The Magnificat Choir in Venice
October 2nd - 7th 2014
The Yasmeen Choir guest of the Serenissima for a series of concerts and religious ceremonies
YOU WANT A SONG? WE WILL SEND YOU A CHOIR!
It’s a bit like the story of the trial for the theft of a donkey. “No, your Honour” said the defendant, “I just took a rope. The donkey was attached to it and followed me. How could I send him away?”
For some time the Association Friends of the Magnificat had suggested the idea of a tour of the Custody Choirs in Venice to kick start with a bang the 20 years of the Magnificat. The Association was planning to sustain the entire operation: a year ago they started organizing the tour that was going to include a musical accompaniment of a mass in the Basilica of St. Mark’s.
In the meantime, Maestro Giorgio Tiozzo, conductor of the Fanis and Flos Carmeli Choirs of Venice, had asked us a Palestinian song to perform during the charity concerts in favour of the Missions. “If you really want to help the Mission, why don’t you organize a tour of our students? This way, instead of one, you will have many songs from the Holy Land”. Maestro Tiozzo was convinced by the suave voice of the Magnificat and the Fanis Choir backed him.
That is how, on October 2, the Yasmeen Choir of the Magnificat Institute landed at the Marco Polo airport of Venice. Welcoming the 30 singers arriving from Jerusalem were the director and president of the Choir Flos Carmeli, Mr. Maurizio Campagnol: “Hello, Maestro Giorgio” said Hania Soudah Sabbara, director del Magnificat to Mr. Maurizio. “No, I’m Giorgio Tiozzo” said the conductor of the Fanis, jumping into the conversation. Straight after everyone was led towards the sea: 3 speedboats, that Miss Gloria of the Flos Carmeli got from the Merchants of Venice Association, welcomed the 30 of the Magnificat for a long crossing leading them to the Grand Canal and then to the Patronato of the Convent of the Frari, the Conventual Franciscans who keep many masterpieces by Bellini, Titian, Veronese; along with the mortal remains of Monteverdi and Canova. In the evening, the two choirs rehearsed together; and then, during the following days, a visit to the most fascinating locations in the city; sacred tunes during the Eucharistic celebrations at the Frari, in the Church of S. Francesco at Vigna, in S. Mark’s; and concerts in front of Titian's Assumption with the Fanis Choir, at the Waldensian Cultural Centre housed in Palazzo Cavagnis, in the church of St. Anthony in Marghera with the Flos Carmeli Choir, in the Laurentianum auditorium of Mestre. "If a flower, so beautiful, has blossomed in Jerusalem in such difficult conditions, then we, in Marghera, we should have a garden: we can do it too" said with emotion the Father Superior of the Church of St. Anthony of Marghera.
The concert program included sacred chants in Arabic, Latin and Italian; songs that expressed the mission of the Magnificat ("I believe that beyond the storm there is a small light, that from a tiny seed blooms a garden"); and finally the folklore songs of the Middle East: the trees, the cry of fabric sellers, welcome and farewell melodies.
An instrumental interlude enriched the voice program: Basel Awwad (a pupil of Maestro Jiries Boullata) played the piano at the Centro Valdese; the violinists David Aslanian and Habib Sabbara (students of Professor Tania Beltser) duetted together while Hadeel Sabat (student of Professor Ranaan) led the audience into a frenzy with her flute. Maestro Jiries Boullata accompanied on the piano both instrumentalists and singers.
And the audience? Thanks to the presence of the Fanis, to the articles that appeared on various newspapers and to the news about the first concert at the Frari – that was broadcast by the Italian state channel RAI3 – the audience has always been numerous and extremely friendly. They listened with emotion to the sacred or meditative songs ("We come from the land of war to sing the peace"); they erupted in roars of applause after the instrumental performances and folk songs. The City of 435 Bridges has well understood the country with the 170 km of the Separation Wall.
In Venice, there were also many faithful friends of the Magnificat: Paola Grignola, now administrative director of the Magnificat; Marirosa Da Rui of the Conservatory of Music of Vicenza; Maestro Guido Facchini, percussionist in the orchestra of the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and teacher of percussion at the Conservatory of Vicenza, who came several times in Jerusalem; Véronique Nebel, President of the Association Friends of the Magnificat and her mother Anita, as well as their Venetian cousins.
On the day of October 7, it was not easy to say goodbye to the Fanis Choir, the friends, the Frari and Venice. When gifts were exchanged, everyone’s heart was filled with emotion; the young ones gave a new name to Maestro Tiozzo, the generous organizer and main responsible of their stay in Venice. "What will we call Maestro Giorgio Tiozzo?" Asked Father Armando. "Giorgio I love you," replied the 30 youngsters of the Magnificat.
P. Armando Pierucci
A big thank you to: Associazione Commercianti / Comune di Venezia /Regione Veneta/Vela spa/Mons. Giuseppe Camillotto / Fr. Lino Pellanda and Fr. Riccardo Giacon / Dr. Mara Bounous / Fr. Roberto Benvenuto / Fr. Sebastiano and Fr. Adriano Campesato/ De Nardis Fabrizio.