Saturday, April 22, 2017

My man, Azi

Azi Schwartz
First fell in love with the voice of Azi Schwartz – can’t remember when, exactly.  It may have been the anniversary of 9/11 in 2015, where he appears at an interfaith prayer service alongside the Pope, chanting a Jewish prayer for the fallen. He first sings the memorial prayer adapted for the victims of 9/11 and then follows with the Oseh Shalom, in which he’s got even the cardinals singing along. Shows you what he’s capable of.

Here he is singing at a memorial at the U.N. for the Holocaust.

And here he is singing in Budapest (with a little crowd-pleasing introduction in Hungarian):   The occasion is the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, in 2008.  They picked my 8th birthday, May 14, 1948 for the actual founding date. Not that I want to make this about me, but you have to admit that’s a powerful way to get your attention.  Anyway, Sim Shalom.  A lovely melody. Romaji and English translation available here

Here’s a more informal version of it, where Azi sings it along with the song’s composer, Zina Goldrich. 

And here he is, in his home synagogue, the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York, leading the congregation in L’kha Dodi.  Romaji and English here.  

And here he is with the Israeli Philharmonic singing the world’s most beautiful national anthem.

facade at Park Avenue Synagogue in New York
with which both Azi and Rabbi Cosgrove are affiliated
Doing the Hasidic Kaddish, with fellow good-looker rabbi, Elliot Cosgrove.  Watch till the end, and you’ll see what a hard act Azi is to follow.  

Rehearsing with the Berlin Chamber Choir, in 2013, preparing for a concert commemorating the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. (snippet only, unfortunately cut off way too soon.)

Another recording in Germany, this time with the RIAS Chamber Choir in Potsdam.  Adonai, Adonai 

Azi, in drag
How times have changed.  Can’t help noting some serious future shock here.  Potsdam today is a suburb of Berlin as well as the capital of the state of Brandenburg. It is known to historians for being the site of the Potsdam Conference, where Churchill, Stalin and Truman got together to decide what to do with the defeated Third Reich in 1945. And to tourists today mostly for being the location of Frederick the Great’s famous palace, Sans Souci. But when I lived in Berlin in the 60s, it was still the home of the occupying Russian Army. Very much East Germany. Not the Russian sector of Berlin, but East Germany itself. And here is Azi singing part of the Jewish High Holy Days liturgy with the RIAS Chamber Choir. RIAS stands for “Radio in the American Sector.” 

And I’ll end with the Kol Nidre, the Aramaic prayer sung on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It’s a modern version, sung a capella.  

If you want more, there’s an abundance available on YouTube.

Did I tell you I’m coming back as a cantor in my next life?  That’s the plan, anyway.

photos: bottom:Azi, horsing around in drag

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