Friday, October 5, 2012

Little Black Dresses and the IDF

Shalom, chaverim! I'm writing this on Friday morning, slowly descending from my post-performance euphoria following a concert I performed in last night. A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to join an excellent local choir. I'd heard them perform at Nes Amim, the world's only Christian kibbutz, last spring. When I saw the outstanding skills and musicality of the conductor, Chen Zafrir, and heard what she could produce from an amateur group, I immediately knew I wanted to join them.

However, I'd happened to attend the last performance of the season, so I had to wait until fall for them to start up again. Once again, our real estate agent and friend, Yoram Shurany, came to the rescue. He made a phonecall to Chen, got the details about the rehearsal times and locations, and was even kind enough to "pitch" me to her. So instead of needing to shlep out to her house to audition, I was allowed to start attending rehearsals right away. Not only that, but Yoram also contacted another choir member who lives nearby, who kindly agreed to let me ride along with him to rehearsals. Yoram, what in the world would we do without you?

I began attending rehearsals a couple of weeks ago. We meet at 8 p.m. every Sunday night at a community center for local kibbutzim and moshavim, and rehearse until 10:30 p.m. That's a late night for me, since I'm used to going to bed at 10:00 every evening. However, it's such a great group of people, and Chen is such an engaging director, the time just disappears. It's only the next morning that I start to feel it.

About a week after I joined, I got a rather panicked call from Chen. We were to perform at the Renaissance Festival on October 4th, at a nearby Crusader's fortress, which is part of the Yechiam kibbutz. One of the key pieces on the program was Vivaldi's "Gloria," in which there are several solos and one soprano duet. Israel being what it is, the second soprano of the duet had suddenly been drafted into the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), which meant there was a sudden opening for the"Laudamus Te" number. My big break had finally come. Time to go shopping...this olah chadahsa needs a little black dress!

I quickly enlisted the help of my good friend Jody Garbe, a sister olah chadasha from Canada and fashionista extraordinaire, who helped me find the gown of the century. After a few false starts at the local department store and some other boutiques, we finally found the dress at Dina's, a little place I'd passed on the way to Ulpan for months, but had never had the guts to enter. Trust Jody to find the store that is reputedly the most upscale one in town, where the Mayor's wife and other members of the Nahariya hoi-polloi frequent.

If you need a personal shopper, jewelry procurer, hatmaker, artist, or just a great friend in your life, talk to Jody. You can also visit her blog at

Jody is so cool that she even painted a card for me in honor of the event. Wow! The last time anyone ever drew a picture of me was when I was about five years old. She was even kind enough to use her artistic license to make my face look more sculpted (read: less jowly) than it actually is. What a mensch!

This card separates the women from the girls. I am ashamed to say I have offered words of congratulations to others written on postcards I've picked up for free.

The concert went very well. Since we were peforming in a stone room with vaulted ceilings and a dirt floor the acoustics were exeedingly live. Our amazing Ukrainian-Israeli accompanist, Ina, played on an electric piano that also had organ effects. Fortunately, it wasn't just a cheap Casio; rather, it sounded very good and, naturally, was also in tune. As the weather is so humid and changeable here, it is very difficult to keep acoustic pianos in tune, so tonal quality sometimes has to trump historic authenticity. (Although, to be honest, if we were really going for historic accuracy, we'd have had a chamber orchestra accompanying us. And that is not in the budget now, nor will it ever be.)

Here are some glamour shots from the event.

View from the Fortress itself, looking towards Nahariya and the sea. Invading infidel wanna-be's, beware!

Some of the choir. If I get a different camera lens someday, Elul will be able to take wider shots.

Left to right: Me, contralto Victoria, and soprano Sivan. Now, all we need is an agent.

Sivan's and my big moment of glory, performing "Laudamus Te."

Left to right: Accompanist Ina, conductor Chen, and me, enjoying the post-concert afterglow.

Finally, if you're interested in what "Laudamus Te" sounds like, here's a great YouTube video clip I found when I was rehearsing. In fact, I used the dress worn by the second soprano (the singer with her hair pinned up) as my shopping inspiration. You can't get any cooler than modelling sexy Italian sopranos, right? And of course, if you can't see the video, go directly to my blog at

Shabbat shalom, everyone!

1 comment:

Thank you for reading my blog. I am interested in your comments, but I will delete anything that is either spam or just plain nasty. Please do not use the comments forum as a political or religious soapbox--there are SO many other online forums for those kinds of tedious arguments!