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March 16, 2009March 16, 2009  0 comments  Music

Deep in the heartland of Israel, in the area known as the Elah Valley, close to open fields and the JNF's Britain Forest, there is an old Turkish building which was once a Khan or way-station for travellers.

The building houses a musical family. The mother, Kochava Taragan, an accomplished flautist, arranges chamber concerts which are held on the terrace or in the large living room every Saturday at noon. Before the concert everyone is treated to a bowl of nourishing soup with home-made croutons. The chamber ensembles, often including Kochava herself, play a selection of pieces for an hour or two, often interspersed by some words of explanation. Sometimes the birds outside add their own contribution to the music. Afterwards most of the audience repairs to one of the local restaurants for lunch, though if you have not booked a table in advance you might find yourself obliged to go home. Great restaurants nearby include Pa'amon (meat) and Tavlin (Dairy). Both are located on Route 38, near Beit Shemesh.


Performances are held almost every  Saturday at 12:30 p.m., and soup begins at 12 p.m. The next performance is on March 27th.

Call 02-9915786 for reservations.




August 25, 2009August 25, 2009  2 comments  Music

Laudamus Te (We praise you), the German orchestra and choir founded and directed by Monica Meira Vasques, will visit Israel in September for three free performances of the Oratorio Saul, composed by Handel in 1738; 10 September at Kfar Blum in the Galilee; 11 September in Ein Gedi near the Dead Sea and 12 September in the Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. The celebration marks the 250th anniversary of the death of composer George Fridiric Handel 250 years ago. 


One of the primary goals of this joint German-Israeli project, the fourth musical collaboration under Ms. Vasques, is to use the common language of music to develop and maintain friendships with the Jewish people. 


The Oratorio Saul closely follows the Biblical narrative of the relations between David and Saul. The open air concert on 11 September will take place at 21:00 at the Ein Gedi resort, a short distance from the cave in which David hid from King Saul.


The concert will feature 60 musicians, including the Choir and Orchestra Laudamus Te from Stuttgart, guest musicians from the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance and soloists from Israel, Germany and Brazil, conducted by Monica Meira Vasques.

November 23, 2009November 23, 2009  0 comments  Events

The Abu Gosh winter concert series begins this Saturday night with a special concert program celebrating the music of Bob Seeger and Joan Baez. Periodically over the next few months, special Saturday night concerts will be performed at the Church of the Ark of the Covanent.

Abu Gosh is an Arab village situated in a beautiful natural setting near Jerusalem;  ten minutes away from the city, near the Jerusalem - Tel Aviv highway. It has a number of attractive features that turn it into a very special visit. The village has a fascinating history going back over 500 years, whose remains are still visible around the village. It was built over the ruins of the biblical town of Kiryat Ye'arim, which is believed to be one of the stops for the Ark of the Covenant when it was moved from Beit Shemesh to its resting place in Jerusalem. The Romans built a large fort here, above the spring, and later on the Crusaders established a monastery on the same site, which served both as a church and as a military headquarters for many years. Festival concerts are held in this church, in the middle of the village, and in the Church of the Ark of the Covenant further up the hill.

Another fascinating feature of Abu Gosh is the unique convergence of the three monotheistic faiths. The churches and monasteries stand near the mosque and in the midst of the local Muslim residents, creating a special atmosphere for the wide variety of visitors who stroll through the village during the Festival - Muslims, Jews and Christians. During the 1948 war, the city stayed out of the fighting and many believe that because of this, the village remained within the green line border that was put in place after the 1948 hour. The current population of 7,000 consists mostly of  Palestinian Arabs. Its location in the beautiful Judean Hills, combined with its reputation as a peaceful and open village has drawn approximately 40 Jewish families to live there as well.

Since 1992,  Abu Gosh Festival has been home to Israel's most celebrated festival of vocal music. The 3-5 day festival is held twice a year- in October, during the holiday of Sukkot, and in May, during the holiday of Shavuot.

Twice each year, the village of Abu Gosh turns into a paradise for lovers of vocal music. Abu Gosh offers a unique combination of a beautiful village in a wonderful setting, lovely churches with the best acoustics in Israel, rich and varied musical programs, and a special type of audience, which comes both to listen and to sing.

Today the Abu Gosh Festival is the most important and prominent vocal music festival in Israel. Festival concerts are held in churches - the 12th Century Crusader Church with its noted for its amazing Byzantine frescos and its crypt, and the Church of the Ark of the Covenant. Both venues have excellent acoustics, remarkable beauty, and a very special atmosphere. Concerts are also held outside in the lovely courtyard of the Church of the Ark of the Covenant, simultaneously at five locations. The vocal music concerts are of the highest quality, with a predominantly liturgical repertoire, and are performed by top-notch soloists  choirs, and orchestras from Israel and abroad, including rare pieces which receive their première in Israel at Abu Gosh.

Most of the programs played during the Festival are from the Baroque and Renaissance periods, and are performed by top level ensembles. The Festival also serves as a highly respected and attractive venue for many artists and choirs from all over the world. Every year a large audience attends the events, comprised of music lovers of all ages; their presence turns the musical events in and around the churches, as well as the entire area, into colourful and lively spectacle. Many festival goers attend the concerts in the churches, and enjoy the wide range of musical events in the groves and gardens of the monastery, in a pleasant atmosphere.

The tradition of communal singing by audience and choirs at Abu Gosh has become very popular. The Festival administration encourages and nurtures this tradition. Sitting in the shade of tall pine trees, the audiences joins in singing chorales and madrigals, and even arranged folk-songs, under the baton of well known conductors.


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