Last night at the Kennedy Center the National Choral Society and Orchestra under Francisco de Araujo honored the Israeli and Egyptian war dead in a concert entitled a "Spiritual Jubilee with Love." The program began with a color guard bearing two wreaths which were placed on the foot of the stage by James E. Johnson, a former assistant secretary of the Navy and the host for the concert.
With a quote from the Koran, Johnson then presented to the Egyptian ambassador a memorial plaque to be delivered to President Sadat. With a few lines from Isaiah, a second plaque was presented to the Israeli ambassador for Prime Minister Begin. An added dimension to the ceremony came from the fact, noted by both ambassadors, that Sadat was soon leaving for Israel.
The concert, presented free to an audience of invited guests, including members of Washington's diplomatic and political community, was underwritten by F. William Menge of Lynchburg, Va. Menge is president of Genesis Tours Inc., which is organizing a Christian pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt in November. The concert was designed as a sendoff for the pilgrimage. Menge will also assume the cost of taking the orchestra and chorus along on the tour. The musicians will perform in both Israel and Egypt, presenting Handel's "Messiah" in Bethlehem.
The 74 singers and 60 orchestral players who make up the National Choral Society and Orchestra were assembled by conductor De Araujo for last night's concert and the tour.
The highlight of the program was Brahms' "A German Requiem," which was given a spirited, if less than subtle performance. Less fortuitous was a guest appearance by pianist Poldi Mildner in Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto. Wrong notes from Mildner and a far from steady beat from de Araujo put everybody off.