Polyphony Ensemble Biographies
Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, co-founder, executive director and conductor
Abboud Ashkar, who grew up in Nazareth Israel, learned to appreciate music as a young child. In 2006, he started the first classical music conservatory for Arab students, taught by Jewish teachers from Tel Aviv. Today, Polyphony offers music education and appreciation in Arab schools and the Nazareth conservatory. Abboud Ashkar describes the work of Polyphony as a way to bring people together through music. “Polyphony is the hope for a better future,” he says.
Deema Azar, soprano
A graduate of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Azar has performed many famous roles on stage with distinguished music organizations, including Saluzzo Opera Academy and Piccolo Opera Festival in Italy; the Jerusalem Opera; the Orpheus organization in Haifa and Nazareth; the Jerusalem Lyric Opera; the international Summer Opera Program in Tel Aviv and more.
Anastasia Klevan, soprano
Anastasia Klevan was born in Ukraine and grew up in Israel. She was a member of the Israeli Opera’s Meitar Opera Studio and grew to become a soloist at the Israeli Opera and the Philharmonic Orchestra. She often performs with liturgical symphonic works, as well as specializing in modern music, and is a member of the music personnel at the Polyph5 and the cello at age 8. She performs with many orchestras, including the Israeli Chamber Orchestra, the Opera Orchestra and the Galilee Orchestra, with conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Lahav Shani, Christoph Poppin, Dan Ettinger, Saleem Abboud Ashkar and many more.
Doron Alperin, viola
Alperin, a native of Israel, received his music training in Salzburg, Austria and Rostock, Germany. He has performed with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, The London Symphony Orchestra, The West-Eastern Divan and The World Orchestra for Peace. He is currently a member of the Israel Symphony Orchestra and leading viola of the Galilee Chamber Orchestra.
Ibrahim Boulos, violin
Ibrahim Boulos, a native of Nazareth, began his violin studies at age 5 at what would become the Polyphony Conservatory with founder Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar. He is currently studying under Chaim Taub’s guidance. He has participated in worldwide concerts, master classes, and courses. Boulos is a regular violinist of the Galilee Orchestra and Polyphony Foundation’s ensembles and programs.
Nasif Francis, violin
Nazareth native Nasif Francis began his violin studies at age 5 at what would become the Polyphony Conservatory with founder Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar. By age 11, he became a violinist in the Galilee Chamber Orchestra—the first professional orchestra in Israel composed of both Arab and Jewish musicians—with which he is still performing. Francis made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2022.
Romi Kopelman, cello
Romi Kopelman started playing the piano at age 5 and cello at 8. She currently plays with the Israeli Chamber Orchestra, the Opera Orchestra, the Galilee Orchestra, and more, with conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Lahav Shani, Christoph Poppin, Dan Ettinger and Saleem Abboud Ashkar. One of her pieces was chosen as a soundtrack for the 2022 Cannes Film Festival award-winning short film “The Crow.”
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Filip Fenrych, violin
Born in Poland, violinist Filip Fenrych joined the Dallas Symphony in 2008. Prior to joining the DSO, he served as an Assistant Concertmaster in the San Antonio Symphony. His concerto debut at age 14 took place in Germany and since then, he has performed all around the world. In addition to the DSO, Fenrych is currently a member of the Verbier Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland.
Jeff Hood, cello
Jeffrey Hood, from Portage, Michigan, began playing the cello at age 2 with a toy guitar and a chopstick for a bow, and began real cello lessons a year later. He spent two years as a fellow with the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida, and was a member of the Canton (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra. Hood joined the DSO in September, 2011.
Christine Hwang, viola
Christine Hwang joined the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 2011. She began her musical studies at age 5 on the violin and piano. Hwang’s performances have taken her throughout the U.S., as well as Mexico, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and South Korea. She is also an active chamber musician and teacher in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Maria Schleuning, violin
Violinist Maria Schleuning has been a member of the Dallas Symphony since 1994, and has been featured as soloist on many occasions. She is also Artistic Director of the Voices of Change Modern Music Ensemble. An active chamber musician, Schleuning has performed in venues such as New York’s Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and the Museum of Modern Art. She also serves as Principal Second Violin of the New York Women’s Ensemble.