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At the end of December 1999, an Arabic and an Israeli choir gave a signal for peace on a tour (Jerusalem, Vienna, Düsseldorf) together with Timna Brauer & Elias Meiri Ensemble: orthodox Jews sang about Maria and Allah, Christians and Moslems recited Yom Kippur prayers. Cultural and political barriers melted and the magic of music filled the audience as well as the 35 artists on stage.

In Israel there is a lot of effort put into trying to organize an encounter between Arabian and Jewish artists. What occasionally succeeds among individual, intellectual musicians, seems to collide with unbreakable political barriers at the institutional level e.g. with orchestras and choirs.

This is a unique coming together of an Arabic and Jewish choir, who interpret, together with soloists and an orchestra, songs of one God, two nations and three religions.

The repertoire includes songs from Moslem liturgy, Byzantine church chorals, Chassidic* and synagogue songs, sephardic* and Yemenite tunes, to arrangements of the Carmina Burana and original compositions from Timna Brauer and Eli Meiri.The emphasis is on the music of the three religions from the Mediterranean region and the contact points and crossing links among them. The Yemenite songs for example are reminiscent of Gregorian chants, and the oriental Jewish melodies work as a connecting link between Chassidic singing and Arabic cadence.

What we are striving for is to free the old works from their antique and often stiff characters, to renew them with the contemporary musical approach without compromising their essence. The interpretation of Timna Brauer and Eli Meiri contribute to outlining a unified piece out of the eclecticism.

The Ensemble Ud al Nad from the Arabic city of Nazareth was recruited for this project. Muslims and Christians perform together, led by the young director Katy Jarjoura. The Jewish-Israelis are represented by the Collegium Tel-Aviv, directed by the choir specialist, Avner Itai.

lt is possible to overcome contrasts in cultures and religions by changing roles while not feeling as a stranger in the new role. Music seems to enable sublimation and transcendence, and in this way draws us from prejudice and defense. The cello imitates an oud* and the oboe d'amore reminds of a zuma*. Jews sing about Allah and Maria, Moslems recite Yom Kippur* prayers, Israelis sing in Arabic.

"The bringing together of the two choirs was so sensitive and complex. Nevertheless it was worth it. The outcome surpassed all my expectations: two worlds don't have to collide when two choirs are in tune with each other. Black like crows, they bemoan their dead, yet in a colourful dialogue, they unfold into doves of peace".

Timna Brauer

*The Chassidics were scholars from Eastern Europe, who set prayers to music and danced to it during the 18th-century. A connection between spirituality and love of life.

*Sepharad is the biblical term for the Iberian Peninsula. Sephards were the Jews, who settled down in the Mediterranean region of after being deported from Spain.

*Oud = an arabic Lute

*Zuma = a Turkish oboe

*Yom Kippur is the most important Jewish holiday, the Day of Atonement