Sunday 14 May, 4pm

Monday 15 May, 8pm


Joint choral concerts in Israel - 2006

Projects - international

The 2006 Choir of London tour to the Middle East aimed to build on a number of musical partnerships forged during the Choir’s inaugural visit to the region in December 2004. One such partnership involves the Sawa Choir, a Palestinian children’s choir based in Shafa ’Amr, in the Galilee region of northern Israel. A joint concert involving the Sawa Choir and a well-known Jewish-Israeli children’s ensemble, the Efroni Choir, was one of the outstanding highlights of the Choir of London’s first visit to the Middle East in 2004.

A trip up to Shafa ‘Amr at the start of the Choir of London’s May 2006 tour offered an ideal opportunity both to renew links with the Sawa Choir, and to work for the first time with its thriving adult counterpart, the al-Ba’ath Choir. Over the course of a two-day visit, visiting British singers worked alongside both groups, preparing a richly varied programme of music designed to explore point of contact between the choirs’ respective musical traditions. One such point of intersection was Byzantine chant, which constitutes a staple element of liturgical and concert repertoire for both the Sawa and Efroni choirs; another was the folksong, an important part of both Arabic and English secular choral canons. These overlaps enabled the creation of a collaborative programme which included elements of Arabic and Latin chant, renaissance polyphony, English madrigals, and traditional Arabic folksongs

The performance was further enriched by more substantial modern works which incorporate chant or folksong elements, such as John Tavener’s Funeral Ikos and Benjamin Britten’s The Twelve Apostles (the latter involving all three choirs singing together). The programme was eventually performed to a packed house at St Paul’s Anglican Church, under the joint direction of Rahib Haddad, conductor of the Sawa and al-Ba’ath choirs, and William Dawes, travelling with the Choir of London as guest conductor.

During their stay in the Galilee, Choir of London members enjoyed the generous hospitality of local singers, and were offered an insight into the life of the Palestinian Christian community living within Israel - a group whose voice is so rarely heard in the straightforwardly dichotomous ‘Israel-Palestine’ narrative which tends to dominate media presentations of the region.

Workshops with Sawa and al-Baath choirs, Shafa ’Amr

Concert, St Pauls’ Church, Shafa ‘Amr (with Sawa and al-Baath Choirs)

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