Muslim, Jewish, Christian
YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus Album, Home,
Features Song with Syrian Oud Player, Dedicated to Syrians
Home will be available worldwide on Friday, April 21
View The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus’s video “A Mashup for Change” here
April 7, 2017 – The Jerusalem-based Israeli Palestinian YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus will be releasing their first full length studio album بيت Home בית on April 21, 2017, challenging listeners in Jerusalem and throughout the world to build inclusive communities where every individual can feel like they have a home.
Living amid active conflict and war, the JYC understands firsthand the urgency and significance of their work. One track that particularly resonates given the sad headlines in Syria is “Asfour – Nightingales“, which combines two beautiful songs about freedom through the metaphor of birds and birdsong. The song includes a performance by a guest oud player, Al Farabi, who is Syrian and recorded his part in Damascus in 2016 in one take at a friend’s studio in between bombing raids. In the last line of the chorus of Asfour, a little caged bird who has escaped asks his neighbor for protection in his home. The Chorus dedicates this song to the Syrians in Syria and all over the world who are facing the unimaginable and seeking protection.
Chorus Founder and Director, Micah Hendler, has a personal connection to Damascus, where he learned to speak Arabic and studied under master musician Al Farabi in 2010. He notes, “Al Farabi helped me discover an entire world of music that I had never known. What I learned from him is a critical part of what has enabled the YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus to be accessible to people from multiple musical backgrounds in Jerusalem.”
Hendler adds, “Al Farabi is still in Damascus, and recorded his part in one take at a friend’s studio in between bombing raids. We are moved by his musicianship and humanity, and grateful to him for contributing his artistry to our album.”
The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus is a choral and dialogue program for Israeli and Palestinian youth in Jerusalem. Its mission is to provide a space for young people from East and West Jerusalem to grow together in song and dialogue. Through the co-creation of music and the sharing of stories, the chorus seeks to empower youth in Jerusalem to become leaders in their communities and inspire singers and listeners around the world to work for peace.
The Chorus is an official program of the Jerusalem International YMCA, one of Jerusalem’s leading pluralistic institutions. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their programs promoting and encouraging dialogue, the YMCA provides shared activities in almost every sphere of life for Jerusalemites from all walks of life. The Y is one of the few places in Jerusalem, a city divided along religious, cultural, political and linguistic lines, that people from all backgrounds can and do feel comfortable, and has been so for more than 80 years.
The album بيت Home בית contains the music that brings the Israeli and Palestinian singers of the YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus together. Recorded in-house at the Jerusalem International YMCA and produced professionally by a team including the mixer for Pentatonix, بيت Home בית features the best of their diverse repertoire from their first four years in a studio context that brings out the most expressive solos, driving rhythms, and perfect harmonies in their music. Director and Founder Micah Hendler says the inspiration for this album is directly related to the work of the chorus, where “we create a home for all of our singers and seek to show what Jerusalem could be.” Somewhere in between Global Pop and Arabic Classical, between Hip-Hop and Chant, this album is the first of its kind and seeks to make a place for everyone. It is, most importantly, an empowering tool to inspire communities around the world at this crucial time to seek inclusivity and equality through creative means.
The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus has performed on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and has had feature coverage in publications including the New York Times and the Washington Post. It has toured internationally to Japan, the UK, and the US, and performed in venues as celebrated as the Kennedy Center in Washington. Its music video, “Home,” with YouTube superstar Sam Tsui, has amassed over 400,000 views. Most recently, the chorus founder and director Micah Hendler was selected as one of the Forbes 30 Under 30 for his groundbreaking work with the chorus in the field of musical conflict transformation.
The Chorus kicked off its album launch campaign with a music video called “A Mashup for Change.” A mashup of four pop songs with a message, “Some Nights” by Fun., “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith, “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, and “I’ll be There for You” (the theme song from Friends), it focuses on the power of being there for those who are different. Most importantly, it challenges the listener, inspired by by the words of “Some Nights,” by asking, “What do you stand for?”
There will be a pre-release event in Washington DC on April 20th with honored guest Michael Ratney, US Deputy Assistant Secretary on Israeli-Palestinian Affairs, Special Envoy for Syria and former Consul General in Jerusalem, at Sony Music Offices and the full album will be available worldwide on April 21st. The chorus hopes to return to the US for a tour December 2017.
For more information, please contact: Patrice Fehlen, Beautiful Day Media – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the Chorus here: jerusalemyouthchorus.org