Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eli Gerstner and Aidelkeit


"When asked what qualities he looks for when he auditions choir members, Gerstner said: “Good voice, stage presence and the most important factor – aidelkeit.”

“A child who performs must be a Baal Midos. It won’t work any other way. People don’t want to see a boy with an ego. The ego comes through in the voice.”

So a good voice is not all?

“Exactly. We turn down so many kids who try out for YBC who have amazing voices but lack in Aidelkeit. Take Avrohom Fried, for example, he has an amazing stage presence without the ego. And look where he is…”"

I am an early Gerstner fan who jumped off the boat when he started his child choir career path. Until then I bought every single CD he produced, the good ones and the weaker ones. Overall, I liked his music and contribution to Jewish Music. With that said, I was a little confused by the interview above. He signaled the importance of Aidelkeit for the audiences when speaking about boys choir but brought an example from Avraham Fried's way of being.

But if Eli subscribes to the importance of Aidelkeit as seen in Avraham Fried, why doesn't the same standard applies to adult performers (Chevra is not exactly in the Aidelkeit field)? Should they all be "aidel" as well or the argument only goes as far as child choirs are concerned?

Well I believe ego is most often good for music. It's hard to define what kind of ego Eli is talking about, but in adult soloists, I like when they have personality as it adds flavor to their compositions and public performances. Take Lipa, Dedi, Yishai Lapidot, Adi Ran - all them have positive "egos" which make them extremely entertaining. After all, that's what singers are - entertainers. Avraham Fried is also an entertainer but with a whole different, most subdued, no-ego, style. And that's also appealing to many.

Now take child soloist. Eli says he will refuse the very best soloist just because he has ego; or if I understand him correctly, just because he has a strong personality. Why? Because there's a code which was created in the Children's Choir world - they should look all the same, sing all the same and smile at all times. And be aidel.

Doesn't that sound funny to you? Boys Choir are not entertaining; the are just cute (to some). That explains why Eli refuses egos - they stand out from the cute standard. Even if they have the best voice ever.

That goes out to prove that when it comes to Boys Choir, music comes in second place. First is about fitting in the stereotype. With this kind of backstage, it's no surprise that no good music comes from there. It's an institutionally flawed system. Kids are not meant to entertainers. Adults are. Lipas are. Dedis are. Children are not; they are just cute.


Yehuda said...

You don't really fall for these interviews, do you? As if Gerstner ever turned down fantastic voices. Yeah right.

Unless I'm the idiot that fell for your excuse to write about boys choirs...

YK said...


I hate "popcorn" interviews. It wasn't an excuse to bash Boys Choir, I just really didn't get it.