The Abu Ghosh Festival

The festival presents classical and contemporary liturgical music alongside pieces by Britten and Pilsner in Abu Ghosh's historic churches.

choir 2 88 (photo credit:)
choir 2 88
(photo credit: )
"By nature I am not a revolutionary," smiles Hana Manch, the new artistic director of the Abu Ghosh Vocal Music Festival, "and I don't think we need revolutions here, since the festival enjoys a devoted audience of its own. But nowadays, when we can listen to almost any musical piece at any locale, we have to give people a good reason for going to Abu Ghosh, beyond the beautiful landscape and, yes, the excellent humous in the local restaurants." Manch explains that her idea was to take advantage of the special acoustics in the village's three concert spaces - Kyriat Yearim Church, the Crusaders' Church and the Tiny Crypt - in putting the festival program together. The result is a preponderance of liturgical and Baroque music in this week's vocal festival. For many of the pieces, this will be their first Israeli performance, while others will be familiar to local audiences. In addition to a selection of classical music, contemporary liturgical music is represented via pieces by Britten and Preisner. "Preisner's name is first and foremost associated with music for cinema, and for good reason," says Manch. "It was Preisner who composed music for all of Krzysztof Kieslowski's movies. His 'Requiem for My Friend' was written in 1998, when the famous Polish film director died, and was originally performed in a church in Krakow." There will also be an evening of Russian liturgical music sung by the local Musica Eterna choir, and a program of motets and madrigrals by Monteverdi featuring the I Fagiolini vocal ensemble from England, whose work proved a huge hit at last year's Israel Festival. There will also be music by Pergolesi, Monteverdi and Vivaldi, to name just a few. Other performers include the much-in-demand Canadian countertenor Daniel Taylor, soprano Linda Perillo and conductor/violinist Walter Reiter, as well as local choirs such as the Upper Galilee Choir, the Tel Aviv Chamber Choir, Bat Kol and Maayan. Manch says she enjoyed working with the artists in preparing the festival. "You cannot just come and impose your ideas on the artists. You have to meet them, talk to them, teach them and sometimes, after a discussion, something new is created," she said. "Putting a festival program together is not a momentary thing, but rather a long process." As in previous Abu Ghosh festivals, this Shavuot event will take advantage of the town's picturesque locale for a variety of outdoor concerts. For a more detailed program in English and Hebrew, visit the festival site at www.agfestival.co.il.; see p. 17 for Thursday program.