Nobel concert, which included current and past Nobel Laureates, their Majesties, King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, and a global audience of hundreds of thousands watching live on television and on the internet.
An excerpt from Dudamel's remarks:
Alfred Nobel created these prizes for scientific and literary disciplines in recognition of achievements, as he wrote, “For the greatest benefit to mankind.”
Too often, Art and Science are pitted against each other in a competition for resources. But that, I believe, is a mistake. We should learn to understand these disciplines as related ventures in our quest to better understand and experience our world.
Many of our children will better humanity through science, and all must strengthen themselves, learning the limits of their bodies through sports. These are all important skills. But the arts are equally vital. Art is the education of the soul. Without art, the human spirit dulls and we lose touch with the powers of creativity and imagination that will unlock the discoveries and innovations of tomorrow.
The next transformative breakthroughs in technology, in medicine, in economics, in the environmental sciences, and of course in the arts, will depend on creative leaps of imagination taking humans to fresh dimensions of thought. Art unlocks the imagination, encourages creative risk and exploratory self-expression - the tools without which we would not have anything - from polio vaccines to artificial intelligence.
That is where the worlds of science and art meet, and why I believe the Nobel Prize, as a global symbol of human ingenuity and innovation, can also be a symbol to leaders and the young people of the world of the benefits of investing in the arts – for ourselves, for our future, and, in the spirit of Alfred Nobel, “for the greatest benefit to human kind.”
In cooperation with the Hilti Foundation and El Sistema Sweden, the Gustavo Dudamel Foundation was proud to support a Nobel Day of Music on Friday, December 8th. As part of the occasion, musical performances were given in communities across Sweden from morning to night, culminating in the Nobel Prize Concert that evening. Further highlighting Dudamel's commitment to creativity, learning and social engagement, the Dudamel Foundation and its partners also gathered an ensemble of young people in Stockholm representing five continents and over a dozen countries to form an “Orchestra of the Future”.
Dudamel invited professional colleagues from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, and the Gothenburg Symphony to Stockholm to coach and mentor these young musicians from around the world and rehearsed the ensemble himself intensively. The “Orchestra of the Future” performed Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings and an Adagio from Star Wars: the Force Awakens, arranged by John Williams for the occasion, at a special gala reception honouring the Nobel Prizes and the 2017 Nobel Laureates.
The following day, the “Orchestra of the Future” visited the El Sistema Sweden facility in Södertälje, an underserved town outside Stockholm. A group of young people from Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Bolivia, Portugal and Greenland, among others, coming to Södertälje, performing for and engaging with young people in this diverse, disadvantaged community was a deeply moving experience capping off an unforgettable week highlighting music's unique power to build bridges and promote peace, diversity, and understanding.