Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Rebbe Of Sullivan St.

On Wednesday night Sullivan Street in the Village got some real Soul as PFAC start RebbeSoul performed a rare solo concert at Sullivan Hall. The Rebbe (Bruce Berger) who lives in Zichron Yaakov (that's the heart of Israel wine country!) was in the states for a tour, including dates on both coasts.
Rebbe performed on acoustic guitar and balalaika, with songs in English, Hebrew and Ladino.
Your trusty PioneerProducer jumped on stage to join Rebbe for a one up on Xmas in July- Hanuka in August! We played a cool modal version of Maoz Tzur with plenty of jamming space. DJM was on hand and recorded the proceedings on HiDef video, so watch this space for some links to YouTube to see those clips.
Meanwhile, if you haven't already downloaded RebbeSoul's incredible version of Shir Shomer, the Watchman's Song, click here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Yom Yerushalayim is coming!- Celebrate by helping cure cancer!

As we approach Yom Yerushalayim (May 12) we remember the day in 1967 when Jerusalem was united, and all people had equal access to the Old City, and the holy Western Wall.
Here is a transcript of then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan's address following the unification of the city:
This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour—and with added emphasis at this hour—our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples' holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.

Many, many songs have been written about Jerusalem, and we are proud to present some from our present collection, in honor of this year's Yom Yerushalayim.

This classic version of "Yerushalayim", by Avigdor HaMeiri, was recorded by the young and talented Alex Halpern (who was recently married, in Jerusalem!!) and Ayelet Argamon.

This is Alex, under the chuppa last month:

Here is some background on the song:

Avigdor HaMeiri (1890-1970), a Hungarian immigrant who arrived in Tel Aviv in 1921, composed the text for Yerushalayim for use in a 1929 production of his satirical theater known as HaKumkum (The Coffee Pot). Hameiri was one of the earliest voices to castigate the nascent yishuv for not reaching the lofty ideals embodied in its Jewish roots. The original version of the song, set to an anonymous Yiddish folk song, contained four verses. The second, true to its original satirical purpose, included the pioneer’s lament that, although he had arrived with a full heart and great enthusiasm, “How can I rebuild your Temple if there is no peace among your children?” The verse describes the different communities of Sephardic, Ashkenazic, dark-skinned and light-skinned, religious and non-religious Jews, and the in the chorus, the singer cries “Jerusalem, I did not envision this in my dream; Jerusalem, restore peace among your children.” The song was appropriated by the Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael in 1930 for use in its public relations campaign to raise awareness of – and funding for – the nascent yishuv, and thus achieved great fame throughout the Diaspora. In its wisdom, though, the Agency excluded that critical second verse (and the original third verse, as well), preserving only the lofty sentiments of the opening and closing stanzas. It is this version of the song which still encourages Jews around the world to turn toward the Holy City and to be inspired by its spiritual history, as well as the enormous accomplishments of its builders. (MBE)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Reelin' in the Years


After a long hiatus (be sure to read my soon to appear follow up post on what I have been up to for the past year..) from blogging I am proud to pick up my virtual pen once again, and wax poetic on my favorite combination of art and philanthropy.
Although the blogging guns have been silent, the creative juices at PFAC have been flowing, rather...gushing! We are approaching 100 new recordings of pioneering music from Israel and the United States, by some of the worlds top artists.
Check out a few of the many features in print and online media around the world:

Ovwer the next few postings you will learn about recordings made over the past year or so, including many top artists recording in Israel. Watch for a new podcast and video by famed NPR producer Jon Kalish. We will be announcing the launch of our new website (English and Hebrew) shortly- in the meantime you can go to our trusty and make a donation, watch a video or two, and get a peek at what is just around the corner.
Until then,
Am Yisrael Chai!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Updates Coming!

Greg will return with more updates on Pioneers For A Cure's progress.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Postcards From The Edge

When the first wave of immigrants to Palestine hit the shores of the Holy Land they were pioneers on many fronts. The new settlers, inspired by the leadership of Eliezar Ben Yehudah, started to integrate all facets of their lives with the Hebrew language. Even the old songs they sang and taught their children were given new life by the use of new Hebrew lyrics. The fact that each community had its own melodies, going back generations, became increasingly frustrating as time went on. Regional and political identities became overwhelmingly obvious through the music and dances people used for their all too infrequent social times.

The Keren Kayemet, now also known as The Jewish National Fund, realized that to build a country a common thread was needed, even deeper than the Hebrew language. Only when the settlers were all singing the same songs could real national unity be achieved. They commissioned many composers to compose folk songs that could be sung by all, and taught to all school children. But-how would these songs actually become part of the fabric of Jewish life in the settlements, and around the world?
There was no access to the media, or recording industries, and the digital age of instant distribution was not even a pipe dream. A decision was made to print the melody and words of the songs on traditional 5x7 postcards! Instead of a panoramic scene of the Gallilee, or the sun rising over the Negev, the new folk music of the land of Israel, printed on hundreds of thousands of postcards, ended up in the hands of people around the world.

This amazing and ingenious attempt to manufacture a folk music tradition by design soon came to the attention of Hans Nathan, a musicologist from the Jewish community of Berlin. He appreciated the brilliance of the postcards in light of the strong trends of Nationalism defining much of the recent concert music in the western world. Many well known composers, such as Bela Bartlok, Jean Sibelious, Sergei Prokofiev were incorporating their country's folk music into their recent work. Nathan was inspired to send postcards to the leading Jewish composers of the day, Aaron Copland, Darius Milhaud,Kurt Weill, Ernst Toch, Stephan Wolpe, and others, asking them to write new works based on these folk tunes.
They did- and the new Palestinian folk music was now art music.

The work of Hans Nathan in turn inspired producer Greg Wall and the Pioneers for a Cure production team to send postcards (by email, of course...) to many of today's most influential Jewish musical artists. Each artist was invited to conceive and record one song, perhaps recording it for the first time ever. Funds were raised to provide recording studio time, production assistance, and all administrative overhead. People everywhere are invited to join the initiative by purchasing virtual postcards, each containing a downloadable song, from the Pioneers For a Cure website. All proceeds raised from the sale of these postcards will go directly to the cancer charity selected by the artist featured on the card.

In the face of difficult economic times the resources of generous people are stretched in unpredictable ways. Music, art, and culture provide the framework for maintaining the humanity that defines our lives. We hope that Pioneers For a Cure: The Postcard project will inspire people to combine their need for cultural sustenance with an opportunity to help stop the scourge of the cancer crisis.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hangin’ with the Homeboyz....

Each artist who passed through Studio A was asked to “sign” our musical guest book, by recording a pass on Am Yisrael Chai-The People of Israel live on! We combined an obscure old pioneer song with a newer, famous tune written by the legendary Shlomo Carlebach, and managed to hear a few tasty licks from just about everybody!

I just got back from 24 hours in LA, where I had the pleasure of mixing the P-FAC anthem “Am Yisrael Chai” with none other than the great Bob Clearmountain and the amazingly talented Keith Olsen, at Bob’s private retreat high in the hills (Thanks Beth, for making the introductions!).
These guys are responsible for mixing and producing some of the greatest recordings of all time, and it was a thrill to have them jump on in and get down with the entire P-FAC family. This was not an easy task, as the project contained over 90 tracks!
Most tunes we recorded consisted of five or six tracks, plus another six if drums were used. Twenty or thirty tracks is pushing it, forty is bordering on insanity, and when we hit sixty our computers were belching smoke.
But ninety....imagine a house where fifty teenagers lived together in one try to imagine straightening up after now have an idea of the task at hand. Bob and Keith did not bat an eyelash as they elevated our monumental undertaking to heights we never imagined. Props to Bob Horn and Brandon Duncan for an incredible display of Pro Tools wizardry. Most of all, to our own Dave Richards, for recording everyone so beautifully, and for his hard work, great ideas and cool vibe, and to DJM, who once again showed why dreamers come out on top. It’s not easy to record 90 tracks, but pioneers do what’s never been done...

The Prodigious Daughter

Basya Schechter and her cleverly named band Pharaoh’s Daughter have made a considerable impact on the world/acoustic scene. Her sweet voice, whether together with her full ensemble or in tandem with her guitar, is a pleasure to behold. The pioneer song “Hiney Achalilah Bachalili" ( I Will Play My Flute) is a perfect tune for Basya and company as they turn in a masterful performance that hints of George Martin and the fab four…..all in the name of raising funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  

“Hiney Achalilah,” formally known as “Shirat HeChalil” is one of many odes to the ubiquitous instrument, written by nearly all the important composers of Israel. The term refers variously to the orchestral flute and to the recorder popular among the shepherds who entertained themselves and their flocks as they played. In particular, it was the musical influence of the Bedouin and Oriental Jewish herdsmen that struck an especially inspiring chord among Western-raised composers. The end result was a body of early songs with a decidedly Eastern flavor. “Hiney Achalilah” is a great example of these songs, with its dreamy, almost non-metrical verse, and the driving, debka-like rhythm of its spirited chorus.
Mordechai Zeira (1905 – 1968) is regarded as one of the “fathers of Israeli song.” Prior to his arrival in Palestine (from Russia in 1924) most of the popular songs were set to folk melodies brought from Europe with the new immigrants. It was during the fourth aliyah (roughly 1924 – 1931) that “composed songs” came to be written, and Zeira was one of the most prolific. He was also something of a “troubadour,” popularizing his tunes by singing them as he walked the length and breadth of his new homeland.(MBE)