The Magnificat Hosts the Sounding Jerusalem Festival

There is still a feeling of summer vacation at the Magnificat Institute in Jerusalem, and yet the musical institute has already gotten back to work. The Custody’s Music School, located at St. Savior’s Monastery, hosted two concerts of the Sounding Jerusalem Festival on August 29 and 30, a music show composed of international and local musicians. There are six different events at different places in Jerusalem’s old town, to conclude with the seventh concert at dawn on the Mount of Temptations in Jericho. “We want to create a space that is open to everyone that we fill with music,” said Erich Oskar Huetter, director of the festival. “In this area especially, it is very important to foster human connections and encounters.”

On the first two nights hosted by the Magnificat, five musicians performed on the piano, violin, viola and cello. With their instruments and the music of Mozart and Schumann, they wanted to inspire “a sense of departure,” as suggested by the name of the event. In the second concert, on August 30, the students of the Custody’s academy performed. “We met the director of the festival in February, when he came here to Jerusalem to give some master classes, and that is where our friendship was born,” explained Fr. Alberto Pari, director of the Magnificat. During the week, the festival team hosted a workshop for the most deserving students, who then performed on August 30. A cellist, two pianists and four violinists were among the students, with the participation of a teacher, they performed a concert entitled “Promised Visions.”

The first ever Sounding Jerusalem Festival took place in 2006 and was repeated every year until 2011. After a long absence, it returned in 2017 with a new edition of concerts. Director Erich Oskar Huetter stated, “It’s nothing religious, social or political, but we only try to stay open to anyone who wants to hear classical music. If you are promoting dialogue, this is something that can happen, and this is why the theme of this edition is “On Possibilities,” he continued. “It’s something that will happen. It’s just music, but it [means] a lot.” The concert that was a symbol of the festival will be held on August 31 at the top of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. Musicians positioned on different terraces will be dialoguing through the music, responding to each other with different notes. “Perhaps nobody will understand the words, almost as if they were talking in Morse code, but they will be playing. The idea is to [figuratively] make a connection through the air that is not possible on land,” said Erich Oskar Huette. The protagonists of the event will be musicians from Bethlehem and from the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and Europe.

After hosting the Sounding Jerusalem Festival, the Magnificat Institute is preparing to reopen the doors. The first day of lessons is September 8, and many challenges await the music school this year. “We have musicians from all over Europe who want to come together, [and] we have a greater number of students–more than 220. By the end of the year, we will have the school’s first graduate,” said Fr. Alberto. Piano, violin, viola, cello, guitar, classical percussion, voices, bassoon, oboe, clarinet, trumpet and trombone are the disciplines that will be studied and several tours throughout Europe are also scheduled, so to always stay on a musical journey.

Beatrice Guarrera

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