The Shinonome Choir of the Japan Christian Friends of Israel presented a selection of Japanese and Hebrew songs in its Jerusalem performance.
By URY EPPSTEINShinonome Choir
Japanese and Hebrew Songs
The Shinonome Choir of the Japan Christian Friends of Israel, on its 10th goodwill mission tour here, presented a selection of Japanese and Hebrew songs in its Jerusalem performance.
What a local audience would expect of a Japanese choir is, first and foremost, Japanese songs. There were indeed some of these - four out of 15 pieces. Instead of so many Hebrew songs that one can hear here anyway, some more Japanese ones would have been welcome, even at the expense of some Hebrew pieces.
The Japanese songs inevitably included the popular "Sakura," dubbed in the program notes as a folk song, though actually it is an anonymously composed song from the late 19th century.
Conductor Takeo Saio's own "Jerusalem," though contemporary to a text by the group's founder Takeji Otsuki, is firmly rooted in the European Romantic style. A parody on "Hassidic Niggun" and "A Yiddishe Mame," in Yiddish, was mildly amusing.
Noteworthy was the choir's soft, meticulously polished, ingratiating voice production, pure intonation, clear Hebrew pronunciation and, above all, profound emotional involvement with the Hebrew songs.
There is much to be learned from this refined Japanese group by local choirs, whose renditions are often more robust.
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