Nazareth Musicians Promote Peace
A Palestinian-Israeli quintet and their passionate conductor are gaining international attention for their community-crossing work.
Music can often be seen as a source of unity, harmony, and joy, and in an era where unity, harmony and joy is in low supply all around them, Nazareth’s Polyphony Conservatory is doing vital work. 35-year old Nabeel Aboud-Ashkar is something of an undiscovered maestro and he directs his quintet, made up of his older brother (a pianist), a Palestinian Arab violinist, and a further three Israeli violinists, with a fervour and passion that temporarily erases any idea of an international divide. In his practice space, the only driving force is music, and his infectious passion for it. “The first time I stood in front of Jewish kids, coaching a quartet, it was one of the most unusual moments of my life,” he says of the early days of his project. However, he goes on to say that "after an hour or two, it felt like any other rehearsal."
At a time where Arab/Israeli divide is at a high, his work is very important. It shows that after the propaganda, the scaremongering, the political posturing, there are still human beings separated by international boundaries. "This is the worst I can recall in terms of the level of anger and hatred I've witnessed," he says. "But despite what parents were hearing on the news about 'riots' in Nazareth, the students still came. We continued working together."