Avery Fisher Hall
By: Yossi Zweig
Photography by: Stan Weiss
Can you imagine? An organization like HASC has had 23 annual concerts?? There is nothing like this in the whole Jewish world. How would you kick off a 23rd concert? By bringing two of the biggest Jewish music stars around today Avraham Fried & Lipa, that’s how! You bring back Yisroel Lamm, Dedi and musicians that have played this show for years. Nachum Segal, the M.C. of the evening, welcomed us to Avery Fischer Hall for HASC XXIII. The concert, a Suki & Ding production, with music by the Neginah Orchestra, and maestro Yisroel Lamm began with a 2 part Overture. Two parts you might ask? Yes, two parts. Part one consisted of famous songs from the performers of the evening played by the orchestra and accompanied by the Simcha Ensemble lead by Shloime Kaufman. Part two however, was very different. It consisted of some past HASC melodies played “country style”. There was Paul Wheil on the violin, Steve Bill on banjo and whistler Jim Hynes. The crowd loved the new flavor of this piece arranged by Yisroel Lamm. It was like fond memories, with a little twist.
Nachum Segal came on stage and announced the main act of the evening, Lipa & Avremel. From nowhere, the 6 Flags theme song came on and someone dressed like the Six Flags old man dancer was on stage dancing. Then, a clone of the first man joined him. Way up, almost on the ceiling, another was dancing his way down a rope, while being lowered onto the stage, and the three of them proceeded to dance. When the number was up, the first was revealed to be Avremel, the second Lipa, but who was the third? It definitely wasn’t Dedi. It was Bello the clown from the Greatest Show on Earth. That was quite an entrance. Bello exited the stage and Avremel and Lipa jumped right into their first number with some great classics such as Emes Ma Nehedar/Mareh Kohen. After a great big welcome to HASC XXIII the only way to welcome an audience of this caliber was to sing Fried’s Boruch Haba.
Now we were getting down to business. Lipa walked off stage and Avremel began to tell of the song composed by R’ Yom Tov Ehrlich called “The Torah” about the Malach Hashem sent out to ask the nations if they want the torah. Avremel sang this song on his first Yiddish album and it is a gorgeous song. As he got to the part of the Malach approaching the nation of Russia and asking them if they wanted the Torah, Lipa entered from stage right dressed for the Russian winter and told Fried, “Nain”, they don’t want the torah. That is exactly how the rest of the song was performed. Avremel acted the part of the Malach and Lipa as the nations. It was spectacular and the oil am really enjoyed it. After talking about the Yidden accepting the Torah, what better song to transition into than Lipa’s very own Torah Shebiksav together with Avremel.
Fried told us that the day of the concert is the Baal Hatanya’s yahrtzeit and in his honor we should sing some famous Lubavitch songs. Of course two or three of the songs were niggunim so I can’t tell you what they were called, but in addition to those niggunim he sang Uforatzta, Didan Notzach, We Want Moshiach Now, and what better way to finish than Hopp Kossack. Everyone was singing along as they all knew these songs. It set a very spiritual tone for the evening.
Nachum Segal invited the chairman and awardees to receive their awards and tell of their experiences with the HASC organization and camps. Abie Eisner, Chairman, introduced Senator Charles Schumer, who accepted an award and in turn introduced Speaker Sheldon Silver. There were some big hitters in the house and I don’t just mean Lipa & Avremel. Speaker Silver said towards the end of his speech how proud he is to share the stage with Lipa and Avraham Fried. Everyone had a good laugh.
Now it was time for Lipa to shine. He had the stage all to himself and performed three songs that were introduced especially for HASC over the last few years. Gelt, Abi M’leibt, and of course the world famous Lipa Diet had the audience “eating” it up.
It was time to get serious. This year we, the Jewish people and HASC, lost three people close to our hearts. Izzy Taubenfeld of Sameach Music, Chezky Ehrenfeld and Aliza Shull. In their memory Avremel sang a heartrending rendition of Gam Ki Eilech with the Simcha Ensemble lead by Shloime Kaufman. By the time the last few chords faded away there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Avremel walked around the stage when he saw a makeshift bed with covers over someone’s head. He started to say, “Lipa, Get Up! Wake up already”. He asked the crowd to join in, and soon everyone was chanting, “ Lipa, Lipa”. Then, a hand slowly appeared followed by a head. Wait! It was not Lipa, but Dedi. “What am I, chopped liver?” Dedi asked. With a big laugh Dedi asked Yisroel Lamm in his signature way “Yisrael, give me music!” Kulanu K’echad started up. There is just something about Dedi and his charisma that brings joy to people and has thousands of people singing in their seats “Ouuu Ouuu Ouuu”. Dedi asked the band to tone it down a bit when the audience was singing with him Kulanu K’echad Yachad. All I can say is that there is NO ONE like Dedi.
Lipa was back and I guess after the nap back stage he needed to “Wake Up”. With a few new rhymes here and there the crowd was awake and wanted more. Lipa exited the stage and Avremel entered.
Avremel told a story of when Pavarotti was performing at Avery Fischer Hall.Pavarotti sang The L-rd Is My Sheperd after the applause quieted down up in the balcony a Alter Yid stands up and begins singing: Mizmor Ldovid, Hashm Roie Lo Echsor, and soon the entire audience is in tears. After the concert Pavorroti tracks down this Yid and asks him “whats you secret?? How did you get the entire crowd to cry?”
The yid answers, “Mr. Pavorroti, you know the Psalm, but I know the Sheperd”. Avremel then started one of my all-time favorite and amazing Fried songs, Tattenyu.
Lipa joined Avremel on stage and asked why he couldn’t sing something more upbeat. “Oldies are good, but people want to feel happy and we need something that has a beat.” Fried responded, “How about this?” He began with sings Netzor Leshoincha. Lipa responded, “You need something with a little… hmmm how about this? If I were a rich man… Everyone was laughing and Lipa/Fried then went through various oldies but goodies like; Tradition, Recession, Matchmaker, Aishes Chayil, Sunrise, Sunset and finally To Life, L’chaim.
Lipa asked for his “brother” Dedi to join him and Avremel on stage. They announced that they were going to sing a set of some very popular songs of today, from popular singers like Yaakov Shwekey & MBD. This next set was amazing! Yossi Green’s Anovim , Yonatan Razel’s Vhei Sheomda, and MBD’s Kulom Ahuvim completed the set. Avery Fischer Hall was on its feet clapping and singing. We are talking about some major hits of today and that were performed by these three HUGE super star performers.
Now at that point we were asking ourselves, “How do you top that? I am sure the show is over”. We were so wrong.
Lipa invited composer and singer, Reb Yitzchak Fuchs, the composer of Hallelu to come on stage and join him. If you have never before heard or seen Yitzchak Fuchs like a lot of people that night, you were in for a surprise. Imagine if you can, a man in his 50’s with a long white beard and long flowing peiyos strumming on a guitar with his head swaying to and fro, that is Fuchs. Yitzchak didn’t open his eyes. He just swayed and strummed until his turn to sing approached. Then, this deep melodious voice emerged and people just sat there spellbound. That is Yitzchak Fuchs. Add to that the incredible arrangements of Mendy Hershkowitz (Freilach Orchestra) with Yisroel Lamm and the Neginah Orchestra and you might get the picture. When they were done the audience got up and wanted more, but that was all they were getting.
Next, was a cute video shot in a Bank where Lipa wanted money. He met Uncle Moishy on the way in and the bank teller was Fried. Lipa said he needed money to pay his bill and Fried said he needed ID. Avremel finally told him that he should raise his hand to the Father in heaven and ask for help! A warning appeared on the video, “RAISING YOUR HANDS IN A BANK IS NOT A GOOD IDEA!” The video cut away to Lipa performing Hentalach around the world, which was originally sung on the Oorah CD.
The night was winding down, and a HASC concert could not be a HASC concert without a video of camp HASC. Avremel composed a song to go to the video called “Changing the World One Smile At a Time”, which he performed live. It was a beautiful song and of course the video was very emotional.
Nachum Segal announced that it was time for the finale. How do you end a Lipa/Fried HASC concert? Avremel’s Sisu, Lipa’s Raboisai, Dedi’s V’kovei, Fried’s Matzliach, Lipa’s Shelo Osani Goy, and finally the hope of Chazak.
The entire hall left with smiles and humming the HASC anthem to dim the lights. As we all left Avery Fischer Hall on January 10th, 2010, we were all looking forward to HASC XXIIII in Yerushalayim. For more information on HASC and their programs please plus more photos and updates visit www.hasc.net.
2 Lipa’s are Lipa & Avremel
(from l to r) Speaker Sheldon Silver, Shmeil Kahn, Senator Charles Schumer, Rabbi Stern, honoree Abe Kopolovich & Abie Eisner
Avremel singing Gam Ki Eileich Tribute