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Still Playing After All These Years

Refael Razin

Music is an integral part of Jewish life. Yet professional Jewish music as we know it can be traced back to a handful of professionals who began to make music in an uncharted frontier. Meet the artists who carved the face of modern Jewish music.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nowadays, all it takes is a simple switch of a button to be transported to a world of thousands of songs, all individually selected and stored in an apparatus smaller than your palm.. The wide variety of styles and the plethora of composers, all give the feeling that we live in a generation of an abundance of musical selection. But with any musical interlude, there is also the overture — the introduction to a rich heritage of Jewish music. The first chapter, the beginning notes, echo in a vast emptiness, where only a few composers stepped cautiously, paving the way for those in the future. It is the story of those original composers who, already decades ago, were working on projects which eventually led to the professionalism and the bounty of Jewish music today.

The music world has gone through drastic changes and major transformations from the time, not so long ago, when songs were recorded on vinyl LPs and played on record players or tapes. Those first artists of modern chassidic music have witnessed the transformation and the evolution of the Jewish music market from its modest beginnings to the flourishing enterprise it is today.

The digital revolution notwithstanding, Mishpacha gathered together those original pioneers, in an effort to glean the experiences and insights of this unique group of people who paved the way for so many others. An international reunion in Israel, via transatlantic video conference, brought together these vintage artists from both sides of the globe.

Around the tables were Rabbi Boruch Chait, Mordechai Ben David, Yisroel Lamm, Yeshaya (Shia) Mendelowitz, Gideon Levin, Yossi Green, Yerachmiel Begun, and Yossi Piamanta for a sometimes nostalgic, probing discussion on the past, present, and future of Jewish music.


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