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The Sweetest Sounds of Music: Eli Gerstner Presents The Yeshiva Boys' Choir

By Rochelle Maruch Miller

Mention Eli Gerstner's name to any Jewish music aficionado and you are sure to elicit unabashed praise. Small wonder - the musically prolific and personable performer, producer and composer is perhaps the most powerful force in the industry as evidenced by the phenomenal success of every one of his albums, past and present. Whether it is Eli's own sensational solo albums or the superb styling of the Chevra and Menucha, every project that this musical genius has undertaken bears his signature Midas touch. That virtually every one of his songs has become a classic is testament to the tremendous scope of his talent and creative artistry. Eli's musical masterpieces are the most requested in record stores, on JM radio shows and at simchas the world over.

It was, therefore, a matter of time before Eli would embark upon his latest endeavor - the Yeshiva Boys' Choir, a children's ensemble like no other. Featuring an exciting sound for 2004, this eagerly anticipated album is a highly recommended Chanukah gift for young and old. Featuring a sweet symphony of gorgeous voices, The Yeshiva Boy's Choir is the perfect panacea for the winter doldrums - a treasury of musical gems to savor and set your spirits soaring with a sound that is pure and richly satisfying.

It was Izzy Taubenfeld, President of Sameach Music, who first approached Eli with the idea of producing a new boys' choir. As the premier purveyor of superlative Jewish music, Izzy felt that the time was right for a new boys' group that would meet the expectations of a discerning audience. With his finger on the pulse of Jewish music, he is one of the most respected and acclaimed names in the industry. He felt that the public was ready for a boys' choir that would bring with it a contemporary appeal, featuring a 2004, contemporary sound that would be more 'today' and pop, with a Chevra style. Who better to undertake this endeavor than the genius responsible for Chevra's success - Eli Gerstner himself?

That Eli was interested and intrigued by the challenge was clear from the outset. But it would be a project of Herculean dimension. "It was a tremendous undertaking. In order to put together a good choir, you needed fifty good voices," Eli explained in an exclusive interview with Country Yossi Family Magazine. But by coincidence, he received a phone call from Yossi Newman, a close friend of Eli's since their camp days. "Yossi had written some songs for me that are on my solo and Menucha albums, and he coordinates and directs several children's choirs. He called to tell me that he was interested in making an album featuring a boys' choir. I told him that I would mention this to Izzy Taubenfeld to help get it underway, and when I did, Izzy was very interested. He said, 'Here is the perfect opportunity for you to produce an album featuring a boys' choir. I've been asking you to do this for years.'"

And therein lies the story.

When Eli called his friend Yossi Newman to tell him the good news, Yossi was elated. As a producer par excellence, the first step on Eli's agenda when working on an album is listening to every song. "I have to really believe in a song before I agree to feature it on an album," he explains.

"I listen carefully to every song before I select the ten that I feel will 'blow everyone away.' I was very impressed with three of the songs that Yossi composed - they passed the test with flying colors and are showcased on the album."

For Eli, every musical endeavor is a labor of love and The Yeshiva Boys' Choir is no exception. True to his tradition of orchestrating every project to perfection, this latest release is yet another musical masterpiece, ready to be unwrapped like a cherished gift. Featuring ten brilliantly produced selections by Eli, with the choir conducted by Yossi Newman. With meticulous attention to every detail of the album, it represents the very best in contemporary Jewish music. As he has done in every one of his previous hit albums, Eli has collaborated with the most respected and renowned names in the industry - Yisroel Lamm, Larry Gates and the Neshoma Orchestra - to produce still another Eli Gerstner classic in the tradition of Chevra and Menucha.

"Every album that I produce features songs that are arranged by Yisroel Lamm," Eli tells us. Adding an "old school meets new school" touch to every one of his albums attests to Eli's affinity in producing guaranteed crowd-pleasers. On The Yeshiva Boys' Choir, Yisroel Lamm has arranged "Gam Ki Elech," "Elokai Netzor" and "V'hu K'Chasan," each in the incomparable style that has made Yisroel Lamm a legend. Says Eli, "He always brings that maturity, that unique sound to every album."

To name any one favorite on this outstanding debut album is no easy feat. "Kol Hamispalel" features the same chord progression as "Yihei" and uses the same format. This opening song is destined to become a favorite of the thousands who love "yihei."

If "Shir Hamalos" is especially meaningful to Eli, it is with good reason for he composed this song
immediately after his wedding. "There's a certain innocence, a certain 'heartzigkeit' to this song that only a child can bring to it. This is the first tehillim that is said in times of need, and I wrote the song with this in mind. Only a child can bring out the purity of this song."

"Yiru Eineinu" is a very lively and spirited song with a distinct style. Gam Ki Elech," one of the three songs arranged by Yisroel Lamm on this album, is a beautiful song in the tradition of Shlomo Carlebach.

"Malochim," composed by Eli and Yossi, is a true horah - very lively and switches rhythm from salsa to rock. This song is certain to become one of the most sought after selections at simchas.

"Adon Olom" is totally unique, with a distinctive style and piano-oriented. "I'm very excited about it," Eli explains, his enthusiasm evident. "It's a little bit of pop and a little bit of country" - and a lot of terrific, we might add!

"Yisroel really outdoes himself in this arrangement," says Eli, describing Yossi Newman's "V'hu K'Chassan," a slow and very haunting melody that is distinctively New Age. Every cut on this album is unique and memorable in its own right and "V'al Kein" is truly a stand-out swing selection. Reminiscent of the big band era, it transcends generations and is the stuff of which classics are made. You'll love the unique twist and the richness of the clarinet.

"Elokai", Arranged by Yisroel Lamm and composed by Eli and Yossi, features the beautiful voice of soloist Yehuda Leib Sachs. And last, but certainly not least, is a song that will get everyone - from the tiniest tots to the much beloved bubbies and zeidies - up on their feet and dancing. "Tehilas Hashem" is a song you won't forget. Indeed, by all indications, it will be the #1 hit of the year. Mesmerizing and upbeat, this is a "techno" song - featuring all-synthesized music.

We love the Chevra, we love Menucha - we're gonna love the Yeshiva Boys' Choir! So run, don't walk, to the closest Judaica or Jewish music store to buy your copy of this amazing new release. Take it from us, it's as good as it gets!


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