Yesterday, I spent the day in Eden.
Eden on the Water, that is – an events venue in Kibbutz Nir Eliyahu. For those of you who are not familiar with the geography of Israel (the majority, I suspect ), Nir Eliyahu is close to the city of Kfar Saba, in the Sharon Plain. And the event – a nationwide conference of choirs, organized by Hallel, the Israel Choral Organization.
700 singers from 21 choirs came together for a day devoted entirely to making music – in this case, Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore K.339. Beautiful music in a beautiful setting – a huge hall with a Scandinavian-style wooden roof and glass walls on three sides, surrounded by well-tended gardens, with pools and waterfalls (hence the name, Eden-al-hamayim, Eden on the Water). During the breaks between sessions, we picnicked in the gardens and the birds joined their voices to ours.
Not for the first time, I found myself marvelling at the power of music to banish care. For eight or nine hours, I completely lost myself in what must surely be the noblest of all arts, that art to which the German Romantic poet Franz Schober attributed the power, in times of darkness, to unlock the Heaven of better times and carry the listener to a better world. Those of you familiar with the lieder of another Franz (Schubert) know the poem as An die Musik, D.547.
It’s always hard to come back down to earth from the abode of the Muses. But I still have something to look forward to. This coming Saturday night, which also marks the end of the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah and of the Succot (Tabernacles) holiday, my choir – the Jerusalem Oratorio Chamber Choir – will be closing the Abu Ghosh Vocal Music Festival with a performance of the aforesaid Vespers, together with Vivaldi’s Gloria. After that, it really is back to the humdrum routine of daily life. Well, for another fortnight, that is. Because at the end of October, the choir is off to Germany for a concert tour.
But that’s another story.