Sacred music performed in Christian churches of an Arab village by Jewish-Israeli and guest musicians - this paradoxical coexistence sums up what the Abu Gosh Festival is all about. Its opening featured the Potsdam New Chamber Choir, directed by Israeli conductor Ud Joffe. "Jeremiah's Lamentations" by Thomas Tallis and Brahms' Motets added up to an unconventional and therefore curiosity-arousing program. To make it even more uncommon, movements of Tallis and the Brahms motets were performed in alternation. This slicing up of a major Renaissance work for a melange with Romantic pieces seemed objectionable at first. But the livening up of Tallis' solemnity with Brahms' human touch turned out to be refreshing and appealing.
Only rarely is one so lucky as to hear such clear, bright sopranos as those of the Potsdam choir. Even in the highest registers they shone radiantly and - without exaggeration - almost angelically. The solid male voices blended in to create a rich, perfectly balanced and well-rounded choral sound. Intonation was immaculate and articulation was such as to lend plasticity and significance to every phrase.