About Us

Galilee Chamber Orchestra

Founded by Polyphony Education in 2012, the Galilee Chamber Orchestra broke ground as the first professional orchestra composed of both Arab and Jewish musicians in Israel. Initially the ensemble included only three Arab musicians; now, ten years later, as a result of Polyphony’s educational efforts, the 35-member orchestra boasts equal numbers of both Jewish and Arab musicians. The Orchestra enjoys an international reputation and performs in major festivals and venues in Israel and abroad.  

Led by pianist and conductor Saleem Ashkar, the Orchestra brings together musicians from all over Israel from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Nazareth. Combining members of Israel’s leading orchestras and exceptional young musicians from Polyphony’s Conservatory and seminar, the Orchestra ensures a high level of performance and provides a fresh and unique energy to its audience. 

The Galilee Chamber Orchestra’s impact extends throughout Israel, bringing classical music to students and communities in peripheral regions. The Orchestra and its members play a major role in Polyphony’s education programs in kindergartens and schools, annually providing hundreds of explained concerts, both orchestral and chamber music. 

Moved by the orchestra’s top-notch musicianship and vision for Arab and Jewish partnership and equality, world-famous musicians such as cellist Lynn Harrell and pianist Sir András Schiff have performed with the Orchestra in Israel.  

In the summer of 2019, the Galilee Chamber Orchestra reached a significant milestone with its first European tour. The Orchestra travelled to Germany for performances at the Konzerthaus Berlin, the Christuskirche Hannover, the Osnabrück Music Festival, and at the Rheingau Festival. In March 2022 the Orchestra is embarking on its first North American tour, originally scheduled for Dec 2020, with performances at Carnegie Hall, NYC, and Koerner Hall, Toronto.

Following its debut at the Israeli Opera House in June 2021, the Galilee Chamber Orchestra is launching in 2022 an opera-concert series in partnership with the Israeli Opera. The Orchestra also has residency at the Annual Liturgical Music festival in Nazareth.

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