Music

The Great Gehenna Choir

by Camea Smith | 29.03.18

The Great Gehenna Choir participating in “Preaching to the Choir,” a series of live events at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2017. Photo by Peter Vit

The musical rites performed by the Great Gehenna Choire invite the audience to participate in events of ecstatic public singing. The different backgrounds of the choir members – classical singers, composers and multi-disciplinary artists – contribute to the composition of their original repertoire. Instead of conventional performances in which the assembling crowd and the performers are separated by the barrier of an elevated stage, the choir prefers to interact with the listeners and to enable them to take part and sing along. In the solemn gatherings, the unamplified voices of the singers establish a direct dialogue between choir, audience and community.

The Great Gehenna Choir’s name is derived from the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Gehenna) in Jerusalem, where ancient Canaanites used to conduct human sacrifice. Alluding to the historical site, the choir refers to social, political and spiritual issues through vocal rituals. The collective of musicians was initiated in 2015 by the singer, composer and performance artist Noam Enbar and the Mamuta Art and Media Center with Hazira – Performance Art Arena. The choir includes sixteen members, including the vocal artists and musicians Faye Shapiro and Amit Fihsbein. The choir playfully experiments with language, deconstructing words and rendering them into foreign sounding chants.

After orchestrating site-specific vocal experiences at various venues, including the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Jerusalem Season of Culture and the Sheikh Abreik Festival at Kiryat Tivon, the choir will perform a new work tonight (Thursday, March 29) at Alma, an intellectual center devoted to the studies of Hebrew culture, located in 6 Shadal street, Tel Aviv. The performance, led by Noam Ahdut and Natan Skop, will revolve around sound, voice and song and will be based on the gestures and format of the Passover Seder night, creating a contemporary and secular interpretation of the fifteen stages of the traditional Jewish ritual. The first performance will begin at 19:00 and the subsequent event will begin at 21:30.

The Great Gehenna Choir participating in “Preaching to the Choir,” a series of live events at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2017. Photo by Itamar Mendes Flohr

The Great Gehenna Choir participating in “Preaching to the Choir,” a series of live events at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2017. Photo by Peter Vit

The Great Gehenna Choir participating in “Preaching to the Choir,” a series of live events at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2017. Photo by Itamar Mendes Flohr

The Great Gehenna Choir participating in “Preaching to the Choir,” a series of live events at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2017. Photo by Peter Vit

The Great Gehenna Choir performing at the Sheikh Abreik Festival in Kiryat Tivon, 2018. Photo by Yasmin Lahav

The Great Gehenna Choir performing at the Sheikh Abreik Festival in Kiryat Tivon, 2018. Photo by Yasmin Lahav

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