The newly formed Palestine National Orchestra rang in the new year with its debut concert in Ramallah on Friday, following up the performance with concerts in Haifa and Jerusalem on New Year's Day.
The programme included new and old Palestinian classical music, along with pieces by Mozart and Beethoven, and one by the Hungarian Jewish composer, Gyorgy Ligeti.
Suhail Khoury, the director of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, was quoted by the LA Times as introducing the performance with the words: "Today an orchestra, tomorrow a state."
Addressing a packed auditorium, he added: "Today we are witnessing the birth of the Palestine National Orchestra at a time when the Palestinian struggle for independence is passing through one of its most critical and difficult moments."
More than 40 Palestinian and foreign musicians, drawn from the leading orchestras around the world, came together to form what is the first Palestinian orchestra since 1948. For some, members of the Palestinian diaspora, it was their first trip to Palestine.
The leading Swiss conductor Baldur Brönnimann directed the performance, which also featured the young Palestinian-Japanese soprano Mariam Tamari.
Brönnimann has been the music director of the Columbian National Symphony Orchestra since 2008. Tamari, born to a Palestinian father and a Japanese mother, performed the soprano solo in Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate.
The orchestra is the initiative of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, named after the late Palestinian writer and academic.