Philadelphia Orchestra promises to work with ‘Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens’

Philadelphia Orchestra promises to work with ‘Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens’


norman lebrecht

May 07, 2018

Today’s statement follows pro-Palestinian protests about the orchestra’s inaugural trip to Israel.



(Philadelphia, May 7, 2018)—Using music to bring people and cultures together, musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra will participate in special residency activities in Israel, June 3-7, 2018, as part of the Orchestra’s 2018 Tour of Europe and Israel. The activities—ranging from master classes with students to chamber performances for Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens—are an integral part of the Orchestra’s commitment to cultural diplomacy, and will provide opportunities for musicians to connect with the people of Israel in meaningful ways. Musicians of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will also participate, joining a June 4 side-by-side concert with young musicians at Tel Aviv University.

“These residency activities have become a hallmark of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s tours, using music to bring people and cultures together in ways that would not otherwise take place,” said Orchestra Interim Co-President Ryan Fleur. “Through these unique activities, we have the opportunity to interact with Israeli citizens, including students and musicians, and to unite people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs through the universal language of music. We look forward to listening and learning from the people of Israel and using the power of music to engender dialogue and to express our hope for unity and tranquility in the region.”

Residency activities include:

Sunday, June 3: Performance at Oasis of Peace

An Orchestra ensemble will perform for the residents of Oasis of Peace, a community jointly established by Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. The Oasis of Peace community, which is not affiliated with any political party or movement, is based on the concepts of mutual acceptance, respect, and cooperation.

Monday, June 4: Side-by-side concert at Tel Aviv University

Approximately 15 Philadelphia Orchestra musicians and a complement of musicians of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will collaborate with students of the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music Symphony Orchestra and members of the Outstanding Musicians of the IDF Program, sitting side-by-side with them for a performance. The concert is free to the public and will take place at 1:00 PM in Tel Aviv University’s Smolarz Auditorium.

Monday, June 4: Master classes at Tel Aviv University

Philadelphia Orchestra musicians will give master classes to students of the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music. Founded in 2005 as a unique partnership between Tel Aviv University and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music trains outstanding young musicians and prepares them for professional careers.


Monday, June 4: Arts Administration and Cultural Philanthropy Panel Discussions at the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv

In partnership with the Culture and Art Institutions Forum in Israel, a pair of panel discussions at the Rothschild Center of the Eretz Israel Museum will offer an exchange of ideas about arts administration (2:30 PM) and cultural philanthropy (4:00 PM) in Israel and the United States. These conversations are free and open to the public, including arts administrators, philanthropists, and students.

Tuesday, June 5: Master classes at Jerusalem Conservatory Hassadna

Philadelphia Orchestra musicians will give master classes to students of the Jerusalem Conservatory Hassadna, one of Israel’s premier institutes of music education for young people ages three to 18. The Conservatory strives to provide every student with musical instruction of the highest caliber while ensuring that every child longing to experience the gift of music has access to this life-changing opportunity.

Tuesday, June 5: Master classes at the Jerusalem Music Centre

Philadelphia Orchestra musicians will give master classes to students of the Young Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at the Jerusalem Music Centre. Founded in 1973 by violinist Isaac Stern and Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, the Centre finds and nurtures the finest musical talents from across Israel. As a global center for musical excellence, it has hosted many pre-eminent musicians of the 20th century, including Arthur Rubinstein, Pablo Casals, Leonard Bernstein, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Alfred Brendel.

Wednesday, June 6: Master classes at the Israel Conservatory of Music

Philadelphia Orchestra musicians will give master classes to members of the Outstanding Musicians of the IDF Program. The program enables young soldiers with musical talent to continue developing their skills during army service.

Wednesday, June 6: Performance at the Jeanne and Bennet Tanenbaum Conservatory of Music

An Orchestra ensemble will perform at 5:00 PM for the public and for residents of the Jeanne and Bennet Tanenbaum Conservatory of Music in Netivot, Israel. The Sdot Negev Regional Council, which includes Netivot, is home to more than 40,000 residents, including many immigrants from North Africa, the former Soviet Union, and Ethiopia.

Thursday, June 7: Performance at the Lod Music School for the Gifted and Excellent

An Orchestra ensemble will perform for the children of the Lod Youth Concert Band. Established 40 years ago, the Lod Youth Concert Band is part of the Lod Music School for the Gifted and Excellent, operated by the Ministry of Education in Israel. The school’s music activities are for all segments of Lod’s population—Arabs, Christians, and Jews—as well as for newcomers from all over the world. Children between the ages of six and 18 study at the school, and graduates have gone on to enjoy professional careers with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, and other orchestras around the world.


  • Barry Guerrero says:

    No objections?

  • Brian says:

    You wonder why they didn’t announce all of this in the first place — it would have prevented a lot of bad press for them, and made a more convincing statement about their cultural diplomacy aim from the start.

  • Sue says:

    What’s not to live with the Philadelphia Orchestra?

  • Curious says:

    Two of Philadelphia’s events are with an “IDF program.” IDF, one expects, are the Israel Defense Forces, that country’s military. How often — if Slipped Disc readers know — have touring orchestras recently visited programs or facilities (music-oriented or otherwise) associated with the host country’s military? I honestly don’t know the answer.

    • James says:

      The IDF is in many ways a microcosm of Israeli society. Given that (almost) everyone has to serve, the IDF provides units for musicians (and indeed other important callings, such as doctors, dentists etc) where they can develop their art. Many great musicians have come through such units, and i.m.o. the infusing of the arts into the sensibility of a military is no bad thing. It also emphasises the importance of the arts in that society.

  • ketzel says:

    The protest was just the usual anti-semitic BDS thuggery against anyone who goes to Israel for any reason. Even though the above material is informative and positive, it shouldn’t be necessary. Here is my statement: FU, nazis. People have the right to play music anywhere they want.

    • Harold Lewis says:

      Quite right.

    • Mark says:

      Absolutely correct,

    • Patrick Gillot says:


    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Perhaps, but can’t you see that “FU, nazis” is a bit over the top. Aren’t people still permitted to express a dissenting opinion? And if not, wouldn’t that make one’s intolerance to any dissention, in fact, more nazi like?

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        One can’t edit what they just posted here, so let me say that I somewhat take back what I said, given that I now understand the circumstances more fully. I can understand the strong emotional response. But I do also believe that not everyone who has a dissenting opinion is automatically a nazi.

  • Philly Phan says:

    These protesters were haters of Jews and Judaism. When you show up to protest on Passover when an orchestra performs the most famous piece of classical music in Hebrew by America’s most famous Jewish composer (they did the Bernstein Chichester Psalms that day) they automatically lose any credibility for caring solely about the plight of the Palestinians, they are purely the latest manifestation of Anti-Judaism.
    I proudly went outside and started singing Hatikvah outside at these hateful ridiculous individuals.
    Bravo to the orchestra for putting together such a wonderful series of days for Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs to see the orchestra, but these protesters were haters of Jews.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Yes, I can buy that. And I am also a huge Philly fan. I listen regularly to the Philadelphia Orchestra broadcasts on Sirius XM satellite radio. They sound fabulous!

  • Dick Fitzgerald says:

    Everybody knows the tour is submission to the orchestra’s Zionist donors. Visit apartheid Israel, whose justice (sic.) minister says Palestinian children as “little snakes” that must be exterminated.

  • Pedro says:

    Just off the Brussels concert ( the first of the tour ) and, as somewhat expected, it was interrupted in the middle of the first movement of the Brahms first piano concerto by some people who began shouting and displaying a banner. YNS quickly sent Hélène Grimaud and the orchestra offstage. After several minutes and apologies from the Bozar director the performance started where it has stopped. I suspect that things like those will occur in the other concerts of the tour. The performance of the concerto was very powerful from the orchestra side while Grimaud conception was more elegant. I have heard better pianists in the part ( Zimerman, Lupu … ) but there was a lot of excitement tonight, though not for the usual reasons. I couldn’t attend the second half.