Posted by on May 01, 2013 in Blog

On Monday evening, May 6th, AAI will host a reception and performance by an outstanding group of Arab Israeli and Jewish Israeli musicians involved with The Polyphony Foundation. Four of Polyphony’s musicians will be here in our office to perform and to share their stories--and how their program is helping to bridge the cultural divide between Arabs and Jews. More than just an orchestra, The Polyphony Foundation supports a multi-tiered grassroots programming structure that reaches over 2,000 Arab and Jewish youth in Israel, and enhances the educational and personal development of students using music as the common medium. It enhances a love of classical music, provides cultural training, helps close the education gap within Israeli society, and creates common ground for Jewish and Arab youngsters to work and play together.

AAI is delighted to welcome Polyphony’s inspiring message and music as part of a concert tour that will bring them to Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York. The event will be in our offices from 6:00-7:30pm. Refreshments will be provided. If you are interested in attending this event please RSVP to Hilary Robertson Collado at or 202-429-9210.


More About Polyphony

In 2006, Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, Arab Israeli violin virtuoso, returned to his hometown Nazareth to establish a small music conservatory with a grant from the Barenboim-Said Foundation (Maestro Daniel Barenboim and Dr. Edward Said). Known as the Barenboim-Said Conservatory, this music school was the first in the Arab community in Israel to reach international standards. In 2011 Mr. Abboud Ashkar co-founded The Polyphony Foundation in the USA and Polyphony Education in Israel, and the Barenboim-Said Conservatory became The Polyphony Conservatory. A second Polyphony conservatory was established in Jaffa in 2012.  

Mr. Abboud Ashkar’s goal for Polyphony was to focus the program not on the broader Israeli and Palestinian populations, but on the smaller population of Arabs within Israel. “The work that’s being done to build bridges between Israeli and Palestinian youth is terrific,” says Abboud-Ashkar. “But while we try to forge ties between two nations, we should look also to our own neighborhoods. We have Arab children and Jewish children living in Nazareth, in Rahat, who think they are part of two different worlds. Polyphony brings them together to create a new place. They work together, they play together, and they create an environment that is literally defined by harmony. It’s a space, not a territory. It’s a space they can carry with them forever.”

The Polyphony Foundation is a US-based 501(c)3 organization that believes that music has a unique power to transcend cultural and social boundaries, educating both performer and audience in the art of listening and communicating.

To further our vision of equal opportunity and harmony, The Polyphony Foundation financially supports the work of Polyphony Education CIC and Orpheus, Nazareth-based non-profits that provide opportunities for music education and other innovative education programs. 

With emphasis on work in Arab schools, these programs help close the education gap within Israeli society while creating common ground for Jewish and Arab youth to come together around classical music.

These multi-tiered programs we support begin with broad outreach to elementary school children and enable the musical and personal development of the students up to performance in a professional orchestra.

These programs include:

  • Alhan: Music Appreciation
  • Conservatories: Nazareth and Jaffa
  • Youth Orchestra, Youth Ensembles, Scholar-in-Residence Seminars
  • The Galilee Chamber Orchestra

Each level of programs builds on the previous ones as well as contributing to them through mentoring, performing, and providing role models. As the students advance, the programs increasingly bring together Arab and Jewish students and musicians to learn, experience, and perform together. This interaction helps to bridge the cultural divide between the students, and demonstrates to their communities the rich possibilities for diverse groups to work and create together.

The programs supported by Polyphony Foundation currently reach more than 2,000 Arab and Jewish young people and provide training and employment for over 40 faculty and teachers

The Polyphony Foundation’s Co-founder and Director of Programming, Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar, received the Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts in 2012 for his work in with The Polyphony Foundation.


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