It’s been a most enjoyable week for me. (I refer solely to the personal aspect. On the political front, both international and domestic, things are looking less than promising, but for the sake of my blood pressure, and so as not to spoil the weekend, I shall leave that for my next blog…)
Starting last Friday, most of the morning, and a good part of the afternoon, was given over to the General Rehearsal for the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir’s end-of-the-season concert, which took place on Saturday night. (My apologies to Possum the MagnifiCat, whose 13th birthday on July 4th was sadly neglected for this reason) We performed the Gloria by Vivaldi with the full choir (about 140 singers) and then the Chamber Choir performed the Te Deum by Charpentier. For those of you who aren’t into classical music and who may think they don’t know the latter work, let me assure you – you do (at least, you do if you are European). Remember the Eurovision theme tune? That’s the Prelude from the Te Deum. In both these works, we were partnered by the Israel Camerata.
After the interval, the full choir returned to the stage where we were joined by a fantastic soloist, Yonit Shaked-Golan, (whose voice recalls that of the late, great, Shoshana Damari), and the wonderful Ensemble Folklorico Latinoamericano for the Missa Criolla by contemporaryArgentinian composer Ariel Ramirez. The Ensemble, which plays on authentic instruments, further enlivened the evening with a selection of folk music from Argentina and the Andes.
The Henry Crown Symphony Hall, which has a seating capacity of 750, was packed. On Monday night, the 589-seatAlex Meir Auditorium at the Palace of Culture in Or Akiva (near Caesarea) was less full – Shmulik says he counted about 320 – but the audience was no less enthusiastic. Despite the climatic conditions (somewhere in the mid 30s Celsius, above the average for this time of year) and the fact that half of us made the 2 hour journey north in a bus without functioning air-conditioning, I think we sang even better at this second performance.
I didn’t get to bed until about 1 a.m. and would have been happy to sleep late the following day, but since I had to be in court by a quarter to nine, that luxury was denied me. Fortunately, I had a relatively easy day, with my favourite judge – surprisingly so, when you consider that the two week run-up to Summer Recess is usually the most hectic period in the judicial year. And then, in the evening, I met Pati (see my Friends’ List). Pati is from France, and she is the first of my Internet friends whom I have met face to face. We went out for coffee at a bookshop-café and spent an enjoyable three hours discussing everything under the sun – which included a lot of Girl Talk . Pati, if you are reading this, I want to say once again, how lovely it was meeting you. I hope you’ll come to Jerusalem again, soon. Three days is too short a visit. Remember, Israel is your home.
Wednesday evening was made memorable by Oratorio’s end-of-the-season party, at which each of the 4 choirs which make up the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir, showed what they could do. But I think the highlights of the evening were, without question, the performances given by two of Oratorio’s conductors, both of whom proved that as well as being superb musicians, they are really "part of the gang". Flora, of the Women’s Choir, performed a comic operatic duet in Hebrew and Russian, in costume, with one of the members of her choir, which had us all in fits. In this, she was following a tradition she has already established, although we usually get to see it only at Purim.
The other star of the evening was our own, inimitable Ronen, who, as well as conducting the Chamber Choir, is also Musical Director and Conductor-in-Chief of the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir. I have already mentioned, in a previous blog, his talent as a darbouka player. On Wednesday evening, he wowed us all with his rendition of "It Ain’t Necessarily So", from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. We of the Chamber Choir were his backing group, although we received the sheet notes only an hour or so in advance, and there was no time for a rehearsal with him. Fortunately, after ten years together, you might say we all know each other pretty well, and can anticipate each other’s moves. I would say, for an impromptu performance, it wasn’t at all bad.
Thursday and Friday were more or less uneventful, although as I was writing this blog last night, the news came through of a Palestinian terrorist attack near the Lions’ Gate of the Old City. The Sons of Darkness have always had a penchant for attacking Jews on our holy day. Fortunately, this time there were no fatalities, at least at the time of writing. Let us pray that that does not change and that the two wounded – one of them seriously – will speedily recover. More about this in my next blog, when more information should be available…