20 Magnificent Years
June 7th 2015
The Magnificat Institute celebrates 20 years of activity
Haig Vosgueritchian, Mirjam Younan, Hani Kreitem, Jiries Boullata….These are just a few names of the many professional musicians who graduated from the Magnificat Institute in Jerusalem.
Established in 1995 by the composer and organist Fr. Armando Pierucci, the music school of the Custody of The Holy Land celebrated its 20 years with a special event that took place Sunday, June 7 at the Auditorium Immaculata in the Old City of Jerusalem. The event soon turned in a real party whose invitees included the students and their families, friends of the school, representatives of different religious orders, ambassadors and consuls, intellectuals and music lovers.
A performance of Jiries Boullata’s Arabic Rhapsody opened the evening. While the musicians played, on the screen behind them was projected a slideshow of photos telling the story of the Magnificat, a school open to all religions and nationalities. Following the screening of a video of Fr. Armando discussing the beginnings of that fabulous adventure called Magnificat, the director of the school Br. David Grénier gave a speech in which he traced the achievements of the institute (like the opening of the Academic courses in collaboration with the “Arrigo Pedrollo” Conservatory of Vicenza in Italy) and he thanked all the people and organizations that worked so tirelessly to create right here in Jerusalem, a place where music brings together in harmony people coming from different backgrounds. A special mention was given to Hania Soudah Sabbara who directed the institute with passion and energy since its inception.
The Magnificat Institute would not have existed without the support of the Custody of The Holy Land. Representing the Custody was the Custodial Vicar Fr. Dobromir Jasztal who, addressing the audience in the hall, remembered the objectives of the school: to serve the liturgy of the Latin Church (the Magnificat is in charge of the choir that sings during the major events of the liturgical calendar) and to offer a service to the local community (Christian and not). And this is why the Magnificat has become a place of study and dialogue.
The climax of the evening was the 11th Magic Lamp, an annual festival of Arabic songs for children. These songs, written and composed specifically for this occasion, are then published in booklets that are distributed to the schools of the region. Sharing the stage with the children of the Magnificat Yasmeen Buds Choir, were the students of the Schmidt College who sang and performed choreographies inspired by the songs. The journalist Eman Al-Qassem, who hosted the event, introduced each piece delighting the audience with her storytelling skills.
Accompanying the young artists were the Magnificat Orchestra (conducted by Robert Canetti), the Schmidt Oriental Ensemble (featuring also students from the Edward Said Conservatory of Music) and at the piano Hani Kreitem, Jiries Boullata and Haig Vosgueritchian.
The choir conductor was Mirjam Younan, festival curator together with Hani Kreitem.
The songs presented (composed by Rida Mabjish, Joseph Hazboun, Mirjam Younan, Jiries Boullata and Haig Vosgueritchian) deal with issues relating to childhood like the mother, road safety, the school. Sadly, the reality of kids living in this part of the world includes also war and violence, thus the songs “In Gaza” evoking the war of last summer and “Children of the World”, a hymn to peace.
Endless applauses marked the end of each song, the audience wanting to acknowledge not only the young artists on the stage but also the hard work that the Magnificat has been doing all these years.
What is a birthday party without a cake? At the end of the concert, Br. David presented a cake and invited all the members of the audience to a celebratory buffet in honour of the school. And so it was that during a sunny Jerusalem afternoon, people celebrated the Magnificat, a place where, using the words of its founder Fr. Armando, the beauty of music unites beyond differences, even the most difficult to overcome.