Meet the PYO


The Palestine Youth Orchestra (PYO) was founded in 2004 by the ESNCM with the vision of bringing together young Palestinian musicians from around the world. The orchestra can rightly claim today that it is a quality national youth orchestra on a par with similar ensembles worldwide. Over the past ten years, it has performed in Palestine, Germany, Jordan, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon, Greece, France and Italy. The PYO comprises of around eighty young musicians of Palestinian origin residing around the world who are between 13 and 26 years old and are able to perform on an orchestral instrument to a standard of at least grade 7 (ABRSM).
PYO musicians meet annually for a one-week residential course followed by a concert tour. From year to year, a different country is chosen for the residential course and the 80-members orchestra invites, alongside the young musicians of Palestinian origin, 10 to 15 young guest musicians from music institutions or youth orchestras of the hosting country. Students are coached by musicians who perform and teach with leading ensembles and music conservatories. Recent guest tutors have come from English National Opera, the Chilingirian Quartet, Valencia Opera House, Qatar Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, Amman Symphony Orchestra, Aubervilliers Conservatoire, Royal Northern College of Music, Conservatorio Paganini (Genoa), and the London Symphony Orchestra. Since 2012 the ESNCM has developed a partnership with the Oslo Philharmonic which entails having members of the prestigious Norwegian orchestra as coaches for the sections of the Palestine Youth Orchestra.
Conductors who have directed the PYO include Sian Edwards, Nicolas Simon, Tom Hammond, Hilari Gárcia Gázquez, Roger Johansson, Walter Mik and Anna-Sophie Breuning. Soloists have included Marcel Khalife, Mariam Tamari, Dima Bawab, Maias Al Yamani, Mohamed Najem, Ahmad Al Khatib, Fadi Deeb, Omeima Khalil, Basel Zayed, Karim Said, Reem Talhami, Rim Banna, Basel Theodory, Alexander Suleiman, Saleem Abboud Ashkar, and winners of the Palestine National Music Competition Oday Al-Khattab (Hebron), Rawan Elleyan (Gaza City), and Osama Diab (Ramallah).
The PYO is dedicated to promoting the work of Palestinian and Arab composers, alongside well-known standards of the Western symphonic repertoire. Recent concerts have included music by Naji Hakim, Marcel Khalife, Issa Boulos, John Bisharat, Ahmad Al Khatib, Salvador Arnita, Kinan Azmeh, Maias Al Yamani, Salim Dada, the Rahbani Brothers, Suhail Khoury and Rima Tarazi. Other repertoire performed by the Orchestra has included Rimsky Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 3, 5 and 8, Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 and Triple Concerto, Dvořák’s Symphonies No. 5 and 9, Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta, excerpts from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Haydn’s Symphony No. 94, Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, Khatchaturian’s Gayane Suite, Shostakovich’s The Gadfly, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 2, Rossini’s Overture to La Gazza Ladra, Berlioz’s Carnaval Romain and songs by Dvořák, Delibes and Stephen Adams.