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"There is only one Nazareth, and to hold a festival here is like a dream," says the artistic director of the Musica Sacra festival, Doron Salomon.
The festival, inaugurated in 1994, was cancelled for several years. It now returns in a somewhat enlarged version as a part of a new, two-week offering of sacred music in the town's churches. The Nazareth Festival of the Feasts is a triple celebration of Hanukka, Id el-Adha and Christmas. This weekend is dedicated to classical Arabic music performed by prominent local artists (December 21-23); next weekend is Western liturgy (December 29-30), with a fair, fireworks and festive processions in between. "The entire city turns into the festival site," says Salomon, "just like Lion or Edinburgh."
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The decision to revive the festival came less than a month ago, and was initiated by the local tourism office. "The task was almost impossible. We built the program using the essence of the liturgical repertoire, trying to make it variegated, appealing to different tastes."
The programs vary from 12-century music performed by the local Baroque music ensemble Quynade to major pieces like Haydn's Creation performed by the Ra'anan Simphonette, the Upper Galilee Choir and soloists, or Mozart's Requiem, performed by the Israeli Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Choir. Other programs feature pieces by Schubert, Rossi and Bach, among others.
Salomon sees the new format as an important step forward. "This is not only about collaboration between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, but about the most enriching musical experience, which can be obtained only here. As a musician I know that after listening to different music - classical Arabic, for example - you hear Schubert differently. This is the knowledge which opens new horizons for a music lover."
Details at (04) 601-1072 or www.nazarethinfo.org .