A major tour to the Middle East in 2007 afforded an opportunity to work again alongside three choirs in Israel with which the Choir of London has established close links: the al-Ba’ath and Sawa Choirs, based in the town of Shafa ‘Amr in the Galilee, and the Efroni Choir, a childrens’ ensemble in Emek Hefer, near Herzliyya. This project was sponsored in part by a grant from the British Council in Israel.


Building on the success of earlier joint projects in 2004 and 2006, members of the Choir of London returned to Shafa ‘Amr in April 2007 to work alongside the al-Ba’ath and Sawa choirs and their conductor Rahib Hadad. A workshop with the adult singers of the al-Ba’ath Choir explored a variety of European and Arab repertoire, mixing excerpts from Mozart’s Requiem with a number of well-known Palestinian Arabic songs. Highlights included a session on the quarter-tone, which for most of the British singers was a new departure!

Two workshops with the Sawa children’s choir featured a similarly diverse programmme, ranging from the Fairouz favourite Allah Ma’ak Ya Hawana to sections of John Rutter’s Mass of the Children.

As ever, the Shafa ‘Amr hospitality was quite overwhelming in its warmth and generosity. Home stays with local hosts ensured that Choir of London members enjoyed a first-hand glimpse into life in the Palestinian community within Israel.


A week later, the Choir of London visited Emek Hefer, home to the Efroni childrens’ choir, who has a long-standing partnership with the Sawa Choir.

A day of workshops with the Efroni choir began with a wonderful introduction to Yemenite Jewish song and dance led by Lea Abraham. This was followed by sessions led by Jeremy Summery and the Efroni Choir’s Maya Shavit, exploring a selection of English and Hebrew-language choral repertoire. Members of the Choir of London were later treated to an impromptu concert displaying the remarkable versatility and captivating, shimmering sound for which Efroni has become renowned. 

Jeremy Summerly rehearses the Sawa Choir in Shafa ‘Amr

Members of the Choir of London at the Sea of Galilee


Jeremy Summerly with Maya Shavit, of the Efroni Choir (left); Lea Abraham leads a workshop on Yemenite Jewish song and dance (right, above and below)


The Weill Auditorium in Kfar Shmaryahu, north of Tel Aviv, hosted the culmination of this series of activities in Israel: a collaborative concert for which the Choir of London was joined by both the Sawa and Efroni children’s ensembles. A mixed programme of European, Hebrew and Arabic music was conducted by Rahib Hadad, Eva de Mayo, Maya Shavit, and Jeremy Summerly. As part of the concert the Choir of London gave première performances of two new a cappella pieces by British composers written especially for the occasion: Anthony Pitts’ The Peace of Jerusalem, and Trembling for Joy by John Streeting.

Jeremy Summerly conducts the combined forces of the Efroni Choir, the Sawa Choir, and the Choir of London in rehearsal at the Weill Auditorium, Kfar Shmaryahu


Joint choral concerts in Israel - 2007

Projects - international

Monday 2 April, 2.30pm

Tuesday 3 April, 10am

Tuesday 10 April, 5pm

Wednesday 11 April, 2pm

Workshop with Sawa and al-Baath Choirs, Shafa ’Amr

Workshop and informal concert with Sawa and al-Baath Choirs, Shafa ’Amr

Workshop and informal concert with Efroni Choir, Emek Hefer

Concert with Sawa and Efroni Choirs, Weill Auditorium, Kfar Shmaryahu

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