How did viol guru Jordi Savall find himself attempting to reproduce the 3,000-year old musical history of Jerusalem?

It is hard to think of a city with a past more savage than Jerusalem’s. A cursory read-through of the city’s annals reveals political strife of every conceivable kind: sieges, sackings, rebellions and foreign conquests. Over its 5,000-odd years of recorded history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times… Considering the city’s long history of carnage and instability, it might strike you as a rather unfortunate irony that the name Jerusalem – in Hebrew, Yerushalayim – contains the same semitic root (s-l-m) as the word shalom (peace). Yet you’d be hard-pressed to deny that, in the case of Jerusalem, etymology has failed to operate as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It may seem counter-intuitive, then, to take Jerusalem’s rather feeble claim as a city of peace as the basis for a large-scale artistic endeavour – but that is, in effect, what composer and gambist Jordi Savall has done with his concert project Jerusalem: A city of two peaces.

“The city’s Hebrew name is a clear metaphorical reference to both ‘heavenly peace’ and ‘earthly peace’,” says...