Musical Winter in Abu Ghosh

"The idea behind this six-concert winter series is to fill in the empty period between the two festivals of Succot and Shavuot," says producer Gershon Cohen of the Musical Winter vocal festival, taking place at Abu Ghosh's medieval Kiryat Ya'arim Church tomorrow (Saturday) through March 29. "We have opted for a more popular repertoire so as to bring new audiences." The series starts with an homage to the legendary Israeli composer and songwriter Sasha Argov and ends with a matinee program of Bialik songs, with popular classics like Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Requiem in between. Tomorrow's opener features a unique Prophets of the Perfect Fifth vocal ensemble (pictured), four Israeli men in their early 20s who've been singing together since high school. Elam Rotem - who directs the ensemble, sings bass parts and plays the harpsichord - says that a specialization in 16th-century repetoire is an anomoly for a contemporary quartet. "Nowadays, this music is performed by large mixed choirs," he says, "but in the past only men sang it." Joined at noon by Daphna Zehavi, Yonit Shaked-Golan and others, Perfect Fifth presents several songs by Argov especially arranged for this concert. "While not exactly our style, it was interesting to work on this new program," says Rotem. Details at www.agfestival.co.il -