Abu Gosh and the hills of Jerusalem

It is the first time that I am attending a concert in one of the Abu Gosh festivals events. Hold during the holidays season in the Arab village located on the highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem close to the capital (also famous for the best humous in Israel) the festival takes place twice a year on Shavuot and Sucot in the ambiance of the local churches.

the church at Kiryat Yearim

The location of the church of Kiryat Yearim where the concert took place has a high historical and religious meaning. It is said to lay on the place where the house of Abinabad hosted the Ark of the Covenant (Aron haBrit) for twenty years before King David took it to Jerusalem. A byzantine church was built here in the 5th century, and on its ruins the present church, with a beautiful statue of Virgin Mary on its roof was built in 1924.

the statue of Virgin Mary

The concert I attended yesterday was one in a series of four concerts given by The University of Utah Singers, the principal guests of the festival which is dedicated to vocal music. It’s a well-known ensemble, with a very wide repertoire encompassing vocal music of many periods and genres, from baroque religious music, through Schubert and Brahms, until gospels and contemporary musicals. All were represented in the program yesterday, which in one and a half hour gave us a taste of the principal genres the choir approaches. The conductor was Brady Allred, and the acoustics in the church were perfect. I think that choir music – especially religious – sounds better in churches as in any other places, same as jazz music sounds better in clubs that in any other places.

the concert in the church

I especially enjoyed the Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer, with their exquisite music and fine words, each of the 18 songs is a short poem, kind of love haiku which can be enjoyed even if your German (as mine) is not perfect.

Am Donaustrande, da steht ein Haus

Da schaut ein rosiges Madchen aus

Das madchen, es ist wohl gut gehegt,

Zehn eiserne Riegel sind for die Ture gelegt.

Zehn eiserne Riegel – das is ein Spass:

Die spreng’is, als warensie nur von Glas

(A house stands on Donaustrande

A rosy maid waiting inside

The maid is properly protected

By ten iron locks at the gate.

Ten iron locks – what a joke:

I will break them as if they were made of glass)


Nachtigall, sie singt so schon,

Wenn die Sterne funkeln.

Liebe mich, gelibtes Herz,

Kusse mich im Dunkeln!

(Nightingale, You sing so fine,

Under the sparkling stars,

Love me, my heart,

Kiss me in the dark)

the singers

There is quite a lot of the fine music of the University of Utah singers available on YouTube. Here are a few of them which I hope that you will enjoy:

(all videos source UofUtahSingers)