Sunday, January 17, 2010

I’ve mentioned before that I like the Yeshiva Boys’ Choir so I thought I would check out a couple of other Jewish choirs and see how they stack up. I don’t mean to critique these choirs, I’m not enough of an authority to give a meaningful review, but I did want to just briefly describe their music.

Now what I know about Jewish music is what I learned from the movies and television, two sources that usually have little to do with reality. The Miami Boys Choir has a 1993 CD, The 3rd Annual Miami Experience, that may or may not be representative of their other music. They have tons of recordings but I really didn’t care for this one at all.

The blurb in the liner notes says, “Remember ‘Modeh Ani’ and ‘Shsulim’? Remember ‘Horeini’?” Well, of course I don’t remember those songs but if they sound like the rest of the stuff on this album I don’t think I missed much.
Listening to these songs was like being at a Jewish wedding (the ones I’ve seen on TV) where people dance in a circle to old eastern European music, the kind that has an accordion in the band. It’s a music that’s enjoyed by a great many people but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.
Usually I can focus on the boys’ voices, which I will admit are fine, and overlook everything else, but this was too much for me to handle.

Then I moved on to the mystery choir, The Shaleves Boys’ Choir and their 2002 recording Precious Tears. I call them a mystery choir because I haven’t been able to find out anything about them. The liner notes list the songs and the choir members but there is nothing about the choir itself. Where are they from? Why are there no pictures? How long have they been around? What does Shaleves mean? I searched the internet and came up blank on this one. The only interesting thing I see is that they have a list of people whom they say ‘special thanks to’ and Yossi Newman (presumably from the Yeshiva Boy’s Choir) is mentioned.

The music is nice, more modern and pop than the Miami album and, for me, much more listenable. The songs are in Hebrew except for the title song, Precious Tears, which is in English and seems to refer to Israel, “A nation on her own in this world she stands alone, danger and fear from all sides…”.
The boys sing wonderfully well and probably put on a good show.

Still, for my money, I prefer the Yeshiva kids. Their songs are just prettier, their singing happier

Here’s a bit about the Miami Boys’ Choir: “Formed in 1977 in Miami Beach, Florida, by Yerachmiel Begun, the Miami Boys Choir was part of a larger surge in popularity of Jewish choral music. Made up of Orthodox boys from the Miami area, the choir began recording and performing almost immediately.
After releasing the first few albums, Begun moved MBC to Manhattan although he retained the "Miami" in the name of the group. After its move to New York, the Miami Boys Choir has released a new album nearly every year with boys primarily coming from the New York area.”

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