Latest Report from NY Philharmonic Very Young Composer's (VYC) Program in Palestine


The Very Young Composers of the New York Philharmonic, already building a worldwide presence, has made what might become yet another major step toward its goal of enabling children everywhere to express their rich and complex musical thoughts through the equally rich resources of the Symphony Orchestra and concert music of whatever idiom; whether Western, Oriental, Latino, African, Hip-Hop or anything beyond.

The first visit with Jon Deak, Artistic Director, VYC, and Molly Herron, VYC Teaching Artist ran from September through October 2017 and was sponsored by Basem and Muna Hishmeh.  This detailed report covers the program's mission, reach and initiatives, including an in-depth timeline with places, meetings, photos and musical examples.

To read more, download the full report in PDF format here.



Rawdat El- Zuhur December 2017 Newsletter

After an enjoyable, yet quite an eventful summer holiday, a new school year
started on August 26, 2017. We trust that the New Year will bring about hope,
justice, and peace.

As we continue to work with children and yearn for justice and peace, we cannot
but recall the words of the late Indian leader Manatma Gandhi:

“If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war
against war, we shall have to begin with the children”

Indeed children are our business and we hope that the Christmas spirit of joy and
love will strengthen us and help us care for each other, and enable us to face the
daily hardships, especially after the biased and irresponsible statement of Mr.
Trump regarding Jerusalem, which has enflamed the whole region. We pray for
the safety of the young people who are always victims of injustice.

We want to thank you all for your support and to wish you a Merry Christmas and
a Peaceful New Year.

Abla Nasir, President
Raeda Jasser, Principal

To read more, download the full report in PDF format here.

ESNCM in Palestine and Music After School Program Updates

By Carol Friesian-Campbell

With support from The Muna and Basem Hishmeh Foundation, we were able to send five people to work at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music last summer including three alumni, Caleb Rumble, Allison McKenzie, and Artemis Polonium—her second visit—and two faculty members, myself and the university choral director Lauren Fowler-Cellist. The five of us plus two visiting musicians from Spain ran the week-long General Camp at Birgit (with the exception of Arabic Music activities). A highlight there was the Birgit Heritage Days Celebration, which included a parade and an evening concert in the town square.

Lauren and I stayed another week; the conservatory was kind enough to let us stay in the apartment inside the Bethlehem branch, and we did outreach workshops in Shoat Camp, Silva Community Center, and Dehisce Camp.

Some photos from ESNCM residency.  Access the full album via Goggle Photos folder. The music in the video from Shoat is one of Prima Tara’s compositions.

This year’s Music After School is operating in partnership with the Paterson Music Project. This partnership has allowed us to expand the program to two days (Wednesday and Thursday) and bring in two additional schools: School 15 and the Community Charter School as well as Norman S. Weir. We were also able to leverage our existing program to get a grant from the Dada Foundation to start a guitar program one day per week at Norman S. Weir School.

View all the photos from last spring’s Music After School concert.

New York Philharmonic Teaching Artists Travel to Ramallah, Palestine

September 27, 2017—Westland, Michigan – Two artists with the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers (VYC) Program traveled to the Occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestine on Saturday, September 23, in a quest to observe how music is taught, learned and encouraged in Palestinian children.

Jon Deak, Artistic Director of the New York Philharmonic VYC Program and Molly Herron, a VYC Teaching Artist are traveling to Ramallah, Palestine through the generosity of the Muna and Basem Hishmeh Foundation that provides support for educational and cultural programs at William Paterson University in New Jersey, and other institutions both in Palestine and the U.S.

“We are representing the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program, which believes that all children are already creative,” said Deak. “And, we will be there to listen intensively to the children, to witness, perform, record and proclaim their music and art.”

Both Deak and Herron will remain in Ramallah until October 8, and Deak said they will employ local teaching artists, local instruments, and local performers as well. The evening before they depart back to the U.S., they will preside over a recital of musical arrangements composed by Palestinian children in the West Bank.

Palestine is the 14 th country to which the VYC has brought it programs and ideas and this is the first of multiple visits VYC will make to Ramallah over a three-year period.

“What we have learned over the years, that besides the beauty and substance of the music we have discovered, the essence is this: That although children’s music varies delightfully from place to place, age to age, language to language – the music still expresses universal human emotions, joys and sorrows, just as the children themselves vary abundantly and yet are fundamentally the same everywhere,” explained Deak.


Joy Batteh-Freiha
(904) 422-7645|

Basem Hishmeh
(954) 298-4245 |

Solar Powered Streetlights Kick Off New Initiative

We helped fund a new project in Ramallah to light up a remote street that connects two parts of Ramallah using solar energy as a source.

The lights were installed by the municipality of Ramallah between Al Tireh and Rihan and have been operational for 2 months now without an issue.

As a result, we are in the process of establishing a commercial operation to install solar-powered lights in other towns and villages.



Playgrounds 29 and 30 Open in Ramallah and Bethlehem

During his recent visit to Palestine, Basem Hishmeh joined additional donors in the official opening of two new playgrounds, Playground 29 in Ramallah and Playground 30 in Bethlehem.

The opening of the new Bayyara Playgrounds continues the program's push forward to create recreational parks for children in different parts of the provinces of the country, and to provide safe places for Palestinian children to play.  The trip included two visits to other recently opened playgrounds in Birzeit and Dier Dibwan.


Ramallah Jadwal Bayyara Playground #29


Bethlehem Bayyara Playground #30