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Original Abu-Gosh Music Festival
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Aryeh Oron wrote [to BCML] (May 29, 2004):
Dear list members, especially the Israelis,
It has become a tradition around Easter time for one of the most interesting musical events in Israel to take place, an event that few real music lovers care to miss. Every Saturday, during the month of May a stream of people could be seen heading in the direction of Abu Gosh-Kiryath Yearim in order to participate in the Music Festival which was held there.
It was quite different from other festivals and from other concerts; the place was unlike other venues and even the audience was not quite the same as the regular concert-going audience. The concerts were performed in a church possessing most remarkable acoustics, which heighten the beauty of the sounds created therein.
The programme was mostly drawn from Christian liturgical music, the performers were mainly Jewish and the audience was a mixed one - Jews, Christians and Moslems. Here, a small island of brotherhood and understanding was created. Here, a common language was wrought – the language of music.
The idea first took shape at meetings which were held for music lovers in the early 'fifties. Professor Felix Gad Sulman used to take his choir from Jerusalem to musical tours in Abu Gosh Church. Its character as a festival emerged in 1957 when the conductor Sigi Stadermann took over the musical direction. To this end he formed the Festival Choir and Orchestra which, during its 15 years of existence (1957-1972), attracted besides amateurs professional musicians from all parts of the country. They were all united by the exciting experience of playing music that was hardly ever performed elsewhere in Israel.
What the Original Abu-Gosh Music Festival has to do with Bach? A lot indeed. This was the place where many of Bach's vocal works were firstly performed in Israel, including Matthaus-Passion, Johannes-Passion, Weihnachts-Oratorium, most of the Motets and about dozen Cantatas
I have launched a new website dedicated to the Original Abu-Gosh Music Festival, actually a sub-website of the BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/AG/AG.htm
Matthew Neugebauer wrote (May 30, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] Aryeh-why did it stop in '72? Political pressure?
Boyd Joel Pehrson [Santa Barbara, California] wrote (May 30, 2004):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you for all of your work on this. The programmes look substantial, and wouldn't we certainly enjoy such concerts today! This sort of concert idea is what feeds the creative side of humanity, and ameliorates the destructive side. I'll look forward to reading each of the programmes. Thank you for all your hard work on the BC site, I really do receive so much good from all your efforts!
Eitan Loew wrote (May 30, 2004):
As usual, you deserve, Aryeh, all the compliments that one could say for your wonderful work!
As one who attended all the concerts at Abu-Gosh from 1960 and on, let me add a few words:
At those times, the opportunities to listen to music in Israel were quite limited: one orchestra, a bad opera, some chamber music performed. There was only one radio channel, classical music broadcasted only a few hours a day. But the worst was that Christian liturgical music was banned, as well as any German text (including Beethoven's 9th - only an English version, Furtwangler's I believe, was permitted on the radio). You can imagine that Bach's cantatas were unknown to music lovers!
In this circumstances, the Abu-Gosh festival was a kind of "semi-underground" activity... Most of the performers were enthusiastic amateurs, and if there were some professionals I guess that they charged very little, if at all. The performers as well as the audience felt that they are experiencing a kind of a pioneering act. That was an outstanding opportunity to get acquainted to an unknown world. Without any advertisement, music lovers told about it to each others, and from one year to another it became harder to get tickets.
Some 15-20 years ago the festival has been renewed, but on a merely commercial basis (yesterday I listened to BWV 11 there); however, now Israel became a country where one can listen to all kinds of music, having an orchestra in every little town, a great opera house, endless chamber music performances and all kinds of music festivals. I am confident that the original Abu-Gosh festival can be appreciated as an important link in the process of this development.
Besides the nostalgia, Aryeh did an important historian's job.
Boyd Joel Pehrson wrote (May 30, 2004):
Thank you for all your work regarding the documentation of Abu-Gosh Music Festival, and making it available to the general (internet) reader. May I assume Sigi Stadermann is still among the living, in N.Y.C.? If so, perhaps you could interview him regarding his work at Abu-Gosh Music Festival. You do great interviews. Anyway, I really appreciate and enjoy your hard work n the BC site.
Elke Chaiken wrote (May 31, 2004):
II was delighted to find your website about the Abu Gosh music festival and read everything with great interest.
I met Sigi Stadermann in Ramat Gan in 1962 and we became lifelong friends. In 1973 Sigi emigrated to the US and is living happily in New York City, the capital of America. He goes to concerts and jazz clubs at least three times a week and attends many other cultural events. He also travels to Europe at least once a year and is intellectually and physically in very good shape.
Unfortunately we don't see each other very often, because we live in the country, but we telephone frequently. He promised to come and visit us soon so that he can look at your website on our computer. Hopefully I can encourage him to send you an e-mail from here.
Thanks for sharing the Abu Gosh experience with the world. I will pass this on to many friends who also know and appreciate Sigi.
Lois Darlington wrote (July 1, 2004):
My name is Lois Darlington, and I am a neighbor and friend of Sigi Stadermann's. He has told us about your wonderful project, creating a website full of information about his Abu-Gosh Festival. It is so exciting to know that someone is doing this, and so kind of you to do it! He talks about it often; preparing material for you is his current project. [snip]
I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you very much again for this incredible effort! The website looks wonderful and we look forward to contributing.
Shula Mapper wrote (July 4, 2004):
Lois Darlington wrote (July 24, 2004):
[After adding the posters of concerts]
Wonderful! I will look for the posters on the website.
Lois Darlington wrote (July 24, 2004):
I have just looked at the posters. They look good! It's great that you could put them in chronological order so quickly! I was imagining it would take longer.
The pictures of him this summer are very funny! I'm glad you added those. I will try to find a somewhat more "formal" picture of him to add and e-mail it to you.
Have a good weekend, and thanks again!
Lois Darlington wrote (July 25, 2004):
[After adding Sigi’s photos from New York]
Thank you! He just came over this afternoon and we discovered these were already up, only one hour after I had sent them. He got to see a sampling of the posters, photos, and articles. He is amazed at how thorough you are!