Schachat & sons: Ra’anana’s tour de force

Schachat and sons sang a diverse selection of popular music, joined by the superb ensemble known as the Ofer Portugaly Gospel Singers.

Colin (right) and Gabi Schachat singing with the Ra’anana Symphonette Orchestra (photo credit: COLIN SCHACHAT)
Colin (right) and Gabi Schachat singing with the Ra’anana Symphonette Orchestra
(photo credit: COLIN SCHACHAT)
GIFTED ISRAELI baritone Colin Schachat is constantly on the move, and audiences everywhere love him! But there’s nothing like playing to a home crowd, especially when harmonizing with two of his four sons.
After his spectacular debut appearance with popular Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli in Tuscany on September 6, Schachat returned to his hometown, Ra’anana, to perform on October 27 with his sons Gabi, 27, and Micha, 21, in a delightful evening of popular music accompanied by the Ra’anana Symphonette Orchestra conducted by Maestro David Sebba.
Sponsored by Telfed, the South African Zionist Federation in Israel, the hall at HaMiskhan-Music and Arts House Ra’anana was sold out, with the audience predominantly comprising former South Africans and other English-speaking immigrants, who were treated to a wonderful range of melodies and lyrics.
Schachat and sons sang a diverse selection of popular music, joined by the superb ensemble known as the Ofer Portugaly Gospel Singers.
The Schachats thrilled the packed audience together with the energetic accompaniment by the prolific hometown orchestra, the Ra’anana Symphonette, under the reliable and sensitive baton of Maestro David Sebba, who also masterfully piano-conducted many of the items.
The overall repertoire for this new musical selection was lighter than previous offerings, possibly influenced by the involvement of Shachat’s sons Gabi and Micha. Whilst the audience seemed to lap up every minute of this musical feast, their clear favorites were “Parla Piu Piano” (The theme from “The Godfather”) an exciting new “Kazablan Medley” (arranged by David Sebba), a refreshing orchestral version of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” as well as a moving duet cover version of Ed Sheeran’s recent hit song, “Perfect.”
Gabi Schachat has a beautiful velvet lyric tenor which he uses skillfully. His rendition of Don Maclean’s “Vincent” was moving and well interpreted while his younger brother Micha displayed natural talent and presence which no doubt he will nurture when he completes his national service. His performance of Frank Sinatra’s “Just the Way You Look Tonight” was wonderfully rhythmic and musical.
The two brothers also performed a colorful and imaginatively arranged version of “Everytime I Look at You,” the 1992 hit originally performed by KISS but more recently renewed by Il Divo from which their rendition was inspired.
The Ofer Portugaly Gospel singers provided skilled musical backing where required and outstanding solo items. Their charming professionalism and attention to musical detail added an additional dimension to this concert. Ofer and his wife, Iris, who met 30 years ago, established the ensemble in 1999 after being inspired by the gospel music they heard in Nigerian churches.
All in all, it was a delightful, professional and memorable musical presentation of a cleverly selected repertoire. Hopefully, audiences around Israel and the world will be afforded the opportunity to enjoy the magical musical talents of the Schachat family’s tour de force with the Ra’anana Symphonette Orchestra, which is titled, “Melodies.”
“What an incredible evening,” said Telfed chair Batya Mowszowsky Shmukler.
“Thank you, Colin, and your amazingly talented family and to everyone else who performed. Telfed was honored to be part of such a wonderful event.”
AN OBSERVANT Jew, Schachat – a businessman and musician – was born in Johannesburg, and made Aliyah to Ra’anana in 1992 at the age of 30 with his wife, Nicky, with whom he has four sons: Besides Gabi and Micha, their younger sons are Rafi, 25, and David, 17.
“David our youngest son, also acts as our informal consultant and is instrumental in assisting us select a good repertoire,” Schachat says. “I have always had two professions, one in the business world and the second of course music.”
Ironically, as much as he loves it, Schachat finds his musical career can be quite demanding. “Nicky always remarked that when other people engage in a hobby or pastime they do so in order to relax or be distracted from the stress and pressures of work life, but my pastime or second profession in fact is often more stressful than my other business involvements and activities,” he says.
How does he cope with the stress? “On occasion, when feeling stressed when I am just about to go on the stage for a performance, I ask myself, ‘What do i need all this extra pressure and tension for in my life?’ I then remind myself of my mantra which has accompanied me for much of my life: I work to feed my family and sing to feed my soul! Both are interdependent.”
During his performance in Ra’anana, he told the audience the following anecdote as an introduction to one of the songs he performed.
“When my kids were younger, they had to listen to me practice my Chazanut, either for a concert performance or shul engagement. As the years went by, I began to perform more and more opera and classical music. This prompted my second son, Rafi, to ask me, ‘Abba (dad), when you were young, did you ever sing music that people actually wanted to hear?’ The truth is I did, and from time to time still do! At that point, I sang a new orchestral arrangement of Billy Joel’s Piano Man.”
Over the years, he has performed in concerts with the world’s leading orchestras, choirs and singers. His unique rich baritone voice combined with rare artistic versatility have helped him build up an international career and reputation well beyond the borders of Israel. He has established himself internationally both as a renowned baritone and cantor, and performs a wide range of classical, folk and popular songs, including opera, musical theater, Neapolitan, Italian, Yiddish, cantorial, Hassidic and Hebrew music.
His career achievements are uniquely impressive in that he has managed to perform to critical acclaim at the highest international standards across the spectrum of so many musical genres. He regularly performs in the UK, Israel, Canada, the US, South Africa and Europe, and has appeared numerous times on radio and television. Shachat sings in a multitude of languages, including Hebrew, English, Yiddish, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Afrikaans.
Over the years, Schachat has evolved into a singer and entertainer of international standing.
His warm, sensitive and charismatic personality adapt easily to the required style of each genre, was well matched by a sincere rapport he developed with the audience. He has clearly learned from and been influenced by the illustrious international artists with whom he has performed and recorded over the past three decades.
In addition to a recital at Buckingham Palace, he has performed for an impressive range of world leaders – including Shimon Peres, Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger, and many others – and has , during the course of his career, been accompanied by major international orchestras.
He has sung, inter alia, with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (IBA), the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa, the National State Orchestra of Lithuania, the National State Orchestra of Latvia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony Orchestra, the Brandenburg State Symphony Orchestra, the Potsdam Kantorei Choir, and Germany’s leading orchestra, the NDR Radiophilharmonie.
Schachat has recorded and released many CDs, including a recording of Opera Classics with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on which he is the principle featured soloist. The recordings feature a wide repertoire, including classical and liturgical music with a variety of leading symphony orchestras and ensembles.
In addition to his operatic and singing performances, he has also performed oratorio roles, including that of the lead soloist in Bloch’s Sacred Service and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
He says his career highlights include his performances at Buckingham Palace, at Peres’s Israel Presidential Conference, gala concerts with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Broadway musicals, cantorial concerts, international musical events, and most recently with Bocelli in Porto Venere. “It was an unforgettable experience and an amazing privilege,” he says of his performance, for which they rehearsed in the latter’s home in Tuscany.
The sang two duets in beautiful harmony – Vieni Sul Mar and Au Fond du Temple Saint. Schachat has also performed with other renowned singers such as legendary tenors Jose Carreras and Neil Shicoff, iconic Jewish crooners Dudu Fisher and Cantor Yitzhak Meir Helfgott, and has even shared the stage with modern rock legends Van Morrison and Rick Astley.
Asked if he gets nervous when performing with such famous singers, he says, “Performers who have achieved true greatness are not insecure or threatened. They thus engender a calm and relaxed professionalism, allowing one to perform well and enjoy the musical experience.”
Schachat modestly notes that while he revels in “the excitement and thrill of being able to perform with esteemed performers and conductors in major events around the world,” nothing surpasses the satisfaction of being able to leverage his musical talent for the benefit of a worthy cause. He is thus often associated with fundraising and philanthropic initiatives both in Israel and abroad, with the aim of playing a small part in trying to make the world a better place.
“The world would benefit immensely if there was more frequent interaction between the arts, commerce and philanthropy,” he says. “We should all do our bit to make this happen.”