Stars join Jewish-Arab youth chorus for video from a distance
Bringing it home

Stars join Jewish-Arab youth chorus for video from a distance

David Broza, Achinoam Nini, Mira Awad, ‘Hamilton’ stars and other musical celebs join in for unique digital arrangement

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Jerusalem Youth Chorus director Micah Hendler put his weeks of coronavirus home closure to good use, producing “Home” along with some special friends, including David Broza, Achinoam Nini, Mira Awad, two “Hamilton” singers and other musical celebrities.

“This video really tells a story,” said Hendler, who founded the Jewish-Arab youth chorus. “The process of making this was way more interactive and collaborative than, here’s a choral arrangement, let’s sing it together.”

Hendler asked local artists plus Ari Afsar, who played Eliza in “Hamilton” on Broadway, and Joanna Jones, who played Eliza and Peggy in “Hamilton,” to sing and play whatever part of the song they wanted, and then rearranged the song, written by Drew Pearson and Greg Holden, and originally performed by Phillip Phillips.

There are 100 people in total singing and playing instruments in the piece, including all the members of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. Normally, they would be rehearsing and planning their annual tour in the US.

A screenshot of Micah Hendler (center), conducting 100 singers and musicians in his rearrangement of ‘Home,’ created during the coronavirus (Courtesy The Jerusalem Youth Chorus)

The choral and dialogue program was founded in 2012 by Hendler, a Bethesda, Maryland, native who attended Seeds of Peace summer camps in Maine with Israeli and Arab youths, studied Arabic and Hebrew, and majored in music and international relations at Yale. He came to Jerusalem to see what he could contribute, and has had some well-known graduates, including Israel’s 2020 pick for Eurovision, Eden Alene.

“I was just, like, sing whatever you want,” said Hendler. “That was thrilling to figure out in real time, to see what are the resonances between different types of music.”

It took Hendler six weeks to arrange the piece, which included learning how to create the video.

“It wouldn’t have happened in any other time,” he said. “It really gives a glimpse into everyone’s lives right now.”

As part of the arrangement, Hendler included a behind-the-scenes video, with extra clips of the participating musicians and singers.

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