Inaugural Liturgical Festival - Polyphony
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Inaugural Liturgical Festival

Inaugural Liturgical Festival

Polyphony’s first-ever Liturgical Music Festival took place this weekend in Nazareth with performances from the Hannover Collegium Vocale Choir, the Galilee Chamber Orchestra, the Tel Aviv Collegium Singers, the Israeli Brass Quintet, and the Latin-American Folk Ensemble, as well as several leading Israeli soloists, in the city’s notable venues, including the Salesian Church, the Maronite Church, and the Industrial Park Auditorium.

The Festival’s Artistic Director, Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, writes that “Classical music has always been a sublime language for me, a magical outlet that transcends language differences, places, and time. It is a way to convey ideas and feelings, and unite people from heart to heart.

There is a natural connection between the history of the city of Nazareth and its origins and traditions and classical music. Drawing on a desire to unite and create a dialogue that will dissolve cultural, social and religious barriers, the Liturgical Festival was born.

As a Nazarene musician and educator, I am proud to say that the vision has become a living, breathing and prosperous reality. Each year, thousands of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian students learn the magic of classical music in Nazareth and Israel through our programs. We bring together musicians of all religions to perform in Nazareth, the country, and worldwide in or youth orchestra and the Galilee Chamber Orchestra, making classical music a part of the cultural complex of community life.”

Saleem Ashkar, the director and conductor of the Galilee Chamber Orchestra, said, “The idea [behind the orchestra] was to create a musical ecosystem. You can’t teach children without developing an audience. You can’t teach children if they don’t have an objective. And you have to bring in good soloists for them to listen to. You can’t teach them in a vacuum.”

Ashkar says that one good thing leads to another, and that the ecosystem in question is a self-nurturing entity.

“All these families, of hundreds of children who learn to play music, their parents are an audience, and audience that is hungry and to see and to hear the music. It’s not that, say, the mother played piano and now the child plays piano. The parents don’t know anything about music, but their kid plays. You are cultivating a first generation of musicians. But to teach a child, you have to speak to his or her parents first. That’s the way it goes.”

Nabeel Abboud Ashkar was thrilled with the performances and the audience. “The second concert on Friday morning was overbooked, we had to add chairs and some people were sitting on the stairs. The Friday evening concert [the biggest production of the festival] was packed. We had to stop ticket sales at some point. The music was heavenly and people came from all around the country, even as far as Beer Sheva, a 2.5 hours drive each way!”

The Festival’s program included a performance of Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, with 85 vocalists and instrumentalists on stage at the same time, Benjamin Britten’s popular Ceremony of Carols, and a special South American Christmas Holiday Concert featuring folklore compositions. Compositions by Bach, Brahms, Fauré, Purcell, Tallis and Elgar were also in the liturgical repertoire mix.

The Liturgical Festival provides an opportunity for audiences from around the world to come to Nazareth and experience, together, classical liturgical music in the city’s special Christmas atmosphere.

Classical music has always been a sublime language for me, a magical outlet that transcends language differences, places, and time. It is a way to convey ideas and feelings, and unite people from heart to heart.

Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, Festival Artistic Director

Each year, thousands of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian students learn the magic of classical music in Nazareth and Israel through our programs. We bring together musicians of all religions to perform in Nazareth, the country, and worldwide in or youth orchestra and the Galilee Chamber Orchestra, making classical music a part of the cultural complex of community life.

Check out the Jerusalem Post’s Culture Report (click to open)

Enjoy photos from the Festival

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