Kol Haneshama Brings Virtual Voice to Community with Tribute to Founder

By Adam Grobman

E-Harmony? For Kol Haneshama, Harrisburg’s Jewish Chorus, it’s not an online dating site.

The 12-piece chorus is bringing their collective virtual voice to the community with a four-part series of videos featuring music from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical in tribute to their founder, Janet Merkel Staub (z’l).

“There are lots of Jewish composers represented in this collection,” says David Spector, the administrative director of the chorus. “Not just King/Goffin, but Leiber/Stoller and Neil Sedaka.”

David says that the chorus began online rehearsals last March when the shutdown started, and quickly took note of choruses from around the country putting together virtual programs. As rehearsals went on, they decided, along with artistic director and conductor Marina Cherepinsky, to hold a virtual program in place of their annual tribute concert.

“People of all generations are familiar with this material,” says Marina, noting the success of the Broadway musical from which it is drawn. “We wanted to do a project that is not only exciting for our singers, but for the community. It has a universal appeal.”

David says that the project has helped keep the chorus connected with each other during the pandemic and allowed them to keep their skills sharp.

“Like any other thing, you lose it if you don’t lose it,” David says. “We wanted to make sure that we maintained some of the progress we’ve made over the past seven years of learning to be a good chorus.”

Basic musical tracks were recorded by the groups, piano player, Daniel Glessner, with each singer adding their own audio and video track from makeshift home “studios” – bedrooms, kitchens, and home offices.

“It’s been a real challenge,” says David, noting both the difficulty of the material as well as recording without a live conductor. “But, we’re ready to roll it out.”

In fact, part 1 – a recording of Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” – has already been posted to Jewish Federation’s Facebook and Youtube pages. Part 2 is expected to be released shortly.

“We want people to know that we haven’t gone away and hopefully continue to provide financial support,” says David. “We hope this will help the community keep us in mind and have a little joy.”

Kol Haneshama Presents Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – Choral Selections is this year’s Annual Tribute to chorus founder Janet Merkel Staub (z’l) and will include four parts. Part 1 is available now on Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg’s Youtube and Facebook page.

To help sustain Kol Haneshama during the pandemic and into the future, give online at www.jewishhharrisburg.org/kol/kol-haneshama-donations.