Two artists with the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers (VYP) 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 Basem and Muna 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 14th 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.