Benefit Concert: Carlebach across the board

Despite its simplicity, Reb Carlebach's music has been adapted for a chamber orchestra for Wednesday's benefit concert in Tel Aviv.

An unlikely lineup comprising American star of ultra-Orthodox pop Avraham Fried, Israeli headliner Dudu Fisher, newly religious rocker Evyatar Banai, alternative Jewish music brothers Yonatan and Aaron Razel, and the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra under Eli Jafe will evoke the spirit of beloved "Singing Rabbi" Shlomo Carlebach at a concert featuring his hits and narrative video from the late performer. The event, taking place at Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium on Wednesday, is the third in a series in Carlebach's honor - the first and second of which were held in New York and Paris - hosted by food distribution charity Meir Panim to mark its sixth anniversary. Proceeds will go toward improving the organization's Kiryat Gat facility. "Carlebach is the ideal choice, because he embodied Meir Panim's motto," explains producer Danny Kazelre. "Through his music, Carlebach attempted to create unity and understanding between Jews from across the religious spectrum," which is something Meir Panim aims to achieve by providing for all segments of Israeli society. The services on offer, Kazelre continues, which include soup kitchens, children's meals and meals on wheels, create opportunities for volunteer work in different Israeli communities and are available regardless of background or religious affiliation. Carlebach's desire to promote Jewish unity, says Kazelre, is reflected both in the varied choice of performers - all of whom, he enthuses, were excited about taking part in the concert, even though most are musically far removed from the late singer and will be performing their own interpretations of his works - and in the choice of venue. "We decided to hold the event in Tel Aviv rather than the Carlebach stronghold of Jerusalem so as to attract audiences from across the religious spectrum and enable them to experience the beauty of Carlebach's music and messages." Similar approaches, he says, proved successful in New York and Paris. "Our previous concerts received a very positive reaction from both secular and religious audiences, whether Carlebach devotees or those who were hearing his music for the first time." The most original aspect of the event will be the orchestrated versions of Carlebach classics - an idea Kazelre says appealed to him precisely because of its novelty. "I wanted to portray Carlebach's music from a different perspective and was lucky enough to obtain permission from his widow and daughters, who didn't even demand royalties, preferring that more money went to charity." He admits that adapting the works for orchestra was sometimes difficult, owing to the simplicity of Carlebach's tunes. "Most of his songs are comprised of the same few chords; adding to the complexity of the music would erase its unique character, so the task of adapting was challenging and required talented musicians." One such musician is alternative Jewish music performer Yonatan Razel, who will conduct two pieces which he arranged for orchestra. "The simplicity of the tunes makes it difficult to create tension within the orchestrated adaptations and to involve all the instruments," Razel acknowledges. "But at the same time, this simplicity generates a clarity that complements the symphonic medium, creating a strikingly pure sound." Wednesday, 8 p.m., Mann Auditorium; tickets - ranging from NIS 180 to 240 (discount for Isracard holders) - are available at (03) 604-5000 or *5000.