Signon Akher ("a different style") is the name of a very professional-sounding amateur 12-member vocal group based in Beersheva. Its director, Yoni Shacham of Kibbutz Gevim (recipient of too many Kassams of late), started the group 18 years ago but always keep the membership to exactly 12: six men and six women comprising three sopranos, three altos, three tenors and three basses.
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Members are: Reuven Segev, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ben Gurion University, the only member of the group participating in it since its beginning and the only one born and raised in Beersheva; Sergio Teper, an architect originally from Argentina; Marc Wachspress, an American-born dentist; Edit Avni, a sabra dance therapist; Michal Keren, a sabra communications teacher; American-born Hady Shimon, who runs the laboratory of Beersheva's Psychiatric Hospital; sabra artist Elana Marks; student Galia Shacham, daughter of conductor Shacham; Sarah Pollack, an American-born member of Kibbutz Sa'ad where she works in the plastics factory; Jeff Meshel, an American-born writer and editor; Rafi Lev-Zion, an American-born pediatrician; and Lavi Ben-Haim,a recent computer science graduate from Ashekelon.
Although the members of the group work in their resepective jobs during the day, many of them have been singing all their lives with a fair amount of vocal training. The repertoire of the group is jazz-oriented. Jeff Meshel explains that "the repertoire used to be more Israeli 'havurat-zemer', that is, songs by Naomi Shemer, Yoni Rechter and others of the Israeli song tradition. But now it includes more pure jazz songs in English such as "Sentimental Journey", "Come Together" (Beatles/Real Group), "Walking Down the Street" (Real Group) and "Flight of the Foo Bird" (Count Basie/Real Group).
All the singers are miked. Jeff says that he prefers the microphones to an acoustic "unplugged" show because the performers can have more control over the sound that the audience hears and do not need to be affected by the acoustics of the stage.
The City of Beersheva has recently acknowledged the consistently high standard of their performances by choosing Signon Akher to be its representative group. The group recently performed at the Shablul Jazz Club of Tel Aviv's Port and at Beersheva's Museum of the Negev. It averages one performance a month.
Coming up this Saturday night is its first performance at the Southern Folk & Blues Club which will take place at 8:30 p.m. at the RuCafe of Kibbutz Ruchama. Also on the program is singer Katherine Buckell, a recent olah from Australia. This club is one of a string of Anglo-community folk music gatherings. such as the Tel Aviv Folk Club, which meets every week, the monthly Karmiel Folk Klub and Bet Shemesh Music Nite and, starting this Tuesday, the Modi'in Music Night.
Southern Folk & Blues Club
Saturday, January 13, 8:30 pm. For more information call (08) 680-8967.