Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Turetsky's Choir - the Russian Jewish answer to Riverdance

If you want a full on Jewish music pageant, it's hard to beat the Russians. The following video, from the Turetsky Choir, is a great example but only one of many I run across. It's an incongruous (to me) mix of some seriously good male vocalists, Jewish folk and liturgical music, and a high production value stage and pop instrumentation. Much like Riverdance does for Irish music and dance, it at the same celebrates and trivializes Jewish music.

I'd pay big bucks to see it live. And then need to take a shower.

The Turetsky Choir is led by Mikhail Turetsky, who first came to prominence in 1989 in Russia as the choirmaster of the Moscow Choral Synagogue, the main synagogue in Russia. Initially, Turetsky's choir was exclusively an art music project that produced concerts and recordings of primarily Jewish music. Over time, though, it added the flamboyant sets and pop sensibilities it's known for and began to mix Jewish music with pop and musical theater pieces.

And no, I don't know if any of the choir members, including Turetsky, are Jewish or what being Jewish might mean to them. To read the YouTube comments on this video, you'd think they were either treif impostors or best thing since Golda Meir (who, for the record, infuriated the Soviet authorities by visiting the Moscow Choral Synagogue back in 1948). And I'm not sure how much it matters. Seeing a bunch of seriously good male vocalists singing Jewish music to a huge crowd of Russians, in the face of the centuries of discrimination that Russian Jews have faced, does my heart proud.

Sing it loud, guys. Who cares if you know what you're singing. (Though I'm betting you do.)

For more info on the Turetsky Choir, see their website, for their recordings, see Amazon. Amazon doesn't actually stock them, but has them listed. If anyone knows a good source of import Russian recordings let me know. I'd love to pick up a couple.

Update: Score. I picked up one of Turetsky's early recordings at the Moscow Synagogue on eMusic. It's a very good recording of a synagogue male choir. No pop. no fanfare. Great singing. Now I have to track down one of the later recordings.


Philstar said...

I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you find this recording.

Jack said...

Will do