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Tradition and Modern Meet in One Long Dance

Riki Goldstein

Fusing tradition and modernity comes naturally to him

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

“T

his is very different from what you’re probably used to,” musician and well-known performer Chony Milecki admits about his recent album, titled The Great Farby, “but it will feel familiar at the same time. The songs are authentic, chassidish niggunim you’d hear at a farbrengen, but the music is up-to-date electronic dance music. It merges the authenticity of the shtetl with the technology of the modern world.”

The fusing of tradition and modernity comes naturally to Milecki. He grew up on shlichus in Sydney, Australia in a kiruv family and is now an acclaimed musician in Chabad circles across the world. His performances, he says, aim to “bridge the old and the new, bringing a modern dance beat to traditional songs.”

The Great Farby album is actually one long dance set, as each track segues into the other with no breaks. “I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from two very different groups of people,” says Chony. “People who exercise, and people who are dealing with grief. I was very humbled recently when a woman who lost her son wrote to me, ‘Every time I’m feeling down, I put on your album… I use it for working out and I use it to pick me up.’”

Guests such as Beri Weber, Eli Marcus, Benny Friedman, Yanky Lemmer, Shmueli Ungar, 8th Day, and others provide the vocals on the album. The tunes are all familiar, but the titles might throw you off: For example, “Anu Amecha” is called “Want You,” and “Ana Avda” is called “Dira B’Calypso.”

“We have a concept of dirah betachtonim, to make This World hospitable to Hashem,” says Choni, “and because this arrangement has a bit of a Latin sound, I figured we’re bringing Hashem into Calypso too!” 

The speeded-up electronic version of the heartwarming song played when the chassidim say farewell to each other — “Tayere Brider, mir vellen zich veiter zehn, der Eibishter vet geben gezunter leben, mir vellen zich veiter zehn” (he calls it “Bring It Home”) — is sort of Choni’s personal anthem.

“There is a lot of travel within Chabad, with people going on shlichus to the ends of the world,” says Milecki. “The English lyrics sung by Eli Marcus — ‘Hey brother, I’ll see you soon, may G-d grant you health and livelihood… my heart is full of love and brotherhood…’ —bring a warm message of love and unity to all Jews everywhere.”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 749)

 

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