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 Music Appreciation

Alhan is a musical education curriculum for kindergarten up to 6th-grade students. The program includes carefully chosen repertoire appropriate for both Arab and Jewish schools and includes music from both communities, plus classical music to introduce children to a multiplicity of cultures. The curriculum is developed in partnership with the Institute for Social Integration at Bar Ilan University.

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Educators from Jewish and Arab schools receive Alhan training together from Bar Ilan-Polyphony coaches and learn to integrate the program into their ongoing core classroom curriculum. Live chamber ensembles composed of both Jewish and Arab musicians perform during the school year for individual classrooms. The program concludes with a series of Explained Concerts that enable the students from both communities to jointly experience live symphonic performances of the music they have studied.

 

In addition to a partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Education, Polyphony has developed strategic relationships with regional and local councils, highlights being the Zevulon Regional Council and the Haifa Municipality, which has led to the integration of 80 kindergartens and four elementary schools in the program.

 

Since 2012, Alhan has grown to reach over 10,000 students annually, provides ongoing training and support for over 200 teachers, and is operating in 37 different locations from Acre in the North to Rahat in the South.

Watch a concert moment here.

Alhan Locations, 2018 

Alhan Participants in 2018

Polyphony Conservatory

The Polyphony Conservatory in Nazareth is the first of its kind serving the Arab community in Israel and provides classical music instruction to approximately 150 of the country’s most gifted youth. The Conservatory has succeeded in bringing classical music to the Arab community at elevated standards and plays an important role in the integration of classical music in the local Arab cultural scene. The Conservatory is a key part of Polyphony’s programs and supports the Scholar-in-Residence Seminars and the Galilee Chamber Orchestra.

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Conservatory faculty is composed of twenty-three leading young Israeli musicians and teachers who continue to travel to Nazareth from Tel Aviv, Givatayim, Ramat Gan, Haifa, Hadera, and Jerusalem to give lessons each week. Many faculty members were trained in Europe and the U.S. and have also played in renowned orchestras.

 

Offering the highest level of instruction to auditioned students, the Conservatory has nurtured many talented musicians. Two Polyphony graduates were the first Arab musicians to ever win the prestigious Israeli Paul Ben Haim Competition. Many more have gone on to music academies such as Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, Bard College in New York, and the Tel Aviv Buchman-Mehta Conservatory. Coming full circle, some graduates have even returned to the Conservatory as teachers. Other Polyphony graduates have pursued advanced studies in non-musical subjects, such as the Technion University, Israel’s leading college for the sciences, and Tel Aviv University.

 

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

Scholar-in-Residence Seminar

A masterclass on music and its role in society, the Seminars are emerging as one of Israel’s finest musical training programs. An equal cohort of young Arab and Jewish musicians from all parts of the country come together twice a year for three days of intensive study, individual lessons, studio classes, chamber groups, and orchestral playing at the Keshet Eilon Music Center.

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Top musicians of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and leading European ensembles give students daily individual lessons and chamber group instruction. All musicians come together in a large string orchestra for the final cumulative concert. Guest musicians also give masterclasses and performances to the participants. Together, students, instructors, and lecturers build a collegial community through genuine relationship-building and a sense of belonging to a greater Israeli and global culture.


Students also form quartets and chamber ensembles that tour the United States and Europe and act as cultural ambassadors, giving concerts and sharing their experiences as musicians.

 

Since its founding in 2012, Polyphony has conducted 10 seminars, each with 35-60 participants. In the last three years, partnerships with the Keshet Eilon Music Center and the Minerva Institute have broadened participation and strengthened the Polyphony community.

Scholar-in-Residence Seminar 2018

Hometowns of last year’s participants

Youth Orchestra and Polyphony Quartet

The Polyphony Youth Orchestra and Polyphony Quartet are active performing ensembles comprised of Scholar-in-Residence Seminar participants, advanced Conservatory students, and now includes students from the Jerusalem Music Academy of Music and Dance. The ensembles tour Israeli, Europe, and the United States and provide young, advanced musicians the opportunity to perform and travel together. The mixed ensembles also participate in question and answer sessions with audiences and share their experiences as musicians and Israeli citizens.

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The various combinations of performers in the Youth Orchestra and the Quartet demonstrate Polyphony’s commitment to a shared Israeli society and serve as a model for cooperation based on musical collaboration, cultural exchange, and dialogue and partnership.

 

Polyphony’s musicians have performed at, among others:

 

  • Élysée Palace. Paris, July 2015
  • Clinton Global Initiative. New York City, September 2015
  • The McCain Institute. Sedona, AZ, April 2018
  • Festival Suoni dal Golfo. Lerici, Italy, August 2018
  • Ghent Flanders Festival. Ghent, Belgium, September 2018
  • 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:

 

  • Ian Anderson, lead singer and flutist of Jethro Tull
  • Noa (Achinoam Nini), Israeli singer
  • Sir András Schiff, pianist
  • Saleem Ashkar, pianist
  • David Broza, singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • Renée Fleming, lyric opera soprano, music ambassador
  • Lynn Harrell, cellist
  • Maxim Vengerov, violinist

Galilee Chamber Orchestra

The Galilee Chamber Orchestra broke ground as the first professional orchestra composed of Arab and Jewish musicians in Israel. When it started in 2012, the ensemble had only three Arab musicians. Now more than six years later, the 35-musician orchestra is composed of equal Jewish and Arab members, and enjoys an international reputation and performance schedule of six major concerts a year, plus numerous performances as a part of Polyphony’s in-school music education program, Alhan.

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Moved by Polyphony’s top-notch musicianship and vision for Arab and Jewish equality, world-famous musicians from cellist Lynn Harrell to pianist Sir András Schiff perform with the Orchestra in Israel.

 

The Galilee Orchestra’s impact extends throughout Israeli society: its performances bring classical music to peripheral communities, enriches those communities with burgeoning cultural scenes, and serves as a model for cooperation and cultural exchange to all of its audiences.

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