Dutch Conductor, Palestinian Orchestra strike a hopeful chord with symphonic start to 2017

Naseeb Azeez Shaheen Auditorium at Birzeit University witnessed a thriving art music scene on New Years' Eve, replete with amazing ensembles and performing local and international artists.

Dutch conductor Vincent de Kort who leaded Palestine National Orchestra and Palestinian oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen blended their oriental- western symphonies to draw an incredibly nuanced and expressive performance.

De Kort, leading National Orchestra provided authentic performances of classical music, playing Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, and the Pastoral Symphony (No.6) by Beethoven.  The musicians followed him to perfection, playing as if on a knife-edge.

Shaheen, one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers and composers of his generation, performed the Palestinian premiere of his Oud Concerto No. 1, offering a beautifully rendered music by perfectly co-ordinated strings.

About the performers:

· Palestine National Orchestra:

The members of the Palestine National Orchestra are mostly professional musicians of Palestinian origin. They include performers at leading international orchestras and opera houses, freelance instrumentalists, top-flight studio musicians, and professors teaching at musical conservatoires across the Middle East and further afield.

The PNO is a festival orchestra, meaning it is not a permanent orchestra, but aims to meet once or twice a year to bring high quality professional music making to Palestinian communities, and providing an international platform to promote Palestinian cultural achievements worldwide. Many of the younger players were previously members of the Palestine Youth Orchestra (PYO), before joining the PNO.

·  Vincent de Kort

After a successful career as a cellist in 1995, Kort, at the invitation of Mariss Jansons, made his debut conducting the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. His breakthrough followed in 1997 when he stepped in at the last minute for Gennady Rozhdestvensky with the European Union Youth Orchestra (soloist Radu Lupu) at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. This rapidly led to further engagements, he has since then been invited by a number of prominent Opera houses and orchestras.

Vincent de Kort has established himself among the finest Mozart conductors. He is jury chairman of the highly popular TV program MAESTRO; he was principal guest conductor of the Zürich Symphony Orchestra and was music director and founder of the international chamber orchestra European Sinfonietta as well as the Opera Festival Alden Biesen in Belgium.

·  Simon Shaheen

Shaheen is one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers, and composers of his generation. His work incorporates and reflects a legacy of Arabic music, while it forges ahead to new frontiers, embracing many different styles in the process. This unique contribution to the world of arts was recognized in 1994 when Shaheen was honored with the prestigious National Heritage Award at the White House.