On February 27, something very out of the ordinary took place in Tel Aviv.
I’ve been begging Avraham Fried for months to allow me to write about his forthcoming album. “Not yet,” Fried keeps saying. He has to get it as close to perfection as possible, he insists; it has to be just right before he can share it. Fair enough.
Little did I realize that I would have the unique opportunity to catch up with him on a chilly Sunday evening at a concert in the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Heichal HaTarbut, Tel Aviv’s largest concert hall and home of Israel’s Philharmonic Orchestra.
Now, I have seen Avraham Fried perform live nearly a dozen times. But I never saw him like this.
The event was a benefit gala for the Sanz Medical Center – Laniado Hospital in Netanya. Following a series of obligatory speeches and niceties, Avraham Fried hit the stage with a booming voice that literally shook the foundation of the venue. Backing Fried was an eight-man band and four-man choir. Arranger and musical director Yuval Stupel was at the helm, ensuring everyone on stage was in sync to provide the most outstanding sound possible.
They did not disappoint. Fried belted out the soul-stirring “Yedid Nefesh,” originally recorded on his 1988 “We Are Ready” album. It sounded so perfect and relevant that night. He shared his beautiful Aleh Kata (Little Leaf), a monster hit for him in Israel and for many other singers who have covered it. He addressed the crowd in Hebrew and sang songs that would be of particular appeal to this audience. He sang “Ba’Esh U’vamayim (Through Fire and Water)” an anthem tune with the cheer “Am Yisrael Chai!” He made his classic “Aderaba” an interactive experience for the audience, and connected with the Israeli crowd with the new “Abba/Tateh.” Fried had the whole place bouncing to “Yerushalayim SheBalev,” featuring a slide show in the background with stunning graphics.
Fried even paid tribute to the late Israeli composer Yoram Taharlev, who passed away in early January, when he sang the Israeli classic tune “She’HaShemesh Ta’avor Alai (When the Sun will Pass Over Me)” featuring the lyrics: “O Keili, O Keili, only a prayer I shall say: May the sun pass over me and take me on my journey!” The crowd ate it up and appreciated the gesture.
But all of that wasn’t the out of the ordinary experience I am talking about. This is:
The theme of the event was “Connecting Worlds.” Fried has made it clear that he feels comfortable collaborating and sharing the stage with Israeli pop singers. One of his recent stunners was the duet “Batzoret” with Israeli pop and rock singer Aviv Gefen.
About an hour into Fried singing a string of hits and familiar favorites, he proceeded to introduce the U.S.-born pop singer Rami Kleinshtein. The two began a duet in Hebrew; with incredible energy and soul, Fried and Kleinshtein merged their voices from different paths of life to truly connect two worlds.
Kleinshtein sang three songs, and then exited the stage to make way for the 40-year reunion of the legendary Israeli rock band T-Slam. They sang their catalog of classic hits, including “Chofshi,” “Radio Chazak,” and “Tnu Li Rock n’ Roll.”
And then it happened again! Everyone thought Avraham Fried had long since left to find dinner or head back to his hotel for a much-deserved rest. Everyone was wrong: T-Slam invited Fried onto the stage for a grand finale duet with the band. The audience was stunned and those who remained until the end of the nearly three-hour concert were rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Chassidic singer Avraham Fried arm-in-arm with an iconic Israeli rock band. Truly connecting worlds for Laniado Hospital.