Coronavirus is not stopping the music of the Custody of the Holy Land. This year again, the Terra Sancta Organ Festival, the largest festival of organ music in the Middle East and the Levant, inaugurates its new musical season on 5th October. Until the public can be allowed in once more, the concerts will be held without an audience and shown over the internet on the website www.tsorganfestival.org (where the complete programme can be consulted), on the festival’s YouTube channel, on the Facebook page on the channels of the Christian Media Center and, from this year, also on the website and the social media of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. This is why, the “Internet Pipe Organ Season”, conceived especially to be watched on computers, smartphones and tablets, with concerts in live streaming, new productions proposed as premieres and complete concerts from past editions never posted before, has been added to the traditional season of concerts – in the places where they can be held with the public.
“The new situation,” says the superintendent of the festival, Fr. Riccardo Ceriani, “has fortunately made us consider a share of the public we had overlooked until today, i.e. those who join us via the internet and the social media, an audience that is, moreover, larger and with whom we can interact. This is why we have scheduled the Internet Pipe Organ Season of the Terra Sancta Organ Festival.”
What does it consist of?
“The musical season on the internet comprises 10 live concerts, 9 premieres of new concerts or ones that have never been posted before, 5 replays of concerts for organ and orchestra: we therefore have a total of no fewer than 24 complete concerts, plus a selection of video clips every Thursday for a total of 42 events until 16th May 2021. The date of the last live concert. After the first broadcast, these concerts will continue to be available on the YouTube channel and on the festival’s Facebook page. The concerts are held not only in the Holy Land (Israel and Palestine) but also in the other locations of the festival, such as Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Jordan and the Greek island of Rhodes. In addition, there is something new: as the Custody of the Holy Land is organizing an organ festival in its monastery in Washington as well (“Music at the Monastery”), we have decided to combine our programmes and offer them on the internet.”
What are the particularities from the artistic and organizational points of view of this year’s festival?
“The first piece of music which will be performed is a new composition which will have its world premiere, played by the Israeli organist of Ukrainian origin, Roman Krasnovsky, and entitled “Coronatoccata”, which defines the particular situation in which the festival is taking place this year. For the first time we will be presenting two “Organ Marathons”, i.e. very long concerts with various musicians who alternate, one on 5th October in Jerusalem and the other on 7th October in Nazareth. In addition there is the “Italian concerto for organ and cello” which will have its premiere on YouTube and Facebook on 8th October from St Peter’s Church in Jaffa (Tel Aviv), organized together with the Fondazione Terra Santa of Milan and with the collaboration of the Italian Institute of Culture of Tel Aviv. Due to the difficulty of inviting musicians from abroad in this period, we have taken the opportunity to invite organists of international level who live in Israel, like Roman Krasnovsky, Alexander Gorin and Yuval Rabin. The participation of Sister Cecilia Pia Manelli, organist of the Holy Sepulchre, who will propose music and improvisations taken from the basilica’s liturgy, will be of great interest. Sr. Cecilia will also play a duo with the cellist Lucia D’Anna in the Jaffa concert. Another duo, made up of the organist Tatyana Yrovsky and the violinist Anna Ioffe, will play in the Nazareth Marathon. Practically, the programme of one month is concentrated in three days. With the Organ Marathons, the idea is to reduce the risks coming from the limitation on circulation in Israel in this period and, at the same time, for the first time we introduce in our Terra Sancta Organ Festival an artistic practice which some festivals have already adopted.
When will the public be able to return to your concerts?
The first attempt will be with the Lebanese Pipe Organ Week, which should be held as normal from 29th January to 7th February 2021 as a sign of life and a new start after the explosion in the port of Beirut. On the other hand, the fate of the concerts in Jordan, Cyprus, Rhodes and Syria is more uncertain: for the time being they have been moved to the springtime: budget and Coronavirus permitting.”