April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Two weeks ago I was presented with an envelope by our children Chavie and Chaim. On the envelope was written “Happy Early Birthday Mommy.” In fact, my Hebrew birthday is not until the first day of chol hamoed Sukkot and my English birthday this year lands directly on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. I excitedly opened the envelope and found inside a ticket for the New York Philharmonic. It was not for a random performance but to attend an evening listening to the complete score of Leonard Bernstein’s exquisite West Side Story. A more perfect gift I could never have received because all of my children know that I am a great lover of Broadway musicals and they grew up listening to and hearing me sing all of the words from many different shows. From Officer Krupke of West Side Story to Eliza Doolittle as she Danced All Night in My Fair Lady we enjoyed them all.

The plan was for Chavie and I to spend the evening together first having dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Noi Dui, and then to attend the concert. As a former cello player and member of an orchestra, hearing the music was almost as exciting as watching the intricacies of the orchestra ensemble. Everyone in sync with each other from the strings, to the winds, to the horns, to the percussion and everyone else. It has been a long time since I had this opportunity and it thrilled me from the moment that the first violinist entered the stage and raised her baton to begin the process of tuning the string instruments until the appearance of the conductor.

One could see the involvement of the audience as they both watched the large screen where the movie was shown above the stage to the frequent syncing of lips as they wanted to join along with the familiar tunes.

I reminisced with Chavie and later with my dear Mordechai how sad it is that in this day and age we rarely have the opportunity to sing along with newly composed songs. We grew up in an age when it was quite okay to listen to “show tunes” as well as to croon along with many different singers. Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Vic Damone and many others were part of our growing up. Gradually as Shlomo Carlebach became a success we listened to his original songs as well. Along came Theodore Bikel and slowly, slowly the Jewish record business began its climb with more and more entries joining in. Believe it or not there were the Modzitz niggunim, the Lubavitch niggunim and eventually the individual singers emerged to the record scene.

Today when we turn on the radio we are unable to find one tune that is familiar to us. There is no such thing as singing along. In most cases the songs have no tune and the words, if we could hear them, are unintelligible, and even if we did get the gist of what the singers are saying, the words are so disgusting that we would never be able to say them out loud. Many of the singers look like total social misfits and we cannot imagine anyone wanting their child to listen to such trash.

Yes, we talk of the good old days but honestly there were certain things about them that remind us of how lucky we were to have grown up then and to have learned to appreciate things such as the fine art of music. How many of our children and grandchildren today have any appreciation of music? Most have no idea of what it would mean to sit and listen to an hour of classical music or understand what the mechanics of an orchestra are. How do those amazing sounds blend together as one so easily? I wish there was a way to explain to our children that there is more to music than Shwekey, Mordechai Ben David, Yehuda Green and whoever else they listen to.

Chavie and Chaim, thank you for a thoughtful and amazing present. As you know it thrilled me and I am still “Feeling Pretty.”

By Nina Glick

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