A mosque in Abu Ghosh with its minarets towering above.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
St. Joseph Church
The foreign guest musicians gracing the present Abu Ghosh Music Festival this year were the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, conducted by Kaspars Putnins. It was a welcome opportunity to get acquainted with the not-widely-known musical life of the Baltic countries. It was also a change from most of the other ensembles at the festival, primarily local musicians performing mostly sacred music in the Catholic church of the picturesque Arab village in the outskirts of Jerusalem. This is the Abu Ghosh Festival’s formula for peaceful collaboration.
The choir’s voices sounded as though they were hand-picked for sheer vocal beauty. Sonorous male voices and radiant sopranos combined in perfect balance without ever gliding into shouting. Polyphonic passages were performed with perfect transparency. Phrase and song endings were arranged with a long drawn out diminuendo, as though not bidding a hasty farewell to a piece. Delicate sounds alternated with forcefully shattering ones, with all the intermediate nuances in between.
In a mostly Classical-Romantic program, “Magnificat” by Arvo Paerth, not very well known on our shores, was of particular interest. It sounded like it was expressing profound belief, and was performed in just this spirit, with enthusiasm and intense involvement. A virtuoso, brilliant “Halleluyah” in Bach’s Psalm 149 brought the performance to its exciting end.
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