Photographer Jamie Gordon

Kenes Tours is honored to have hosted the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra on its recent historic visit to Israel in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.  The trip, a mission held to commemorate Israel’s 70th anniversary, marks the culmination of the orchestra’s wider 2018 European tour, featured three unforgettable performances of the premier symphony orchestra and was capped-off by seven days of sightseeing, cultural events, culinary experiences and a visit to the Jewish Federation’s ‘Partnership2Gether’ region of Netivot-Sdot Negev.

Recently the award-winning Philadelphia Orchestra partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for an exclusive and unforgettable tour and patron mission to Israel, powered by Kenes Tours.  The 7-day journey celebrated Israel’s 70th anniversary and successfully reinforced the strong cultural and interpersonal bonds between America’s 6th largest city and the State of Israel.  Over 140 orchestra musicians and staff along with 60 patrons and Jewish Federation participants travelled to Israel over June 1-7 for a musical adventure featuring three unforgettable performances at leading Israeli philharmonic venues, numerous musical residences, exploratory sightseeing, cultural encounters and events, and a visit to the Jewish Federation’s ‘Partnership2Gether’ region of Netivot-Sdot Negev.  The incredible experience concluded with a two-day culinary experience led by James Beard award-winning top Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov, chef-owner of the city’s revolutionary Zahav restaurant and curator of the popular Netflix gastro-documentary In Search of Israeli Cuisine.


Central to its core mission of cultural diplomacy, the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by the legendary musical director Yannick Nezet-Seguin, visited Israel as part of its wider 2018 European tour which commenced earlier in May.  The subsequent visit to Israel, in commemoration of the country’s 70th anniversary, marks only the second time that the Philadelphia Orchestra has visited the nation since its inaugural visit in 1992.  Interesting to note is that the orchestra, the only major American orchestra to visit this year, is only the third-ever to visit the country; the last time an orchestra visited from the U.S. was in 1996.


During its time in Israel, the orchestra treated mission participants, patrons and the Israeli music-loving public to three amazing concerts in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa.  Musical director Yannick Nezet-Seguin, together with featured concert pianist and legend Jean-Yves Thibaudet delivered unforgettable musical performances showcasing selections ranging from Brahm’s Piano Concerto No. 1 to Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 (“Age of Anxiety”) to Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.  “Under Nezet-Seguin’s detailed control, the work felt as anatomized as a great science experiment-every texture weighted, calibrated and carefully fitted-in to play its precise part.  Dark-hued strings gave way to distantly echoing percussion, and an underlying romantic sweep was kept in bounds for Bernstein’s more modernist explorations.  Similarly, a sense of “the now” was rooted in dimly perceptible, ritualistic, to my ears Jewish, refrains.  The whole thing suddenly felt like an echo chamber for the history of a civilization and its struggles, for balance.” (Inverne, James. “In Tel Aviv, Philadelphia Orchestra triumphs over ‘Age of Anxiety.”)


As cultural ambassadors, the mission also travelled to the Israeli peripheral communities of Sdot Negev and Netivot, a region near the Gaza Strip that has greatly benefitted from its twinning with the Philadelphia Jewish Federation and Jewish community as its ‘Partnership2Gether’ region.  This strategic partnership has resulted in strong areas of reciprocal collaboration in the areas of culture, security, pluralism and Jewish identity.


In addition to the remarkable orchestra performances, mission highlights also included:

  • A walking tour of Jaffa with dual perspectives from Jewish and Arab guides
  • An exclusive VIP tour of the prestigious Tel Aviv Museum of Art
  • A musical Havdalah program on the white sand beaches of the Mediterranean Sea with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra
  • A ‘pop-up’ concert in Tel Aviv featuring Philadelphia Orchestra members playing alongside popular ensemble ‘The Street Philharmonics’
  • Delicious wine tastings at the renowned Tulip Winery
  • Meetings with top visionaries, cultural anchors, military and security experts, government representatives and agents for social change
  • TLVStyle fashion tours and a VIP visit to the Yitzhak Rabin Center
  • A curator’s tour at Yad Vashem focusing on musicians and artists during the Holocaust
  • An interfaith walking tour of Jerusalem’s Old City led by a Hebrew University historian
  • Special craft culinary experiences led by Israeli-born award-winning Philadelphia chef and restauranteur Michael Solomonov
Phili Orchestra in TLV

Photographer Jamie Gordon

About his upcoming experience, Philadelphia Orchestra musical director Yannick Nezet-Seguin exclaimed “To travel to Israel with the extraordinary Philadelphia Orchestra is a dream come true…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.” (The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia).


About the Philadelphia Orchestra

‘The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world, renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences and admired for a legacy of imagination and innovation on and off the concert stage. The Orchestra is inspiring the future and transforming its rich tradition of achievement, sustaining the highest level of artistic quality, but also challenging—and exceeding—that level, by creating powerful musical experiences for audiences at home and around the world.’ (The Philadelphia Orchestra)

About the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia

‘Philadelphia’s Jewish community is one of the oldest in North America. For more than a century, the Jewish Federation has been there to support that community, responding to major events, meeting urgent needs and strengthening Jewish traditions.’

‘For more than a century, the Jewish Federation has been proud to Carry the Light for Philadelphia by embracing three key roles: convening the community, encouraging and stewarding the generosity of [its] donors, and making grants to meet critical needs.

By mobilizing [its] combined resources, making everyone feel included, and strengthening values and traditions, [it} ensures that all of us can enjoy meaningful Jewish journeys.’

philadelphia jewish federation

Photographer Jamie Gordon

Kenes Tours is proud of our strategic partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and thrilled about the incredible success of this once-in-a-lifetime experience with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Want to secure your front row seat for Israel’s next meaningful moment?  Learn more about educational and cultural encounters with Israel with Kenes Tours. Contact us today!