"It's a truly inspiring feeling to partner with a film and Broadway star like Mandy, who is as eager as we are to bring people of the Middle East together and inspire peaceful co-existence," said Bar-David.
Khoury has worked with Patinkin many times in the past. This time out, the ensemble's program will incorporate Patinkin's selections of Broadway and Yiddish music, and his pianist, Paul Ford.
"I am not naïve in thinking that this collaboration will change the Middle East," said Khoury. " . . . We may only be offering a dream for hope - well, this is the first step toward realizing that dream."
Israeli-born Bar-David's mission was profoundly inspired by a 1998 meeting with Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh in southern France.
"He taught us that we are all connected, and inspired me to think about music as a unifying force," said Bar-David. "I began playing with an African-American musician, performing Jewish and African-American spirituals in synagogs and churches, then added a Palestinian oud player and began to form an organization dedicated to cross-cultural work through the arts."
Since its founding in 2003, Intercultural Journeys has played, sometimes in conjunction with Philadelphia Orchestra tours, in China, Scotland, Spain, Italy, Palestine and Israel, as well as throughout the United States. Though there's no way to assess its impact, the musicians always feel the power in their message.
"We can measure it best by the transformative impact it has in our audiences and dialogues, and in conferences," said Bar-David. "With the arts as a tool for understanding, the best language of connection, we have witnessed how barriers have been broken. The next stage is for people to achieve that understanding, to live in coexistence. We're really creating an atmosphere for dialogues, a point of departure to lead into more positive understanding between people."
An Evening with Mandy Patinkin, David L. Kurtz Auditorium, Penn Charter School, 3000 W. School House Lane, 3 p.m. Sunday, $45, interculturaljourneys.org.