“Peace through Music,” says a popular bumper sticker. Well, who knows—it certainly can’t hurt. Music is of course an art of collaboration: an art that requires, above all, the ability to listen deeply and to respond with empathy and sensitivity, with the goal of achieving an end product filled with positive meaning: a viable formula for any kind of cooperation. A number of groups have been formed specifically with a view to bringing musicians together from diverse backgrounds in cultures at serious odds with one another. Among them are the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (under the baton of maestro Daniel Barenboim) and Heartbeat: The Israeli-Palestinian Youth Music Movement. The Jewish-Arab Youth Orchestra is a project of the Jerusalem Foundation, under the auspices of the Louis and Tillie Alpert Youth Music Center. And Polyphony, headquartered in Nazareth, is another common ground for Arab and Jewish classical musicians.
Things are opening up in Israel among artists: people are listening closely to one another. When Michael Tilson Thomas conducted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in recent years, he said that he was excited to encounter so many new young musicians in the orchestra. Their performance of Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 was fluid and powerful, the musicians sharply attuned to their conductor. The mutual respect was obvious, and thrilling for the audience to see and hear.
Adding to the artistic culture of Israel is the venerable Perlman Music Program—a U.S.-based mentoring project for talented young classical musicians, under the direction of violinist Itzhak Perlman. Since 2014 the PMP has been hosting residencies and offering master classes in Tel Aviv for talented young musicians.