Acclaimed Chabad music producer Zalman Goldstein of Monsey NY, shared the following with COLlive.com:
In an exciting find, a reel from my father, Rabbi Yosef Goldstein (“Uncle Yossi”) OBM’s collection was found to contain several fascinating performances of Chabad Niggunim from what seems like the late 1960’s or the early 1970s.
I remember hearing years ago from my father that in the 70’s (not sure of the exact date) a group of students from the Hadar Torah Yeshivah who were also accomplished Julliard graduates and classical musicians, set out to make a symphony of Chabad Niggunim, in Radio City no less, to introduce the ‘wider world’ to the sublime artistic and spiritual qualities of Chabad Niggunim.
I recall hearing later that the Rebbe encouraged the program and even sent a delegation of Bochrim to attend in a show of support(?). Also that there possibly is a letter from the Rebbe about this event somewhere(?).
It seems that my father attended and recorded this event with his trusty reel-to-reel audio recorder (probably the same one he used to record many Farbrengens, thanks to which we have many hundreds of Sichos and Maamorim recorded). I remember then hearing this music playing in our home while growing up and it always excited me.
The majesty and explosive power of the philharmonic orchestra was like nothing I’ve ever heard before. The intricate harmonies and treatments of the Niggunim made a huge impression on me. With time the reel was lost, and with it the music. All that was left was the warm memories which slowly faded with time.
Probably due to my early exposure to the symphonic treatment of Chabad Niggunim I’ve always hankered to hear a full symphony of Chabad Niggunim again and was disappointed that one never materialized. That is, until the year 2002.
It was then that I decided to just do it myself, which gave us the “Chabad Centennial Symphony” under the capable baton of conductor Yisroel Lamm, and vocalist Avraham Fried. Nearly 2,000 people showed up that cold evening in March in the Hammerstein ballroom in Manhattan.
Of course I made sure to capture the event with Emmy-award winning video and audio directors, the same crew who broadcasts the “Live from Lincoln Center” TV programs (the CD and DVD of the event is still available at www.ChabadSymphony.com).
Today I pulled out a reel-to-reel recorder/player (yup, I still have a working one) and transferred the recording to MP3’s (attached below). I did not attempt to do any audio restoration other than divide up the recordings by song, so it can be enjoyed as it was found.
Watching my children listening to the same music I heard so many years ago was particularly enjoyable.
Tracks 1-4 below are from the 613 Symphony.
Tracks 5-8 are of unknown origin. One of my brother’s says that from what he remembers it may have been a group in France that performed some Niggunim symphonically.
Tracks 10-11 I think are from Gershon Wachtel playing on our highly-untuned piano at our home on Empire Blvd in the early 1970’s (he was a regular at our home while he studied at Hadar Torah. His intricate renditions of Niggunim always drew us around him at the piano.)
I would be very grateful if anyone has more information about the 613 Symphony, or the rest of the recordings, and the involvement (if any) of the Rebbe, to please share them with us in the comment section below.
Audio- click to play or right click and save to download:
01. Bnei Heicholo
02. Tzomo L’Cho Nafshi
03. Mitteler Rebbe’s Kapeliah
04. Niggun Hagodol Strashela
05. Mitteler Rebbe’s Kapeliah (ver. 2)
06. Alter Rebbe’s Niggun
08. Niggun 2
09. Hop Cussak
10. Bnei Heicholo Concerto – Piano
11. L’Chatchila Ariber – Piano