Saturday, April 7, 2018

Events to look forward to at the upcoming Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival (May 18th to 20th)

The Kityat Ye'arim Church (photo: Danny Hermon)

The Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival takes place twice a year in and around Abu Gosh, a town located 16 kilometers west of Jerusalem on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. The next Abu Gosh Festival will take place from May 18th to May 20th 2018, with a program of 12 concerts suited to varied musical tastes. Concerts will be performed in two churches – the spacious Kiryat Ye’arim Church, sitting high up on the hill, and the Crypt – a small, 12th century Crusader Benedictine church set in a magical, exotic garden in the lower part of the town of Abu Gosh.  The Abu Gosh Festival has existed in its present form since 1992. People come from far and wide to attend concerts, picnic in the open, sit in on open-air events, buy trinkets at the outdoor stalls set up near the Kiryat Ye’arim Church and relax in the tranquil surroundings of the Jerusalem Hills. The festival features many Israeli groups and soloists, also hosting some overseas artists. As of 1995, Hannah Tzur has been musical director of the festival. Ms. Tzur, a contralto who has soloed with major orchestras and conductors in Israel, has directed the Ramat Gan Chamber Choir for 19 years.


The Kiryat Ye’arim Church will host a number of concerts of classical vocal works: “The Giants’ Summit” (Concert No.2, May 18th) will present music of Beethoven and Brahms, with four solo singers joining the Israeli Vocal Ensemble (Conductor: Yuval Benozer) and the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra. Yuval Benozer will also conduct Fauré’s Requiem (Concert No.5, May 19th) with soloists Dana Marbach, Yair Polishook, the Israel Kibbutz Choir and the Raanana Symphonette. Sopranos Alla Vasilevitsky and Keren Hadar will join an ensemble of players from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in a program of Mozart’s Mass in C-minor, the Great, and Bach’s Double Concerto for oboe and violin (Concert No.8, May 20th); they will perform under the baton of Hannah Tzur herself. Baroque music aficionados will be catered for in two events: Ensemble Barrocade, the Tel Aviv Chamber Choir (conductor: Michael Shani) and soloists will perform works of Händel, Bach and Marcello (Concert No.4, May 19th). Barrocade, conducted by Yizhar Karshon, and soloists will perform “The Judgement of Paris” (Concert No.3, May 19th), an opera by Daniel Purcell (Henry Purcell’s brother.) Guest choir to the May festival will be the Jauna Muzika Choir (Conductor: Vaclovas Augustinas) from Lithuania, performing a program of works of Bach, Mendelssohn, A.Scarlatti and Lithuanian folk songs (Concert No.7, May 20th). There can be no Abu Gosh Festival without a concert performed by singers of the Meitar Opera Studio under their conductor, pianist and arranger David Sebba; “Italian Love Affair” (Concert No.6, May 20th) will present these young, budding opera singers in arias, duets and ensembles from renowned operas of Bellini, Donizetti, Puccini, Verdi and Rossini.  The Jerusalem Academy Chamber Choir (conductor: Stanley Sperber) will commemorate 100 years of the birth of Leonard Bernstein in “Angels Singing” (Concert No.1, May 18th) with works of Bernstein and Mendelssohn as well as some spirituals.


Take a wander down to the Romanesque Crusader Church. Below it, the crypt, which was built in a former reservoir of the second century, is massive and austere; in some places its walls are more than 3½ meters thick. At its centre flows a spring. In the church’s exotic, tranquil garden, a local man will be there to serve you coffee with cardamom and rich, sweet pastries. Some of the more intimate and different-style concerts take place here. For festival-goers interested in folk music, soprano Einat Aronstein and lutenist Ophira Zakai will perform Scottish songs (“Scotland’s Green Pastures”, Concert No.9, May 18th). “The Castle's Tower – Spanish, Ladino and Renaissance Music” (Concert No.12, May 19th) will present singer Etty Ben-Zaken and instrumentalists in Eitan Steinberg’s arrangements of this appealing music. In an interesting combination of works, “Bach Bossa Nova Style” (Concert No.10, May 18th) will feature soprano Sharon Dvorin, Uri Bracha - guitar/arrangements and Gonen Rosenberg - percussion. Those of us with a penchant for Italian movies can join tenor Assaf Kacholi and guitarist Shani Inbar for some nostalgia in “La Dolce Vita, Cinema Paradiso – Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone”.




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