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Yeshiva Boys Choir Volume III

Eli Gerstner Does It Again!

Nobody knows exactly how the segment of "Kol Hamispallel" from YBC Live got posted on You-Tube, the world- famous internet video site. Eli Gerstner didn't post it. And neither did his distributor Izzy Taubenfeld of Sameach Music. But somehow it ended up there. And like so many of Gerstner's productions, it's become wildly popular beyond anyone's imagination.

Close to 700,000 people have 'hit' upon the video, between You-Tube, Google Video & a few other video sharing sites, and the number is fast reaching towards the million mark. The live recording is being played on computers across America and Heaven only knows where else. There's something about the wholesomeness of the choir, the cheerfulness of the melody and the inspiration behind the song that has gotten hundreds of thousands of people hooked. Eli's been getting calls and emails from all over the world who are eager to reach him and tell him how his music is changing their lives.

It's all par for the course, as far as Eli's concerned. He's been contacted by so many different types with so many unimaginable requests that nothing surprises him anymore. Like the time a public school teacher in Arizona purchased fifty tickets to a Chevra concert for his African American and Hispanic students. (Why? Because they love the music!) Or the producer who asked permission to use Kol Hamispallel as a theme song for a video & then asked "what does these words mean"? Or the planeload of teenagers who started singing "Yehai" on a birthright trip to Israel. Etc. Etc. For Eli, every day brings along its own adventure.

But we digress. Let's get back to Eli and Yeshiva Boys Choir. "It's been two years on the button," says Eli, "since we released our last YBC album. Since then, things have been absolutely crazy." That's the understatement of the century, for sure. The popularity of YBC Live has not only shattered the all-time record for a Jewish music video, it has in fact doubled the all-time record. It's being snatched up faster than stores can stock it. So now, of course, inevitably the pressure is on to produce YBC Live 2.

Fortunately for everybody, it won't be long in coming. The Yeshiva Boys Choir will IY"H perform at Queens College on Chol Hamoed Pesach (April 5th) together with the Chevra and Tek-noy. These songs will be recorded live at the performance and will undoubtedly be included in YBC Live 2. This means that those who are lucky enough to attend the concert will be a part of Jewish music recording history. (Make sure to look good. There will be cameras scanning the audience.) This concert, by the way, will be held in the evening of the same day as the choir's huge gala Chol Hamoed concert at Madison Square Garden with the Ringling Brothers circus, before an audience of 20,000. That, too, will no doubt be a historic occasion.

Somehow, besides all of this excitement and history in the making, Eli and the choir somehow found it possible to create YBC 3, an album which is being released imminently. Eli is gracious enough to give us a sneak preview of its greatness. He tells us to look out for "Shabichi", which will probably be heralded as the trademark song of the album. Similar in style to former YBC greats, the song is a tribute to Hashem, an expression of thanks for all the wonderful things in the world. As Eli says, "I am filled with hakoras hatov. I know that with a snap of the fingers everything in life could change. So I'm grateful for the siyata dishmaya which Hashem has shown me until now and I hope to continue to bring music and inspiration to klal yisroel."

Our sneak preview continues with a song which is called "Boreich" but is actually pronounced "Booraich". This is YBC's version of a lively Chassidic nigun. For the sake of authenticity, Eli included several young chassidishe soloists, courtesy of Chaim Yitzchok Goldman of Bobover boys choir fame, to sing the song. The results? "It sounds like it came straight from the "Rebbe's tisch."

Another noteworthy selection is called "In a Song," and it's actually the first time ever that Eli has put an English song on an "EG Production". Eli's inspiration for that selection came during the tragic Gush Katif expulsion a year and a half ago. "When that happened," he says, "I sat there in tears. I just felt I had to write something." It's a song of unity and achdus, a song of hope and inspiration. It will be performed live for the first time at Queens College.

As usual, Eli writes the songs, music and the harmonies for YBC while Yossi Newman conducts the choir and teaches the kids. "Our soloists are always amazing," Eli comments, "But especially so on this album. If you liked YBC 1 and 2, you're going to love YBC 3. It has many of the elements that have made the first two albums so popular because, as Eli sees it, why mess around with a good thing? "The way I look at it," he says, "I work with the same formula because people love it."

What's special about Yeshiva Boys Choir? The name says it all. They are Yeshiva boys first and then a choir second. Their entire demeanor is aidel and fine. Ranging in age from seven to thirteen, they are young and wholesome and innocent. And that's why they captivate their listeners every time they sing.

Those listeners apparently include the 700,000 people from all over the world, who are downloading their music. Even they can feel the magnetic energy behind the YBC boys. Here's how Eli explains it: There's something about children singing that captures the hearts of all those who listen to them. These kids have no ego, they have no motive, they're not looking for compensation or for fame. They're singing because they love it and because their souls are in it. It's pure, energetic and powerful.

Audiences are similarly touched. Once in a while Eli will turn around and face the audience while he's conducting the orchestra. Everybody out there is smiling. Certainly other performers may also be successful, and other concerts are sold out regularly. But there's just something so hartzig about the choir. It transcends all boundaries and speaks to every individual on a personal level. Eli likes to say, "We touched a nerve." But it's more than that. Eli's created an entire stratosphere of simcha and inspiration for all of us to enjoy.


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