The 50th Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival, under the direction of Hanna Tzur, will take place from October 20th to 24th 2016. Concerts will be performed at the Church of the Ark of the Covenant, on the hill of Kiryat Ye’arim (appropriately called the Town of Forests), and in the 12th century Crusader Church Crypt that nestles among the mature pine trees of a magical garden in the lower area of Abu Gosh. (The historic town of Abu Gosh is located 10 kilometers west of Jerusalem.) In the words of festival director Hanna Tzur: “Twice a year the village of Abu Gosh becomes a paradise for vocal music-lovers, who come in their thousands from all over the country and turn Abu Gosh and its churches into a colourful vocal locale of festivities”.
For a pre-festival treat on a very different note, to take place on Thursday October 20th, many of the finest accordionists around will perform folk music in six locations in and around the Kiryat Ye’arim Church.
As in each Abu Gosh Festival, music-lovers will be able to hear several great works of choral repertoire – Brahms’ “German Requiem” (Concert no.2), for example, will be performed in its original form for choir, soloists and two pianos and will feature the Chamber Choir of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (Director: Stanley Sperber). In “Brilliant Baroque with Bach and Caldara from Venice” (Concert no.4) the Tel Aviv Chamber Choir (director Michael Shani) will be joined by soloists Yeela Avital, Gòn Halevi, Doron Florentin and Guy Pelc. For “Pergolesi - Stabat Mater” (Concert no.5), the program also including the Fauré “Requiem”, the Barrocade Ensemble will be joined by fine soloists and the Bat Kol and Maayan Choirs (director: Anat Morahg.) In Concert no.6, Hanna Tzur herself will conduct soloists, the Ramat Gan Chamber Choir and the Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra in Puccini’s “Messa di Gloria”, also works of Verdi and Kurt Weill. The Moran Ensemble (director: Naomi Faran) and soloists will perform “Mendelssohn Gloria, Schubert Magnificat” (Concert no.7); selections from J.S.Bach’s “St Matthew Passion” can be heard in “Bach - Requiem for a Prince”, with Ron Zarhi directing soloists and instrumentalists in Concert no.9.
An auspicious event of the 2016 Fall festival will be the world premiere of Sicilian Baroque composer Michelangelo Falvetti’s oratorio “Nabuco” in its complete form (Concert no.8), performed by Ensemble PHOENIX with vocal soloists. Working with musicologist Fabrizio Longo, PHOENIX founder and director Dr. Myrna Herzog has put together the first reliable score of the work for this ground-breaking event. A renowned Baroque violinist, Fabrizio Longo will also be joined by soprano Einat Aronstein, Avid Stier (harpsichord) and Myrna Herzog (viola da gamba) in Concert no.14 in the Crypt to play works of Vivaldi, Banchieri and Vivaldi.
Regularly performing at Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festivals, members of the Meitar Opera Studio of the Israeli Opera, accompanied by studio director, arranger and pianist David Sebba, will present “Carmen in Abu Gosh” (Concert no.10), a program of opera gems, French Classical works and French chansons. Other events will also offer a mix of classical- and non-classical works: “Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Henry Purcell” (Concert no.16) with countertenor Gòn Halevi and guitarist Eyal Leber and “An Exciting Meeting Between Jazz and Classic” (Concert no.15), featuring soprano Sharon Dvorin, with guitarist Uri Bracha and bassist Oren Sagi.
Other festive fare will include a concert of music from East and West (Concert no.11), with singer, oud player and violinist Yair Dalal and sitar player Yotam Haimovich, “The Virtuosi” (Concert no.12) in which accordionist Emil Aybinder and mandolin artist Shmuel Elbaz with perform music from Armenia, Macedonia, Romania, Russia and Hungary as well as a Piazzolla work, Concert no. 1 – Mikis Theodorakis’ oratorio “Canto General”, with alto Silvia Kigel and the Kibbutz Artzi Choir conducted by Yuval Benozer; also “From the Andes to Copacabana” (Concert no.13) in which mezzo-soprano Anat Czarny will be joined by Tamar Melzer-Krumlovsky (recorders) and guitarist Erez Yaacov.
This festival will host members of the Simvol Very Men’s Choir (Russia). Conducted by Pnina Inbar and Seraphim Dubnov (Concert no.3) they will sing works of Dvorak, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and arrangements of Russian folk songs in a joint program with the (Israeli) Naama Ensemble.
In the Abu Gosh Festival’s relaxed atmosphere, concert-goers can also enjoy informal outdoor concerts, browse the craft stalls and picnic with friends in the tranquil setting of the Judean Hills.
Photo: Berthold Werner