Thursday, May 14, 2015

The 47th Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival to take place May 2015 in the Judean Hills

The 47th Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival will open on May 22nd 2015. Existing in its present set-up since 1992, the festival, directed by Hanna Tzur, takes place twice a year – during the Succoth and Shavuot holidays. Concerts are held in the spacious Kiryat Ye’arim Church that graces the top of a hill and in the intimate crypt of the 12th century Benedictine Crusader Church, nestling in a peaceful, exotic garden. People from all over Israel attend the festival, taking time out from the bustle of everyday life to immerse themselves in good music, enjoy the views over the Judean Hills, to picnic and browse the craft stalls.

 This year’s Shavuot festival will take place May 22nd, 23rd and 24th, and will feature a good selection of Israeli artists in a wide variety of events. The festive opening event will be “Cherubini - Requiem, Mendelssohn - Psalm 115” (Kiryat Ye’arim Church, June 22nd, 11:30) in which Maestro Ronen Borshevsky will conduct the Israel Kibbutz Choir and the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra. A rare treat at this concert will be Israeli composer Yoni Rechter’s “Adorned is Your Forehead” (lyrics: Avraham Khalfi) for choir oboe and piano (arr. Shaul Gilad). Soloists will be soprano Beata Lipska, tenor Boaz Ben-Sira and baritone Jacob Basch.

 People wishing to indulge in the joys, roller-coaster emotions and vivid colors of Latin music will be drawn to “Misa Criolla, Misa a Buenos Aires” (Kiryat Ye’arim Church, May 22nd, 15:00) to hear works of Ramirez, Piazzolla, Palmeri and more, performed by the Kibbutz Artzi Choir, the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra and a Latino-America Ensemble, under the baton of  Yuval Benozer; and, later that day, “Ramirez, Villa Lobos, Gilberto Gil, Caymmi”, a rich variety of highlights from Brazil and Argentina, will be performed by soprano Daniela Skorka and guitarist Eyal Leber (the Crypt, May 22nd, 16:15).

 This Abu Gosh Festival also offers an event for opera lovers. They will be able to enjoy arias, duets and ensembles from a number of operas in “Rossini – The Barber of Seville, the Italian in Algiers” (Kiryat Ye’arim Church, May 23rd, 15:00), performed by up-and-coming (and more veteran) singers from the Israeli Opera’s Meitar Opera Studio, accompanied by pianist and musical director of the studio, David Sebba.

Those with a taste for American music are going to enjoy two special events: in “Homage to Joan Baez – Her Loved and Renowned Songs” (the Crypt, May 22nd, 14:00), soprano Revital Raviv with guitarist Eyal Leber and Shaul Gross (guitar, harmonica, mandolin) will bring back nostalgic memories to many of us with American, Scottish and Irish folk songs, songs of Bob Dylan, Don Dilworth and Dire Straits. From the finest of American musical theatre repertoire, soprano Sharon Dvorin, mezzo-soprano Karin Shifrin and pianist Yoni Farhi will present numbers from ”Porgy and Bess”,  “West Side Story” and “The Sound of Music” , topped off with songs from Kurt Weill’s tragicomic evocation of decadence and vice in Germany of the late 1920s in his  “Threepenny Opera” and “Mahaggony” in the event titled “Gershwin, Bernstein, Hammerstein and Kurt Weill” (the Crypt, May 23rd, 16:15).

 The mandolin will hold a unique place at this Shavuot’s Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival. In “Maestro Vivaldi’s Mandolin” (Kiryat Ye’arim Church, May 23rd, 11:30) we will actually hear three mandolin artists – Shmuel Elbaz (soloist), Jacob Reuven and Roy Dayan. In a program of works by Vivaldi, Ortelli and Monteverdi, they will be joined by tenor Daniel Portnoy, countertenor Eliran Dadosi, Amit Tiefenbrunn (viola da gamba), Yizhar Karshon (harpsichord), Ma’ayan Beider-Jacobson (double bass) and the Shachar Choir under the direction of Gila Brill. Totally different concert fare will be the order of the day in “Shem Tov Levi – Singer, Composer, Musician” (the Crypt, May 23rd, 14:00), when Shem Tov Levi himself (b.1950), violinist Yael Barolsky, violist Yael Patish-Comforty and ‘cellist Shira Mani-Sror will present Levi’s songs alongside  music of J.S.Bach and Piazzolla in a curiously motley selection of works.

 In addition to the opening concert, sacred music, as always, will figure largely in this Shavuot’s Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival. In addition to the much-loved “Fauré – Requiem for soloists, choir and orchestra” (Kiryat Ye’arim Church, May 22nd, 18:00) the same concert will feature a lullaby by Veljo Tormis, pieces of Benjamin Britten, the “Pie Jesu” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Requiem”, Yehezkel Braun’s lush arrangement of Naomi Shemer’s “Jerusalem of Gold” and some French chansons, with Anat Morahg conducting an instrumental ensemble and the Ma’ayan and Bat Kol Choirs; vocal soloists will be soprano Shira Patshornik, alto Noga Morahg and baritone Guy Pelc. Marina Ganshin will provide the poignant harp role so essential to the Fauré Requiem. “Händel – Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day” (Kiryat Ye’arim Church, May 24th, 11:30) will be accompanied by an impressive line-up of instrumentalists and feature soprano Yeela Avital, tenor Assaf Kacholi and flautist Noam Buchman, with the Upper Galilee Choir, conducted by Ron Zarhi. This will be followed by “Works by Bach, Mozart and Liszt – Mass, Cantata, Vespers” (Kiryat Ye’arim Church, May 24th, 15:00) with soprano Shira Patshornik, organists Yizhar Karshon and Alexander Wolch, the Barrocade Ensemble and the Tel Aviv Chamber Choir conducted by Michael Shani.  Not to be missed is  the festival’s closing event, in which the Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival’s musical director Hanna Tzur will be conducting the Ramat Gan Choir in “Rossini – Petite Messe Solenelle” (Kiryat Ye’arim Church, May 24th, 18:00), a convivial, colorful and somewhat enigmatic piece (declared by Napoleon III as “neither small, solemn, nor especially liturgical in spirit”). Soloists will be soprano Daniela Skorka, alto Sigal Haviv, tenor Eitan Drori and baritone Alexey Kanonikov. Performed here in the composer’s original chamber setting, this optimistic work is sure to emerge as more personal and elegant, lending itself to live performance and constituting a fine adieu to the upcoming Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival.

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