Personality of the month: Meet Hani, the young director of the Custody Choir

Hani Kreitem, 31, comes from Beit-Hanina, Jerusalem. He is a teacher at the Magnificat Music Institute of the Custody of the Holy Land, since 2007. This year he also became the director of the choir of the Custody which takes part in all the Liturgical events in the Holy places. The Christmas Eve Mass in Bethlehem is one of the most important events among these, so we asked him to tell us more about it and about what he does.

Hani, tell us something about yourself, what job do you do and what is your typical day like?

Hard to say, I have many jobs! First of all I am a teacher. I teach Music Theory (Solfege) at the “Magnificat Institute” and Music at the Terra Sancta School for boys. But I am also a conductor. I conduct the “Yasmeen” choir of the Magnificat Institute. Now I am also the director of the choir of the Custody of the Holy Land. And then… I’m a student too, in May I will complete my studies for my Master’s Degree in Music Education at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

What does it mean for you to work for the Custody?

It means everything for me. I came to the Magnificat in 1997 as a young student to study piano. I loved this place like my home.

Father Armando, the founder, and Hania Soudah Sabbara, the former director, really made us feel like we were a family. After I graduated from the Magnificat I applied for the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance at the Hebrew University to complete my higher education in music, but I always had the Magnificat as my referent. And then became a teacher at the Magnificat…Ѐ

What can you tell us about the Custody choir?

It was the 1st choir I joined and now it became one of my favorite choirs. I joined the choir in 1999 as an Alto because I was still young. Actually the first time I sang in an official celebration was for the Christmas Mass in Bethlehem, in the year 2000. The amazing thing is that this year, after 15 years, I will conduct the Christmas midnight Mass for the first time!

Could you tell us more about it?

Christmas is one of the most important seasons for the choir. We really work a lot to prepare for it. We traditionally sing at the Christmas mass at the Nativity Church and Epiphany. It’s a real privilege to be able to sing in the place where Jesus was born.

What would you say to those supporting us?

Don’t give up supporting the Custody. The Magnificat was founded in a period of time in which learning music was really unusual. Few people learned music then. When I started studying Piano at the Magnificat some of my friends couldn’t understand the use of it. They used to tell me “It’s meaningless”!

As I said before the Magnificat is a family. We are affiliated to the Conservatory of Vicenza and we traveled to Italy and Switzerland for concerts which gave the opportunity for the choir and the Magnificat to be known abroad. For example this year the “Yasmeen Choir” will participate in a Christmas concert wich will be broadcasted on Christmas Eve by ZDF German television. It’s a great opportunity for local young singers to take part in such events. Keep supporting the Magnificat and its students!

Click here to know more about the project “Magnificat, music in the Holy City”.