Hungary’s Pécs Choir wows Jerusalem; heads for Haifa

Now heading for Haifa’s Holiday of Holidays Festival, Hungary’s distinguished ensemble, The Singers of Pécs Chamber Choir, conducted inspirationally by Attila Kertész and Ilona Kunváriné Okos, has just charmed Rabbi Ed Romm’s Jerusalem’s Moreshet Yisrael Synagogue, with stirring sacred compositions by Zoltán Kodály.  They included his setting of the evergreen “Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to Thee O Israel,” ideal for the festival commemorating the Maccabees’ liberation of this country from foreign oppression. Pianist Sándor Balatoni accompanied them with verve and virtuosity.  Johanna Nagy captured our hearts with an impassioned aria from Verdi’s Rigoletto.

They were preceded by the Holy City’s own Kapellatte’s Chamber Choir under Shelley Berlinsky.  Cheerful and chirpy, enthusiastic and ever-entertaining, it sang a wide variety of repertoire and rhythm from Hanuka classics to songs about Chocolate (overflowing with frothy Kapellatte-double-latte),  a train ride (modern negro spiritual in texture) and Elgar’s “As Torrents in Summer” (always welcome in this oft-parched land,)  based on Longfellow’s words.

Kapellatte Hunuka Concert

Photo:  Kapellatte Choir at the concert

The concert ended with both choirs’ joined together – a symbol of Hungarian-Israeli friendship.  They sang the amusing, but rather politically incorrect “The Gypsy Eats Cheese.”

At Hanuka time, Jews remember Zachariah’s message that miracles are achieved “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.”  Longfellow’s poem, contains a similar sentiment: “Stronger than steel is the sword of the Spirit.”

Attila the Hungarian brings us Spirit in Spades.

Come again, Sons and Daughters of Pécs!

The Singers of Pécs Chamber Choir perform in Haifa on Friday Dec. 6, 2013 at 8:30 p.m. in St. John’s Evangelical Church, as part of Haifa’s Holiday of Holidays Festival

copyright Rosemarine 2013