A young mixed Jewish choir from Great Neck just hit a high note.
Hundreds of people filled the auditorium at Great Neck North High School and rose to their feet at the Shireinu Choir of Long Island’s first annual concert on Sunday, only eight months after it first came together to perform.
The concert featured songs in languages like English, Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino, also known as Judeo-Spanish, as well as a variety of tributes to composers like Leonard Bernstein, a renowned Jewish composer who would have turned 100 in August, as well as the late Steven M. Plon.
Among those songs were “Something’s Coming/Tonight” from West Side Story and “One Hand, One Heart,” which saw Stephanie Horowitz, a soprano, and Daniel Frankel, a tenor, take the lead. Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim originally crafted both songs.
Talia and Eden Katz, or “Katz Sisters” on stage, also embraced their inner Andrews Sisters in a performance of “Bei Mir Bistu Shein,” donning tan caps, while Sheldon Horowitz planed on a klezmer clarinet.
The choir also harkened back to a performance at the St. Paul AME Zion Church’s Martin Luther King Jr. tribute in January, singing “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor.”
“One of my goals was to sing in a variety of styles and do them all justice and to give some kind of performance that would bring joy to the community,” musical director Deborah Tartell said. “I think we accomplished that and I couldn’t be happier at not only today’s concert, but what we accomplished all year, the way we’ve been part of the community.”
So far, the group has sung at St. Paul AME Zion Church in Great Neck, the Nassau County Legislature’s celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday, Temple Israel of Great Neck and at the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation.
“I’m just proud of the group to have reached this level of musicianship in such a short period of time – we started the end of October,” Tartell said.
The group’s initial spark was the North American Jewish Choral Festival in July 2017, which Tartell, Sherry Husney and Anne Hirsh – a trio of founders – attended. The theme of that year’s festival was, ironically, starting a Jewish community choir.
Now some members of the Shireinu Choir intend to attend this year’s choral festival, Tartell said, but they won’t formally meet again until September.
“We don’t meet in the summer and we will be holding auditions Sept. 6 and our first rehearsal will be Sept. 13,” Tartell said. “Over the summer I will be researching and putting together another – what I think will be – great program.”
When asked about the lack of a “vacation,” Tartell laughed.
“It’s a joy for me,” Tartell said of her work with the Shireinu Choir. “Being the conductor of this is a great joy for me.”
For more information or anyone interested in joining Shireinu Choir of Long Island, email [email protected] or call (516) 551-6228.