Liturgical Festival 2021

The Galilee Chamber Orchestra/Photo: Yoel Levy

In the holiday spirit, the Liturgical Festival, initiated and produced by the Polyphony Foundation, will take place from December 16 – 18, 2021. Now in its third edition, the festival is a peak event of the Polyphony Foundation, expressing its vision of dissolving the barriers between religions and cultures in Israel through music.  The concerts will take place in the churches of Nazareth: the Salesian Church (Basilica of Jesus the Adolescent), the Christ Anglican Church, and the Maronite Church.

Nabeel Abboud Ashkar/Photo: Karam Wassim

The festival’s Artistic Director, violinist Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, Executive Director of the Polyphony Foundation, stated: “This is the third year in which we continue the tradition of the Liturgical Festival in Nazareth. This past year was very significant for the Polyphony Foundation, we succeeded in advancing our vision more than ever. The message and unique voice of Polyphony reverberated and was heard in the Israeli cultural arena, especially during those critical times – during the pandemic, and when the rift between Arab and Jewish society turned violent. In these challenging times we had the privilege of making a different voice heard, a voice for unity, as in the concert “One Voice,” a collaboration between the Polyphony Foundation and the Israeli Opera, that took place just after the fighting and violence that tore the country apart. Yet another success was the Abu Gosh Festival (which, in 2021, took place in Tel Aviv), where an entire day was devoted to the Polyphony Foundation concerts, representing the diversity of Arab music and culture to full concert halls in Tel Aviv. When we review the past year, in which there was so much violence in Arab society, we believe that the Liturgical Festival will, in addition to a unique musical experience, reveal the character of Arab society led by culture, attentiveness and tolerance, which enable us to celebrate the close of this year with hope for a better one, full of harmony, aesthetics, and community. We’ll meet in Nazareth, December 2021.”

Saleem Abboud Ashkar/Photo courtesy of the Polyphony Foundation

The festival will open with a celebratory concert of Beethoven’s works, conducted by Salim Abboud Ashkar, with the Galilee Chamber Orchestra and soloists of the Israeli Opera: Tali Ketzef, soprano; Eitan Drori, tenor; and Yoav Aylon, bass. The program will consist of two works by Beethoven: Christ on the Mount of Olives, and Symphony No. 1. The concert will take place on Thursday, December 16th at 20:30, at the Salesian Church.

Soprano Nour Darwish and pianist Nabeel Hayek/Photo: Yoel Levy

The following day there will be an intimate, morning concert of select Baroque and Romantic works, sung by Nour Darwish, who will be accompanied by pianist Nabeel Hayek. The program will include selections from Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Mendelssohn’s St. Paul Oratorio; Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and more. The concert will take place on Friday, December 17th at 11:30, at the Anglican Church.

In the evening Johannes Brahm’s A German Requiem will be performed in the composer’s original four-handed version, with the participation of the Tel Aviv Collegium Singers. conducted by Yishai Stecker, with soloists Tali Ketzef (soprano), Samuel Berlad (baritone), and pianists Tom Zalmanov, and Tomer Vestman. The concert will take place on Friday, December 17th at 20:30, at the Anglican Church.

The festive closing concert will be conducted by internationally renown pianist Saleem Abboud Ashkar, with the participation of the Tel Aviv Collegium Singers, the Barrocade Orchestra, and soloists of the Israeli Opera: Nour Darwish (soprano) and Alon Harari (counter tenor). The program will include three works by Vivaldi: Cantata Cessate, Concerto for Two Violins in A minor, and Gloria RV 589. The concert will take place on Saturday, December 18th at 20:30, at the Maronite Church.

In addition to the concerts, visitors may also sign up for a culinary tour of Nazareth, or visit the Christmas market at the Maronite Church. The full program and ticket information may be found on the Liturgical Festival website: