The Ramatayim Men's Choir.
(photo credit: MARK KOTZEN)
Get ready for some beautiful voices when the Ramatayim Men’s Choir presents its Rainbow of Music program April 4 at the Jerusalem Theater.
“We sing a broad range of stuff – from cantorial and hassidic music to Broadway,” said the choir’s founder, the conductor Richard Shavei-Tzion. “We have two invited artists, the renowned IDF chief cantor Shai Abramson and a well-known hassidic artist, Yitzchak Meir. All the proceeds from the concert will be going to the Malki Foundation, which provides assistance and services to young people who are severely impaired.”
The choir includes 40 choristers, both native Israelis and new immigrants from the Western world, and has performed all over Israel and traveled in Europe numerous times. It has been collaborating with many prominent local artists – Yonatan Razel, Shlomo Gronich, Colin Schachat and Rami Kleinstein, as well as with some of the finest cantors in the world.
It was founded 25 years ago in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood by a group of four enthusiasts who just wanted to sing choral pieces they recalled from synagogue services in their youth.
Shavei-Tzion, who is an accountant by training, is an autodidact and has been conducting choral ensembles in both his native South Africa and Israel since the age of 18. He confides that “quite soon, we realized that in addition to the pleasure of singing, we can create a vehicle to give assistance to various charitable causes. We raise funds for various Israeli and Jewish causes, such as hospitals, terror victims, and troubled adolescents.”
By now, the choir has given more than 250 performances, ranging from gala concerts to flash mobs.
Shavei-Tzion proudly speaks about a video the choir recorded for Israel’s 70th celebration.
“We invited 15 choirs from all over the world to sing simultaneously “Oseh shalom bimromav
” – something that I personally believe has never been done before.”
Speaking of the pleasure of singing together, Shavei-Tzion says that “there are studies that show that singing together creates a certain well-being that enhances people’s lives both spiritually and physically. We call ourselves a Ramatayim family. I often get a comment from people in the audience that the performance is so enhanced by the joy that we express through music.”
The choir members keep quite a few special events in their memory, he says. “In 2005, we sang in Wales on the very evening when there was a terrible terrorist attack in the London underground. In front of 4,000 people, we sang a Hebrew song, “You shall know no more war,” and it was a remarkable recognition of togetherness and solidarity between us and the audience.”
Another very personal memory of his relates to a Shabbat service at the Grand Choral Synagogue of Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 2017.
“Some 2,000 people came to hear a choir coming from Jerusalem, he recollects. An elderly gentlemen came up to me. He couldn’t speak Hebrew or English, and I don’t speak Russian, but he looked into my eyes and held my hand and he said to me “Naches, naches.” It was a wonderful tribute, and I will never forget it.”
The capital’s native sons will be part of the 18th Jerusalem Arts Festival, which starts April 1 and continues through April 8 at 33 venues throughout the city. Its rich and variegated program features 55 performances of all possible genres, ranging from choir singing to dabke dance performance to street theater to kids shows and more.For the detailed festival program and reservations: http://jerusalemarts.co.il
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