EUROPEAN JEWISH CHOIR FESTIVAL HELD IN ITALY
BY ROSSELLA TERCATIN
Over 230 choir members and musicians have gathered in Ferrara (Italy) for the seventh edition of the European Jewish Choir Festival.
The Festival was inaugurated on Thursday and will end on Sunday, featuring several exhibitions by ensembles from five different countries: Ha-Kol (Rome, Italy), Wiener Judischer Chor (Wien, Austria), Les Polyphonies Hebraiques (Strasbourg, France), Ensemble Choral Copernic (Paris, France), The Zemel Choir (London, UK) and Shtrudl – Band (Lviv, Ukraine).
The choirs are exhibiting both at the Museum of Italian Judaism and the Holocaust in Ferrara and the city's Municipal Theatre, offering a repertoire that ranges from klezmer songs to Italian opera pieces.
"The Festival was born a bit fortuitously in 2012 in London. After the U.K., it was held in Vienna, Rome, London, St. Petersburg, Lviv and now Ferrara," Riccardo Di Castro, President of the Ha-Kol Choir, said in a statement. "Each city opened its arms to us, providing beautiful venues, from the Marble Arch synagogue in London to the Argentina Theatre in Rome and the Academic Glinka Capella in St. Petersburg. For amateur choirs, like those participating in the Festival, it is an honor to enter these sanctuaries of music." "Jews have always sung, played and composed music, even in the most tragic moments of their history," he added. "This event offers an opportunity for cultural exchange between different musical traditions, for the groups involved to get to know each other, to understand and interact with the city that welcomes them."
"The spiritual affinity between Ferrara, music and Judaism is witnessed by the fact that the city was the birthplace of Vittore Veneziani – Director of La Scala in Milan until the promulgation of the racial laws and later reinstated in that position by Arturo Toscanini after the war," recalled Fortunato Arbib, the president of the local Jewish Community. Next year, the Festival is scheduled to take place in Jerusalem. "This baton is being passed on, sealing the ideal bond between Ferrara and one of the beating hearts of Judaism," noted MEIS Director Simonetta Della Seta.
By Barbara Sofer Simonetta Della Seta looks out of the large picture window of the converted prison onto a barren Italian field bordered by the Po River. In a few weeks, as the Jewish world begins a new Torah cycle with Genesis, here in Ferrara, the foundation will be poured for a building that bears the name of the first book of the Bible, where the large letters of the Hebrew text – “Bereshit bara...” – will be displayed for all to see, come they by foot or boat.
Una lunga scala, altissima, che arriva fino al cielo, sulla quale gli angeli salgono e scendono. 11 sogno di Giacobbe, una delle immagini più enigmatiche e suggestive del libro della Genesi, rappresenta il tema della ventesima Giornata della cultura ebraica, intitolata "I sogni, una scala verso il cielo".