Our Programs - Polyphony
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Our Programs


The social and cultural divides in Israel are great and growing. Arabs and Jews interact infrequently. Neighborhoods are segregated, with Arab communities often underserved and isolated. People speak different languages—Arabic and Hebrew.


Transformation begins when people have new experiences and are invited to perform together in new ways, building beyond the divides that separate them.


With our holistic, multi-tiered approach, music becomes the medium through which Arab and Jewish children come together in Israel to build an inclusive community.

Alhan students, September 2016.

Alhan Music Appreciation

Leading in equal music education


Before Polyphony, music education in Arab schools was almost non-existent. Today, through our Alhan program, over 9,000 Arab and Jewish elementary schoolchildren a year are introduced to the rhythms, melodies and joys of classical music.

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They are led in these activities by over 350 teachers from Arab schools and Jewish schools who have trained together (a rare occurrence in Israel) in Polyphony’s unique approach to music engagement and appreciation. The curriculum and coursework is designed in partnership with the prestigious Levinsky International College of Education.


Every spring, the program concludes with dozens of Explained Concerts performed by a full orchestra in auditoriums holding 400-500 students. Their joy is infectious, as the room of secular and religious Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze and Bedouin children and Arab and Jewish teachers and musicians, transforms into an ensemble of music appreciators.


In 2016, the Israeli Ministry of Education invited the Alhan program into new areas in the north and south. By expanding and implementing this program in collaboration with local communities at the grassroots level, Polyphony is closing the music education gap between Arab and Jewish schools. It is also providing a life-changing cosmopolitan experience for Arab children, who often have never travelled by bus out of their village, attended an event with a mixed audience, or experienced a live, full orchestral performance.

Watch a concert moment here.


Polyphony Alhan Music Appreciation Program 2015-2016

2017 Alhan map


Music education par excellence


The Polyphony Conservatory in Nazareth and its sister Conservatory in Jaffa are the only two classical music conservatories based in the Arab community in Israel. They offer classical music education to 160 talented and motivated Arab and Jewish children ages 4-18.

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Leading the effort are teachers who go above and beyond, some traveling two hours round trip to conduct lessons, theory classes and chamber music groups.


Very early on, our young people form mixed quartets and learn how to build ensembles in which everyone contributes to creating one unified sound.


Known for offering the highest level of instruction, our Conservatories have nurtured many talented musicians. The first two Arab musicians to ever win the prestigious Israeli Paul Ben Haim Competition were Polyphony graduates. Several more have gone on to world-class music academies and professional careers.


Several globally renowned musicians have given masterclasses and workshops in Nazareth, including:


  • Andras Schiff, classical pianist
  • Branford Marsalis, jazz saxophonist and bandleader
  • Lynn Harrell, cellist
  • Mickey Hart, percussionist, Grateful Dead
  • Radek Baborák, Horn player
  • Yair Dalal, violinist and oud player

Conservatories 2016-2017

Towns and villages of students and teachers

Microsoft Word - Map_ 2017 Conservatories Program.docx

Scholar-in-Residence Seminar

A masterclass on music and its role in society


Our Scholar-in-Residence Seminar is emerging as one of Israel’s finest musical training programs for young people. An equal cohort of 30-50 Arab and Jewish teenaged musicians come together for two four-day immersion experiences.

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These include intensive musical training as well as discussions about music, citizenship and civil society, with professors from leading universities in Israel and abroad. The young people are encouraged to think of how a particular piece of music speaks to them as performers, and how it is relevant to them as maturing adolescents in a diverse and conflicted society.


Sectional rehearsals are led by top musicians of the Israel and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. Other collaborators have included Michael Steinberg, President of the American Academy in Berlin (formerly Vice Provost at Brown University).


The students, instructors and lecturers together build a shared ensemble fostered by genuine relationship-building and a sense of belonging in the greater Israeli and global cultural community.

Polyphony Scholar-in-Residence Seminars 2016

Scholar in Residence map

Youth Orchestra

Performing and growing together


The Polyphony Youth Orchestra is made up of the participants of the Scholar-in-Residence Seminars—half are Arab, half are Jewish. They perform as a full orchestra to audiences in Israel, demonstrating that Jewish and Arab youth can work and play together collaboratively. It is our hope to raise additional funds to expand performances to towns and villages where mixed gatherings are uncommon.

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Our quartets and chamber orchestras have toured the United States and Europe, performing and sharing their experiences as musicians and Israeli citizens at, among others:


  • Clinton Global Initiative, New York
  • Élysée Palace, Paris
  • Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.
  • Lincoln Center, New York
  • LA Theater Center, Los Angeles
  • Temple Emanuel Stern Chapel, Dallas
  • La Foce, Tuscany


Several professional musicians have performed in concert or in session with our young people, including:


  • Saleem Ashkar, pianist
  • David Broza, singer-songwriter
  • Renée Fleming, lyric opera soprano, music ambassador
  • Lynn Harrell, cellist
  • Noa (Achinoam Nini), singer
  • Maxim Vengerov, violinist

Galilee Chamber Orchestra

A cultural milestone in the Galilee.


Established in 2012 by Polyphony, the Galilee Chamber Orchestra broke ground as the first professional orchestra in the region, and now is a leadership force in the development of cultural life in Nazareth.

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Made up of 35 Arab and Jewish musicians, the Orchestra performs six major concerts a year, including several at Nazareth Industrial Park. Moved by Polyphony’s top-notch musicianship and vision for Arab and Jewish equality, world-famous musicians from Sir Andras Schiff to David Broza have performed and conducted with the Orchestra in Israel.


In addition to public concerts, the orchestra plays over two dozen Explained Concerts to more than 9,000 elementary school children across Israel as part of Polyphony’s Alhan program.

Help us empower more young people through music. Donate.