Jerusalem: the Sounding Jerusalem Festival is back

From 20th to 27th August 2019, for the third year running, the Sounding Jerusalem music festival is once again bringing life to the most picturesque spots in the Old City of Jerusalem, this year in partnership with the MagnificatInstitute of the music of the Custody of the Holy Land, based in Jerusalem.

The Sounding Jerusalem festival was held for the first time in 2006. Originally the person behind it and current director, the Austrian cellist Erich Oskar Huetter, held it in Jerusalem, Israel, and Palestine, giving it a humanist task and a political subtext. "The festival," commentedHuetter, "was conceived as an artistic and musical provocation to division: we ignored dividing walls, real and mental ones, to show that we can all create worlds of illusion and persuade ourselves that they give more meaning to life rather than facing up to reality." The Festival continued this way for a few years before being brought to an end by the director himself.

Resumed only three years ago under a new light, the festival today aims to innovate chamber music and promote dialogue with the other, contributing, with music, to the interaction and respect, collaboration and communication, regardless of the ethnic, social and personal religious aspects. "When we returned we met the Magnificat," saidHuetter. "What we found at the Institute is high, I would say professional, artistic and education level. This partnership, which has lasted for three years but which became concrete this year in a more complete way, is not only bureaucratic but also concerns human relations. The students and the teachers are people with whom we share something, starting from the musical experience and the more we get to know one another, the more we help each other."

The Magnificat Institute of Jerusalem, founded in 1995 and linked to the "A. Pedrollo" Conservatory of Music of Vicenza (Italy) is a centre of excellence for music which offers access to musical professions in the fields of education, the arts, concerts and the liturgy, adopting the teaching programmes of the Conservatory for all the levels of the basic teaching. The following are taught at the Magnificat: Piano, Violin, Viola, Violoncello, Organ, Singing, Guitar, Composition, Flute, Percussion, Choral Music, Solfeggio and the History of Music. The Institute and its teachers work to allow a different musical experience and to encourage a career in music for the local youngsters, fostering dialogue between the different social backgrounds without creating any differences at all. The interaction with the Festival, says Fr. Alberto Pari, Director of the Magnificat, was initially only logistic, considering that the school premises are not used in August due to the summer holidays. "Then they suggested some Masterclasses for some of the more advanced students to be materialized in a possible concert which, since then, has been held every year. On our side, there has always been great enrichment: the students come face to face with new stimuli, new challenges and new teachers in a highly professional context."

"It is a very important professional experience for the youngsters, at both the educational and musical levels,” comments Fr. Pari, "because it allows them to meet many young musicians with a background that is different from theirs, but who have the same passion. All emerge enriched and motivated from this experience."

Giovanni Malaspina

Photo credit: Christian Jungwirth