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Thereâ€™s a special something about the twice-yearly vocal music festivals at Abu Gosh that makes most people splutter a bit incoherently, wave their arms and then offer the rather unoriginal â€œitâ€™s just great, thatâ€™s all.â€
Perhaps the amazing accoustics at both the Kiryat Yearim (KY) church and the 12th century Crusader chapel/crypt (CC) have something to do with it, perhaps the relaxed atmosphere, and probably the usually fine quality and variety of the vocal music on offer. This yearâ€™s festival from October 21-25 seems to be no exception.
Among the local offerings, Yael Wagner-Avital conducts the Tivon Chamber Choir in Haydnâ€™s Stabat Mater (KY 22/10), and the gifted Michael Shani conducts his Tel Aviv Chamber Choir and the Raâ€™anana Symphonette in both Mozartâ€™s Requiem and Mendelssohnâ€™s Choral Cantata (KY 23/10); an unusual program is â€œMissa Mexicanaâ€, influenced by Spanish, Creole and African rhythms performed by the Phoenix Ensemble and Collegium Tel Aviv.
The festival has two visitors, the Potsdam New Chamber Choir (Neuer Kammerchor Potsdam) conducted by Ud Joffe and La Capilla Real de Madrid (The Kingâ€™s Chapel Choir) conducted by Oscar Gershensohn.
The Potsdam choir makes its Israeli debut, and will sing motets by Brahms and Thomas Tallisâ€™ Lamentations of Jeremiah (CC 21/10), as well as Bachâ€™s B Minor Mass (KY 23/10) with soloists including UK tenor John Bowley and bass Raimund Nolte from Germany. The Spanish choir offers three concerts, two of them Bach cantatas together with Spanish music from the 16th - 18th centuries. Tickets range from NIS 65-155 and entry to the many events in the convent grounds is NIS 65 for adults and NIS 30 for children.