Concert Review: Abu Ghosh Music Festival

Bulgarian Choir Kiryat Ye’arim Church September 29

THE TOWN of Abu Ghosh on the road to Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)
THE TOWN of Abu Ghosh on the road to Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The guest musicians who took part in the present Abu Ghosh Music Festival were the Bulgarian Female Choir “Lira,” in collaboration with the Israeli Na’ama Ensemble, in the Catholic Kiryat Yearim church of this Arab village – a veritable example of peaceful collaboration.
 An outstanding feature of the Bulgarian choir was its extremely pleasant-sounding voices, doing their very best to make them sound as angelic as humanly possible, especially in the pieces of sacred music. From the Western European repertoire, they selected, for some strange reason, French composers only, such as Certon, Bizet, Saint Saens, Cesar Franck and Faure, with the latter’s “Messe de Pecheurs,” including an exuberant Gloria and an appropriately solemn “Agnus Dei,” performed persuasively in this spirit.
A piano accompaniment, substituting for an orchestra, served mainly to overshadow the voices.
A mildly amusing selection of Bulgarian folksongs, some of them with humorous sound effects and mostly unknown on these shores, were performed with naturally particular involvement and enthusiasm.
As a gesture of courtesy to their hosts, the program concluded with some Israeli songs, including Alexander (Saasha) Argov’s ”Their Song.”
All in all, it was a worthwhile – though not quite exciting –acquaintance with a Eastern European music culture little-known here.