On Saturday November 3, 2007, the Baptist School in Nazareth was filled with the sounds of beautiful music. The soaring harmonies of Brahms and Rachmaninoff were intertwined with the equally brilliant and stimulating notes of Chopin, Scarlatti and Schumann. The powers behind this musical virtuosity were three incredibly talented young men: pianist Maor Zur, cellist Yoni Gotlibovich, and violinist Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar. The evening’s performance was held as a fund raising event for the school to raise money for musical instruments, and also as an opportunity for the children to acquire some exposure to classical music. The event was organized by Orpheus, a program for music education for the town of Nazareth, under the leadership of director Duaibis Abboud Ashkar, and was the first such concert to be held at the Baptist School.
Pianist Zur has been performing in solo performances since the age of fifteen and has appeared with the Israel Symphony Orchestra; cellist Yoni Gotlibovich is the principal cellist for ‘Tel Aviv Soloists Ensemble’ and is developing a DVD with RIAX ; violinist Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar is a native of Nazareth and son of Duaibis Abboud-Ashkar. Nabeel will be performing with the ‘Palestine Mozart Festival’ this year. Both Zur and Abboud-Ashkar have accepted teaching positions with the Baptist School and will begin accepting music students. Their program at the Baptist School included pieces by the commonly performed composers, and also a few lesser known works, such as the Russian composer Balakirev’s Islamey for piano and D. Popper’s Hungarian Rhapsody for cello and piano. As the musicians took their final bows, the children begin clapping enthusiastically for an ‘encore.’