Succot at Abu Gosh

Choirs and atmosphere provide for an enjoyable musical experience.

choir 88 (photo credit: )
choir 88
(photo credit: )
There’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 “it’s just great, that’s all.” 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 year’s festival from October 21-25 seems to be no exception. Among the local offerings, Yael Wagner-Avital conducts the Tivon Chamber Choir in Haydn’s Stabat Mater (KY 22/10), and the gifted Michael Shani conducts his Tel Aviv Chamber Choir and the Ra’anana Symphonette in both Mozart’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Choral Cantata (KY 23/10); an unusual program is “Missa Mexicana”, 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 King’s Chapel Choir) conducted by Oscar Gershensohn. The Potsdam choir makes its Israeli debut, and will sing motets by Brahms and Thomas Tallis’ Lamentations of Jeremiah (CC 21/10), as well as Bach’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. Helen Kaye