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INNOVATIVE PEACEMAKING: In Bosnia, where the scars of war are still evident and ethnic divisions are deep, the interfaith and multiethnic Pontanima choir is a source of hope and healing. Photo COURTESY ANDREW PACKMAN

Interfaith repertoire

A Bosnian choir sings reconciliation

It’s a summer evening in Sarajevo, and I’m at choir rehearsal. The director is working with the first and second tenors on a sensitive contrapuntal exchange in Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus. They focus intently, trying to keep the tight dissonances intact.

Then a third voice pierces their subtle harmony. Undulating with an expressive vibrato, it begins to riff on an entirely different scale. The tenors’ wincing eyes dart confusedly at each other, and the director finally brings the cacophony to a halt. A chuckle drifts across the room as, one by one, we realize that it’s sunset and the third voice belongs to the minaret across the street, calling the faithful to prayer.


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