Galilee Chamber Orchestra

© Stefan Cohen

Founded by Polyphony Education, the Galilee Chamber Orchestra broke ground as the first orchestra in Israel composed of Arab and Jewish musicians. The orchestra, led by pianist and conductor Saleem Abboud Ashkar, integrates exceptional young musicians with leading members of Israeli orchestras to provide a fresh sound and a unique energy to its audience. The Orchestra enjoys an international reputation and has hosted world-famous musicians such as cellist Lynn Harrell, pianist Sir András Schiff and Violinist Joshua Bell. In the summer of 2019, the Galilee Chamber Orchestra reached a significant milestone with its first European tour, traveling to Germany for its Young Euro Classic debut at the Konzerthaus Berlin and performances at the Christuskirche Hannover, the Morgenland Music Festival in Osnabrück, and at the Rheingau Music Festival. In March 2022, the Orchestra’s North American debut included performances at the Royal Academy Hall, Toronto and Carnegie Hall in New York. This is its second performance at Young Euro Classic following 2019.

August 12, 2024 8 PM

Konzerthaus Berlin

Saleem Abboud Ashkar

© Luidmila Jermies

Born in Nazareth, living in Berlin: those are the coordinates defining many of Saleem Ashkar’s activities. Early in life, the Israeli with Christian-Arab roots found mentors in Daniel Barenboim and Zubin Mehta: at the age of 17, he made his debut as a pianist with the Israel Philharmonic, at 22 he was conducted by Barenboim in his Carnegie Hall debut in New York. Since then, Saleem Ashkar has performed with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Filarmonica della Scala, with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and the London Symphony Orchestra. In recent years, one artistic focus is on the performance of the complete 32 Piano Sonatas by Beethoven, a feat the 48-year-old has already accomplished in Berlin and Israel, Prague and Duisburg. The London label Decca Records recently released the sixth CD in a planned complete recording of Beethoven’s piano works. Saleem Abboud Ashkar’s  intense efforts to support young Israeli and Palestinian musicians in his homeland manifests mainly in his work with the Galilee Chamber Orchestra, whose director he is.


Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider

© Lars Gundersen

Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider is one of those rare musicians who has “transitioned uncommonly well to the podium, bringing his violinist’s insight and profound musicality” ( The 2023/24 season marks his fourth as Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon. Szeps-Znaider regularly features as guest conductor with some of the world’s leading orchestras, e.g. the Cleveland Orchestra, NDR Elbphilharmonie, Bamberg Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Being a violin virtuoso, Szeps-Znaider maintains his reputation as one of the world’s leading exponents of the instrument. This season, he makes appearances with the Danish National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic as well as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Singapore Symphony Orchestra, where he will combine both his playing and conducting abilities. He will also be making his highly anticipated return to London’s Wigmore Hall, performing with pianist and long-time collaborator Saleem Ashkar. Szeps-Znaider plays the “Kreisler” Guarnerius del Gesù of 1741 on extended loan to him by The Royal Danish Theatre through the generosity of the VELUX Foundations, the Villum Fonden and the Knud Højgaard Foundation.



“nocturnal whispers” (2024)


Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D-major Op. 61 (1806)


Symphony No. 3 in A-minor “Scottish” Op. 56 (1829-1831)

About the concert

The very idea behind this orchestra is more than remarkable, as it brings together Israeli musicians from Jewish and Arabic backgrounds to share their music stands. Moreover, this collaboration works excellently, despite the current exceptional situation in Israel. Thus, the Young Euro Classic audience may look forward – as it did in 2019 – to a very special evening with the Galilee Chamber Orchestra! The high quality of this chamber orchestra is ensured by Saleem Abboud Ashkar, who passes his rich musical experience as a pianist and conductor to the young orchestra, once again building bridges from Israel to Germany and Austria: in Leipzig, Mendelssohn completed his atmospheric Symphony No. 3 in A-minor, the “Scottish”; in Vienna, Beethoven composed his only Violin Concerto. On this evening, the world-class violinist Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider will interpret it. The third work on the programme offers a current counterpoint: straddling the worlds of classical and Arabic music, the Israeli-Arab composer Nizar Elkhater will be represented by his orchestral work nocturnal whisperings.

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