The Polyphony Foundation aims to bridge the divide between Arab and Jewish communities in Israel through music and to serve as a worldwide model for cooperation based on cultural exchange, dialogue, and partnership. Through music, students at Polyphony can transcend limiting narratives about “the other” and see the world beyond the boundaries of race, religion, and cultural heritage. Polyphony’s exceptional programs have reached over 25,000 children across Israel since 2012, and have developed many young musicians, attracted world-renowned artists, and, most importantly, forged new friendships across cultural lines.
By educating both the performer and the audience in the art of listening and communicating, Polyphony seeks to further the development of a just and dynamic civil society in Israel and to transform the lives of students, families, institutions, and communities by creating opportunities for engagement, dialogue, partnerships, and lasting integration.
The Polyphony Quartet is the result of years of individual study at the Polyphony Conservatory and music making in Polyphony’s Youth Orchestra and the Galilee Chamber Orchestra. Under the guidance of Polyphony’s Executive Director, Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, Polyphony’s talented musicians give performances throughout Israel, Europe, and the United States.
The Quartet brings together violinists Yamen Saadi, Edi Kotlyar, violist Yuval Yatzkin, and cellist Mahdi Saadi for a performance of western classical music and Jewish and Middle Eastern folk tunes. Following the music, Co-Founder and Director Nabeel Abboud Ashkar will lead the musicians and audience members in a question and answer session.
The program will include Schubert’s String Quartet No. 13 in A minor(Rosamunde Quartet), D 804, Op. 29, as well as a full string quartet by an Israeli composer inspired by traditional Arab folk music, and a number of Arab folk tunes arranged for string quartet.
Yamen Saadi was born in Nazareth in 1997 and began his violin education at the Barenboim-Said Conservatory in his hometown. After studying with renowned Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra Concertmaster, Chaim Taub, Yamen joined the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in 2008 at the age of 11. The same year, Yamen made his soloist debut with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, he served as concertmaster of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under the baton of conductor Daniel Barenboim.
Edi Kotlyar was born in Israel in 1996 and began studying violin at age 7 with Prof. Lev Mirchin. He continued his studies with Elena Mazor at The Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at Tel-Aviv University. At the age of 13, he won first prize in the young musicians competition in memory of Mordecai Turgeman. The next year, in April of 2010, Edi received First Prize in the National Competition for young violinists in Tel Aviv. In March 2013, he won First Prize in National Competition in memory of Eran Zoldan in Raanana. As a student in April 2015, he won First Prize in both string and chamber music at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv.
Yoav Yatzkin was born in Jerusalem in 1995. At the age of 9, he started to learn the violin and switched to viola at 16, studying with Michael Gaisler. He studied with Chaim Taub and is currently attending the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance where Tali Kravitz is his teacher. As a member of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Yoav has performed in Marseille, Sevilla, Berlin, Salzburg, Lucerne and Abu Dhabi. As an active chamber musician, he has performed in Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, the Richard Strauss Institute, and at the official residence of the President of France, the Elize Palace. Yoav served as the principal violist of the Young Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and is also a member of the Musethica Israel Quartet.
Mahdi Saadi began his cello studies at the Polyphony Conservatory in Nazareth at the age of 12. Only four months later, he played his first concert for King Abdullah of Jordan. Mahdi went on to study at the Ljubljana University in Slovenia, Tel Aviv University’s Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, and the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin. He performs regularly in both chamber music concerts and orchestral concerts in Israel, Europe, and the United States, including the Andalucía Orchestra in Spain, the Cyprus Youth Orchestra and notably with the Polyphony Ensemble during its debut US tour in June 2011. He also played with the Galilee Orchestra, the World Orchestra, and the Branimir Slokar Academy, known as the Mio Orchestra. Mahdi is a two-time winner of the Keren Sharet Foundation’s music competition. He plays a 1928 C.G. Stewart cello on loan from America-Israel Culture Foundation.