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YU Chanukah Concert Overwhelming Success

On the evening of December 13th, the sixth night of Chanukah, the Wilf Campus was bursting with excitement for Yeshiva University’s annual Chanukah concert. Students, alumni, families, and hoards of teenage girls from across the tri-state area flocked to Lamport Auditorium to welcome this year’s headline performers, Edon and Shalsheles. Unlike some of the previous years’ concerts, 2012’s event was completely sold out, and the packed-house atmosphere was palpable throughout the show. Following Neshoma Orchestra’s instrumental introduction, the crowd erupted in applause as the Y-Studs took the stage and pleasantly surprised attendees with their refined arrangements and heartfelt melodies. If there was any doubt about it, their Chanukah Concert performance proved that the Y-Studs have matured into a professional-sounding college a capella group. Some new faces and all-star soloists have finally pushed the Y-Studs over the threshold to make them a serious, exciting and pleasant sounding group of performers.

The stage went dark after the Y-Stud’s second song, and chants of “Eee-don! Eee-don! Eeee-don!” reverberated throughout the hall. People were wildly anticipating the former AGT wonder-kid’s performance, and when a spotlight dramatically descended on Edon sitting beside his keyboard, you could hear nothing but shrieks. Edon’s performance was strong throughout the show, nearly flawless.  Before the show, cynics were concerned Edon would not perform as well as he did on NBC’s hit TV show, America’s Got Talent, or that a deepened voice would impede his ability to sing and sound good. They were entirely wrong. What immerged instead from the evening was a more mature-sounding Edon, whose young adult voice increased in character and supremacy from this past summer’s “kiddy Edon”. He first rocked through David Guetta featuring Sia’s pop hit Titanium, then introduced Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s When You Believe, connecting the song’s lyrics to the message of Chanukah and the recent war in Israel. Before passing the stage off to Shalsheles, Edon belted out a fantastic rendition of Yosef Karduner’s Shir Lama’alot. Everyone wanted more Edon, but Shalsheles evoked a surprisingly exciting response upon entrance.

Shalsheles’ performance was also outstanding. For their first set, Shalsheles sang a medley comprising of songs from both their earlier albums and their more recent Shalsheles IV and V. They began with their slow songs, but as the pace picked up crowds on both the men’s only and women’s only sides got up to dance, sing and sway. Complimented by an astonishing light display, Shalsheles’ songs were wrought with sincerity and an ounce of nostalgia. Shalsheles then invited Edon back on stage to join them in singing Heyma (which Edon soloed for in last year’s Shalsheles Junior 2 album) and the famous Esah Einay. It was magical. Shalsheles then bid Edon farewell to grant him the stage once again. Edon asked permission from the crowd to “pick up the pace” as he dazzled attendees with David Guetta and Usher’s Without You and Matisyahu’s Chanukah themed hit, Miracle.

The concert reached its pinnacle when the Y-Studs came back on stage to sing backup for Shalsheles in Mi Von Siach. The tear-jerking arrangement was outstanding, and provided YU students and alumni with a great deal of nachas that fellow students were on stage performing so well. The concert’s final set was a kumzits style arrangement accompanied by the foremost Jewish guitarists, Ari Boiangiu and Aryeh Kuntsler. Though many attendees thought this was the last they would be seeing of Edon (some even left the venue for this reason), following the YSU President Yosef Hoffman and YCSA President Adam Neuman’s “thank you’s” Edon and Shalsheles joined forces one final time in an encore of Na’ar Hayisi.

Aside from some minor microphone malfunctions during Shalsheles’ performance, it is difficult to find a flaw in the evening’s events. The student councils on both campuses worked in tandem for months to organize, advertise and finalize the concert, and the student body is certainly appreciative of their efforts. The concert provided a fun, kosher and exciting venue for families and students to relish the spirit of Chanukah and glean inspiration from beautiful music performed by some of the most talented performers in the Jewish music scene.