The Forgiveness concerts, held in Wales, Nottingham and Barnet, UK in March 2009, were created by Feminenza to help fund the urgently needed Forgiveness & Reconciliation counsellor training of women in regions of Africa currently gripped in conflict, in their own communities. The performances were a collaboration between two international ensembles – Thalia’s Whisper, a unique women’s choral group, and Ensemble Phoenix, a trio of violin, cello and guitar, who all believe in the power of forgiveness to transform lives and societies.
Thalia’s Whisper is represented by New York’s Dina Richardson, whose work includes UK chart-topping hits for Jason Donovan and Will Young, and UK-based vocalists Pat Maurice and Ginny Ellis. Ensemble Phoenix is comprised of violinist Jonathan Ofir (Israel-Denmark), cellist Emmy Schaling (Holland) both of whom are classical musicians with a line of experience with leading European and American ensembles and as soloists, accompanied by guitarist Bart Weber (Holland), who comes from a rhythmical music background and has expanded into various other genres. Together they have created a program that cuts through all genres, from Bach to Blues, with the common denominator of the theme of Forgiveness. The musical experience is rare, inspired, compelling. The message of forgiveness is palpable, moving. It goes home with you.
The concert was prompted by Jonathan Ofir, following a series of unusual encounters. In February 2008 he saw the documentary film “Encounter Point” at a Forgiveness workshop in Florida run by Mary Noble, the CEO of Feminenza. The film focuses on the story of Robi Damelin, who represents the Parents Circle, a brave organisation of 500 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families working together for understanding and reconciliation. Robi spoke about her son, David, who was killed by a sniper at the age of 29 whilst on checkpoint duty. A short while later when Mary introduced Jonathan to Robi, he suddenly realised David was a friend from High School in Tel Aviv, who had played the French horn in the same orchestra. On the spot Jonathan got out his violin and played a moving improvised piece of music as a eulogy to Robi’s son David. It was an electric moment that conveyed the power of music to heal and ease the pain by honouring the best in a life.
Later that year Mary met Dina Richardson in New York and talked about her experience with the Parent’s Circle. Dina was so inspired she contacted Jonathan, and a mutual desire to help bring some healing to our troubled world grew into a collaboration between six talented musicians and singers to form a unique concert, which also includes readings from the Feminenza publication, “The Seven Pillars of Forgiveness”, which was available to purchase at the concerts.