I’ve had a wonderful time this past week, both musically and otherwise, thanks to the visit of the Zamirchor from Bayreuth, who visited Israel for the first time between March 21st and March 27th. The Zamirchor hosted us in the past, in Bayreuth – I have written about this in a previous post – and we also took part in two joint projects with them, in New York and in Geneva and Annecy. This time, it was our turn to host our friends from Germany, who were here to participate in another musical project with us – two performances of Mozart’s Requiem, in Jerusalem and in Herzliya, and a (mostly) a cappella concert in one of the churches in Jerusalem’s Old City. The latter was good and the two Mozart concerts were excellent – opinions being divided as to which of the two was the better. My personal opinion – shared, I believe, by the majority – was that the Saturday night concert in Jerusalem’s Henry Crown Auditorium, was something really special, thanks, in no small measure, to the magnificent conducting of Ronen Borshevsky who was not only inspired, but who inspired all of us. There was an indefinable kind of energy in the air. When orchestra and choir fell silent after the last, mighty, reverberating “Quia pius es“, someone in the audience shouted “Bravo” and a storm of applause followed. It was one of those occasions when you know you have given your best and that it was really, really good.
In addition to the musical side, this reciprocal visit by Zamirchor was also a great social success. On the first evening, we hosted them to a buffet supper in the YMCA, before our first rehearsal together. All the food was prepared by JOCC members, thus demonstrating our culinary skills. Most of the Germans were hosted by JOCC members in their own homes, so I guess our visitors had plenty of opportunities to sample Israeli home cuisine. Then there was the hike and picnic at Sataf, in the hills around Jerusalem – more food. I had volunteered an “Israeli salad” – but when I went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients, I found that not only were there no tomatoes – there were no fresh vegetables at all! Since it was a Friday morning and we were due at the Henry Crown Auditorium for a rehearsal at 11 o’clock, there was no time to go to the supermarket and I was forced to be very creative – by which I mean I just threw in whatever was available 😉 .
Amazingly, considering its popularity and its close proximity to Jerusalem, I had never been to Sataf before. Everything was in our favour. The weather was glorious – a beautiful spring day, with the wild flowers in bloom and the birds singing in a cloudless blue sky.
Then there was the varied fauna we met on the way…..
We passed flowering almond trees, and an ancient olive press and eventually found ourselves in a wooded copse where, finding the acoustics amenable, we did what we always do best. We sang. Since the Zamirchor also knew David de Sola’s arrangement of “Adon Olam” (“Lord of the Universe”) – indeed, we had sung it together at the concert the previous evening, with Yours Truly as one of the two soloists – that’s what we sang. I have it on video, but have so far been unable to upload it to YouTube (I’ve been having problems with uploading videos of late), so you’ll just have to take my word for it .
The hike ended with a picnic by the spring, where we spread table cloths on a low stone wall and set out the many and varied offerings prepared by the members of JOCC, buffet style.
I don’t know, maybe it was the combination of fresh air, good food and exercise, that made us sing so well that evening 😉 .
The Zamirchor visit ended Tuesday night with a farewell party at the Jerusalem Khan, an old Turkish caravanserai now converted into a theatre and restaurant complex.
The music and dancing was still going strong when I left at about 11:40 pm.
For myself, I felt much more “connected” to the Germans than during our previous encounters. Maybe it’s because this was already our fourth project together and it takes time for me really to get to know people. Then again, maybe it’s simply that I feel more relaxed and able to open up to others when I’m on my home turf. One thing I can say for sure – I can’t wait for our next project together 🙂 .