My choirs are an extension of myself; another side of my musical persona. It’s only natural that I share with my groups my taste in musical styles, my personal favorites, my dedication to excellence and artistry, my desire to connect with an audience, my work ethic, my almost religious belief in humor. And in doing so, it seems, I redefine, clarify, and reinforce these same things within myself on a daily basis – far more than I ever could do if I only worked alone.
The inspiration for my love of choir comes from my junior high and high school experiences. The “John F. Kennedy High School Choir” (Plainview, New York) conducted by Ronald Cohen was the prototype for everything that I have done in the field since. The friends I had in choir shared more with me, on so many levels, than friends made elsewhere. They are my friends to this very day, though we live so far apart. We shared the work, the music, the communion, the elation and the joy, the love of our director and the following of his dream, and this has lasted a lifetime.
For as satisfying as solo performance may be, there is something exponentially greater in sharing performance with a group with whom you have worked. The result is far greater than the sum of its parts. When all the voices are singing their own individual parts clear and true and in perfect synch with one another, and you are lucky enough to finally, finally hear those elusive overtones ringing – the magic happens. And when it does, it’s a communal reward for all the hard work. You all understand that this special moment could only have been achieved together. Add yet an appreciative audience to the equation, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
I was surprised to learn that the man responsible for the quote, “God is in the details”, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was an architect. I could have sworn he’d be a choir director! The details of choir directing are indeed endless. So much so, that one must constantly prioritize: What to work on in the time allotted is the constant question. In the long run, you need to deal with every imaginable aspect – musical and otherwise.
So … what's really involved?
Jeanne Rabin’s Ensemble
Established in November, 1994, “Jeanne Rabin’s Ensemble” has consistently been an outstanding group on the Israeli choir scene in its level of performance, its repertoire, and in its energy. Being one of the most popular and sought after groups in Israel, “The Ensemble” has had innumerable performances of every sort and has participated in various festivals (including “Abu Ghosh” and “Festival Arad”), competitions (winners of “Shirat HaAretz 2001” and gold diploma recipients at “Sulam Mila 2002, 2004, 2006), official Israeli national and municipal events as well as a long list of private productions.
“Jean’s”, based in Hod Hasharon, Israel, was established in the fall of 1998. Its 30 singers represent each and every possible walk of life.
Good, solid, serious musical work, hand in hand with a particularly warm, family-like atmosphere, have made every “Jean’s” rehearsal and performance something very special indeed.
Our popularity is due in equal measure to the high quality of our performances and to our repertoire,“Love Around the World”, a wonderful songbook comprised of original five-part arrangements (all arranged by Jeanne Rabin herself) of the world’s most beloved love songs of all time – both in Hebrew and English, with a sprinkling of other languages as well.
The “Rosh Tov” choir from Rosh HaAyin began its journey in September 2006. As its name implies (the phrase “Rosh Tov” in Hebrew connotes fun and a good atmosphere), this group has a light, vivacious character alongside its serious professional aspirations.
Its repertoire includes lots of rhythm: international and Israeli pop songs, Beatles, Gershwin, musicals – all arranged by Jeanne in five part harmony.
Among its most successful performances to date: “Sealed With A Kiss” (2007, 2008), special tribute evenings to lyricists Yoram Teharlev and Shimrit Or (produced by the RoshHaAyinMunicipality), second place in the choir competition “Kol Rishon”, (Rishon LeZion, Succoth, 2008), and semi-final status in the “Zemer Lach Artzi” competition, 2010. We owe a special thank you to Patrick Kelly and Alex Eshed of “SingIsrael”, who have coached us periodically along the way.
(KATZEFET joined the virtual “Choir Hall of Fame” as it closed its doors in summer 2011 – see below)
The summer of 2008 brought an invitation to participate in the prestigious “Vivace” competition/festival in Veszprem, Hungary along with seven other choirs from Taiwan, Turkey, Portugal, Lithuania, Latvia,Macedonia and Finland. The festival opening in the community center brought all the choirs together to sing (what the Hungarians called) the “common pieces”; songs all had prepared at home in advance. “Katzefet’s” confidence was a bit shaky after hearing the voices surrounding them. “We felt as if those young singers were all sight-reading professionals, way out of our league”, says one “Katzefet” member. “But Jeanne took us in hand, and with no pity on us or on herself, polished our performance in the two days we had left till the competition. She kept stressing the fact that though the other choirs may perhaps have an edge on us vocally, we have something special of our own to offer: we can give the audience a show they won’t forget!” And she was right. “Katzefet” rose to the occasion and gave its best performance to date.