Shesh-Besh, The Arab-Jewish Ensemble under the auspices of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, brings together musicians of the IPO with the finest musicians from the Arab community in northern Israel. The ensemble was founded in 2000, by KeyNote in its first year of activity.
Their onstage presence and musicianship reflect their belief that the language of music has the ability to bind hearts and build real bridges between people. Musically, Shesh-Besh creates a unique multi-cultural environment, playing music of the Middle-East, classical music and original compositions.
As part of KeyNote program Shesh-Besh appears regularly in schools both in the intimate setting of the classroom, and in concerts.
In 2003 the IPO commissioned the work “Ode to Happiness” by composer Gil Shochat, to feature Shesh-Besh as a solo ensemble in a series of concerts for 4,000 school children at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv.
Shesh-Besh’s first CD, Collective Memory, was released on July 2007. The CD includes Western and Oriental pieces, music composed by Israeli Arab and Jewish composers, and folk music specially arranged for the ensemble.
In 2007 Shesh-Besh was awarded the European Medal of Honor – The Prize of Tolerance by the European Culture Forum for “their vision and their commitment to the Israeli-Arabic relationship”.
Shesh-Besh regularly tours outside Israel and has performed at the Tanglewood Festival, the JVC Jazz Festival, in Germany, Hungary and Switzerland.
In November 2009 Shesh-Besh played 3 concerts in London, one of them hosted by Prince Philip, the other concert was hosted by Ban Ki-moon and they received a special program at the BBC London, where they played and were interviewed live.
In May 2010 the ensemble performed 7 concerts for schools with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and at the framework of the orchestra's Family Series.
In season 2010-2011 the ensemble performed mainly in concerts overseas: in a festival in Stuttgart, playing and meeting with students from a local high school; a concert tour in the US (April 2011) and a concert tour in Switzerland (May 2011).
In Season 2011-2012 Shesh-Besh will take part in the high school music education program of KeyNote (IPO's program for music education and community outreach), performing with the IPO in special concerts for the students and participating in preparatory sessions in various schools.
Shesh-Besh will also hold a special education program for Arab and Jewish students in Nazareth, Yafia and at the Jezreel Valley region.
In February 2012 the ensemble will travel to Hamburg, Germany to participate in the festival "sounds of Israel", organized by the Elbphilharmonie. In addition to their performances they will also be engaged in educational activity with elementary and high school students.
KulturPreis Europa's Tolerance Award to SheshBesh
The European Tolerance Award for 2007 was granted to the SheshBesh ensemble and KeyNote, the Program for Music Education and Community Outreach of the IPO.
The KulturPreis Europa (European Award for Cultural Achievement) has been awarded for 15 years by the KulturForum Europa to individuals and institutions who have contributed to the development of human rights, law, democracy and intercultural dialogue. Founded in 1992 by the former German Foreign Secretary Mr. Hans Dietrich Genscher, the KulturForum Europa is composed of Europe's leading politicians, scientists, artists and opinion leaders. The KulturPreis Europa includes a special Tolerance Award.
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Ahalan o Saalan
Any Israel Philharmonic youth concert that starts with the Arabic greeting Ahalan o Saalan is a unique event. Not only was the Israel Philharmonic featured, but also the Arab/Jewish Ensemble of the IPO, an opera singer who is as at-home singing Abdul Wahab as she is singing Mozart, and a student Darbukkah Ensemble that had the entire hall clapping and dancing.
KeyNotes East-West concert featured Western classical music on eastern themes; Camille Saint-Saens Bacchanal from the opera Samson and Delilah. Scherazade by Rimski Korsakov; Israeli classics, Alexander Boskovichs Semetic Suite and Mark Lavris Emek, and Middle Eastern classics like the Turkish Longa Shanhaz and a traditional Arab folk song Lamma Bada Yotathana.
For 2700 fifth and sixth graders, this was the climax of three consecutive years of exposure to classical music in the KeyNote program. KeyNote is the Israel Philharmonics education program which reaches 20,000 students every year. These children started attending IPO concerts in third grade and progressed through programs of Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, to Pictures by Mussorgsky, Fiesta Espangnol, and Legends in Music. The KeyNote program specializes in introducing repertoire, first to the teachers, then in the classroom with small ensembles, all in preparation for the full orchestra concert.
Because 20% of KeyNote students are from the Arab community the concert was presented in both Arabic and Hebrew by singer Enas Masalha. She then went on to perform an aria from a Mozarts Marriage of Figaro, and in contrast, a traditional Arab folk song. She was accompanied by the Arab/Jewish Ensemble under the auspices of the IPO. The ensemble is comprised of 4 of the finest musicians from the Arab community playing oriental violin, oriental flute, oud and percussion, and 3 leading IPO members.
Bishara Naddaf, percussionist for the Arab/ Jewish Ensemble, brought his Darbukkah students from three schools in the Jezreel Valley. The children, both Jewish and Arab, performed solo on the edge of the stage, and then joined the Philharmonic in a performance of Bacchanal for the grand finale of the concert.
Watch a video clip from the concert: