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Songs of Peace

Racheli Galay talks touring with Quartetoukan, a Jewish-Arab quartet that’s using music to bring people together.

Racheli Galay poses with her cello, smiling.
Racheli Galay

Fall 2023

“When people in conflict come together, open their hearts and listen to music in each other’s languages and cultures, it brings people closer,” says Racheli Galay. 

Galay ’07 DMA is a founding member of Quartetoukan, a Jewish-Arab quartet whose music reflects the multicultural, multilingual society in Israel. A classically trained cellist who specializes in Jewish music, Galay has toured Israel, Germany and Spain with Quartetoukan since 2012, performing songs in Arabic, Hebrew, English and Yiddish that promote harmony and peace. Most recently she performed in Rabat, Casablanca and Essaouira, Morocco as part of the 2022 International Festival of Andalusian Music. “We were Muslims and Jewish people playing together,” says Galay. “It was heartwarming.” 

Quartetoukan also conducts music workshops for students throughout Israel, with the goal of bridging the gap between cultures. Jewish and Arab classes are brought together and then split into small mixed groups and instructed to teach one another simple songs from their respective cultures in their native languages. Then, they come up with an original bilingual song to perform together. “Music can solve so much,” says Galay, who is head of the music department at the Givat Washington Academic College of Education in Israel, a position she attributes in no small part to her Bienen School of Music education, including her experience studying with renowned cellist and professor Hans Jørgen Jensen, as well as professor emeritus of music theory Robert Gjerdingen, professor emeritus of string pedagogy James Kjelland and professor Inna Naroditskaya. Galay also teaches cello pedagogy at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. 

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