By COLlive reporter
30 classical musicians wearing jeans walk on to the concert stage to begin a Chazzonus concert.
You heard that right. Chazzonus in jeans. Such was the vision of the late Dr. Mordechai Sobol, composer, conductor and arranger of hundreds of chazzonus pieces remastered and reimagined with a full orchestra and men’s choir.
The vision: to fill the concert seats once again with a young and vibrant audience and hear the young and vibrant new talent who get the opportunity to perform with the symphonic orchestra.
After his sudden passing just a year ago, his son and successor Ofir Sobol and the Yuval Organization put these concerts into action. “Chazzonus in Jeans”.
Just days before Israel put its country on lockdown due to Covid-19, a sold-out double chazzonus concert took place in Ra’anana with 3 very young and talented Chazzonim Aryeh Leib Hurwitz of Crown Heights, Yaki Lower of Jerusalem and Moshe Fishel of Ra’anana.
The concert was performed by the Ra’anana Symphony Orchestra conducted by maestro Ofir Sobol. It was emceed entertainer and radio personality Kobi Arieli. The cantors stand atop the stage with a modern look, moving away from the traditional concert garb. Cholent and beer were served at the post concert meet and greet.
As planned, the audience was a healthy balance of old and young chazzonus fans. “The Chazzonus in jeans series really did accomplish its feat, be it the refreshments, fresh vocal talent or hip vibes, three concerts into the series it certainly has entertained the youth with classical chazzonus pieces,” Hurwitz told COLlive.com.
The song they sang was Mekimi. In December 1992, Dr. Sobol completed the choral and symphonic arrangement of the composition that opens the Hallel – “Mekimi”, known by the cantor Yossele Rosenblatt and later by the Malavsky family.
Since 1992, this version has received so much popularity and endless performance, that it is difficult for any cantor to perform it today in its original and limited version.
Many associate the composition with Rosenblatt or Malevsky, but the original melody was written by cantor Shmuel Shkolnik. The tune was first adopted and recorded by Rosenblatt in 1909. A further development was done in the 1940s by Cantor Shmuel Malavsky, while the cantorial version of today is by Dr. Sobol.
“Mekimi” in its contemporary symphonic rendering, is sung here by a talented young cantor with a very impressive voice – Aryeh Leib Hurwitz, who came especially from New York to take part in the innovative and prestigious initiative of “Hazzanut in Jeans” held just 5 months ago on the eve of Rosh Chodesh Shvat.