Inter-faith concert dazzles Greenwich

Last Thursday, an audience at the First Presbyterian Church in Greenwich was treated to a performance by the Polyphony Youth Orchestra, a group comprised of Israel’s most talented young musicians.

But this group had something more than music on their minds. The orchestra is made up of a mix of Arab and Jewish youth from 10- to 20-years-old, trying to put forth a vision of “a just and equal future in their home country.”

The Polyphony Youth Orchestra’s U.S. tour is sponsored by The Polyphony Foundation, co-founded in 2011 by New York resident Craig Cogut and renowned concert violinist Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar, who also serves as the director of Polyphony education. The Polyphony Foundation was established to bring equal opportunity to Arab youth in Israel and help bridge the divide between the future leaders of Israel’s Arab and Jewish communities by using music to transcend historic cultural and social boundaries.

“We have Arab children and Jewish children living in Nazareth, in Rahat, who think they are part of two different worlds. Polyphony brings them together to create a new place,” Mr. Abboud-Ashkar said. “They work together, they play together, and they create an environment that is literally defined by harmony. It’s a space, not a territory. It’s a space they can carry with them forever.”

Mr. Cogut added, “Polyphony empowers the youth from a disadvantaged community, brings them together with youthful members of their own community and the Israeli Jewish community to create memorably beautiful music. Polyphony’s grassroots musical cooperation provides a model to help bridge the divides that separates us.”

The Greenwich event packed hundreds in attendance at the church and was sponsored by more than 20 multi-faith organizations including Christ Church Greenwich, Congregation Shir Ami, First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, Greenwich Center for Hope and Renewal, Greenwich Chaplaincy Services, Greenwich Fellowship of Clergy, Greenwich Reform Synagogue, JCC Greenwich, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Michael The Archangel Parish, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Temple Sholom and the YWCA of Greenwich.

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