Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, with Tel Aviv Choir, Performs in Bethlehem

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, assisted by the Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir, performed Verdi’s “Requiem.” Sunday night in Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, regarded by Christians as the place where Jesus Christ was born.

To the 3,000 Christians, Jews and Moslems assembled in the town for this unprecedented occasion, Mayor Elias Bandak, the mayor of Bethlehem, an Arab, addressed a fervent prayer for peace in the Holy Land. The occasion, he said, was a memorable one for the town where the “Prince of Peace” was born. “It is my hope,” he added, “that peace will come to this land before long and that the United Nations will find the solution that brings peace.”

In a message to Mayor Bandak, read to the audience in Arabic and Hebrew, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol said that the language of music was a bridge among all men regardless of race or religion. In the audience were people from many Israeli cities, churchmen and dignitaries from Bethlehem, Beit Jallah and East Jerusalem. The opening of the concert was delayed so that it would not clash with the Moslem muezzin’s call to evening prayer from a nearby minaret.

Zubin Mehta, Indian conductor of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, led the orchestra. The soloists, from New York’s Metropolitan Opera, were Richard Tucker, Martina Arroya, Shirley Verrett and Ronaldo Gialotti.

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