For a major North American orchestra to tour Israel is a rare, much-relished occasion: Only three such orchestras have ever paid such a visit, including the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1992. Thanks to a partnership with our Jewish Federation, the Orchestra will make their second visit to Israel this June, in a thrilling new endeavor: a joint patron tour and mission in commemoration of Israel’s 70th anniversary.

From June 1st through June 7th, a contingency of local patrons of both the Orchestra and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia will accompany the Orchestra musicians as, following an eight-day European tour, they perform concerts in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. As cultural ambassadors, they will also travel to Sdot Negev and the city of Netivot, a region near Gaza with whom the Jewish Federation has shared a 20-year partnership in the fields of security, culture, pluralism and Jewish identity. The patron tour will bring an audience every step of the way. Renowned James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov will close the tour with a two-day culinary exploration of local cuisine.

Speaking at the press conference on February 13th at the Kimmel Center, Naomi Adler, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation, noted that while the Jewish Federation has worked closely with the Orchestra before (including for Israel’s 50th and 60th anniversaries) and has an expertise in Travel With Purpose missions, “This is our first time combining the two — Orchestra and travel — in a tour which is more than a once-in-a-lifetime experience for participants, but is also a unique opportunity for cultural diplomacy.”

“To travel to Israel with the extraordinary Philadelphia Orchestra is a dream come true,” said Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who will make his first visit to Israel on this tour. “It is incredibly fulfilling to represent our Philadelphia community abroad as cultural ambassadors. We look forward to bringing the spirit of our hometown audiences with us on our journey, as we share our magnificent music-making with those around the globe.”

Lead support for the Israel portion of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2018 tour comes from the Neubauer Family Foundation and Constance Smukler. Thomas Jefferson University is the official education and healthcare partner for the Israel portion of the tour. The trip is being coordinated with the formal inauguration of the Jefferson Israel Center, one of several multi-institutional collaborations with Jefferson and Israel.

“This tour is a true celebration of the arts and culture, as well as the close relationship between Israel and Philadelphia, and it’s a celebration of Israel70,” said Naomi. “It’s going to be an unbelievable experience!”

Want to secure your front row seat for this major moment in Philadelphia-Israeli cultural history? Learn more and register for the Patron mission here. You can also read more about this historic announcement at WHYY and the Jewish Exponent.