Amidst rigorous academics; the students of Eton College in England, dressed in suits with tails, paused their studies for a musical performance by the Shalva Band and learned a most unique lesson on inclusion and hope. Comprised of especially talented musicians with disabilities from Israel, the Shalva Band has become an international model for values of inclusion, acceptance, and appreciation of people’s different abilities. The interfaith concert at Eton College included an inspiring and interactive repertoire of classic songs, bringing the audience of 300 students, teachers, and guests to their feet with applause. It was quite historic for an Israeli band to sing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav in a theater donated by the Saudi Royalty.
The Shalva Band is composed of eight adults with disabilities; including Down syndrome, Autism, and various physical handicaps; whose talent and moving performances have merited awards and international recognition. The band has traveled by invitation to perform at concerts across the globe, captivating audiences with their supreme musical talents and inspiring messages.
“It is a true privilege that they have come to perform,” said Nathan Swidler following the performance at Eton College. Aside from being a student at Eton, Nathan is the son of prominent social advocate and philanthropist Alisa Swidler. “What the organization does to advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities, the important programs and the care that each kid receives at the Shalva Center in Israel is truly extraordinary,” Swidler addressed the audience of fellow students and guests.
“It was an evening of profound importance and joy! I’m yet to fully reflect on how significant and wonderful it was for the boys to witness and engage with so many things in one event,” exclaimed Rev. Daniel Bond, Chaplin of Eton College.
Eton College is an independent boarding school for boys ages 13-18 located near Windsor, England. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI and remains today one of the world’s most esteemed educational institutions. The exclusive student body of over 1,300 students is comprised of children from especially affluent families, many of whom have political or regal legacy. Distinguished for its illustrious history and academic prestige, Eton College aims to prime its students for their future roles as heirs of dynasties, whether financial or political in nature.