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CHOIR HARVESTS PRAISE IN LAND OF BLUNT CRITICS

SHARE CHOIR HARVESTS PRAISE IN LAND OF BLUNT CRITICS

As any performing artist will tell you, it's a dream come true when critics have nothing but nice things to say about your work.

Members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, accustomed as they are to praise, still seem somewhat surprised that so far on their 12-day tour of the Holy Land, critics have written nothing but favorable reports on their concerts - particularly of their presentation of Hector Berlioz's "Requiem" with the Jerusalem Symphony Or-ches-tra.The choir's performances in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv have received favorable reviews in a land where it is reported there are more musicians of high caliber per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Critics here are known to be blunt, even harsh.

One Israeli newspaper, Al Hamishmar, carried a story with a headline labeling the choir's performance as "Grand and Emotional." The critic, Yitzhak Shor, wrote in part: "Their singing was focused, pure, full of expression and sublime. To sum up, this performance of Berlioz's `Requiem' was a grand, rare and emotional experience."

Another critic, Hanoch Ron, wrote: "The Jerusalem Orchestra did it last night (Dec.30): it stole the show from the other Israeli orchestras in a wonderful performance. And the Mormon choir was a great surprise: a giant choir performing Berlioz's dramatic and colorful `Requiem' with gentleness and wonderful sensitivity.

"If you thought that hundreds of people would have to shout - you would be wrong. Not with the Mormons. They sound like an opening flower. In `piano' it is like a charming bud, and gradually, with the `fortissimo' it opens into a spectacular flower.

"Their sopranos have come down from heaven, and the tenors have voices out of this world, pouring out so easily. The altos and basses are deep and velvety. Together, their music is like crystal dipped in a flow of warmth. . . . This was a landmark in the history of the Jerusalem Orchestra, a human musical prayer."

Another critic, Ora Binor, wrote for Ma'Ariv: "Listening to singers almost whispering the `Agnus Dei' (Lamb of God) in a musical holy awe as in prayer was a unique experience, and they did it beautifully, emotionally. . . . This was indeed a `Requiem' of intimacy and internal excitement. The Mormon choir, despite its size, sounded almost like a chamber choir, and left us with many real emotional moments. . . . The `Requiem' . . . is a very respectable musical achievement in Jerusalem. This experience, with its abundant intimacy and emotion, must not be missed on Sunday (Jan. 3) in Tel Aviv."

The choir left Salt Lake City Dec. 26 and will return Jan. 6.