John Lennon was here: Choir records new CD in famous studio in Hollywood


BP Photo by Ami Kozak

PROFESSIONAL: The Choirhawks recorded at the Boulevard Recording Studio Aug 17, standing in the shoes of Ringo Starr, Carly Simon and Pink Floyd.

In a Hollywood studio that has hosted a multitude of celebrity musicians, the Choirhawks recently recorded several of their songs from the 2015-16 school year for a new CD that will go on sale after the chagim.

The 30-voice a capella group recorded twice, once at music producer Ami Kozak’s home studio on June 6, and a second time at the legendary Boulevard Recording Studio in Hollywood on Aug. 17, where John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Pink Floyd also recorded.

Songs the group recorded include “All of Me,” “Chandelier,” “I Hope You Dance” and “I See Fire,” along with Jewish songs such as “Melech Malchei” and “Al Hanissim.”

Choir president Eli Greenberg said the CD had been planned the group’s first-ever Bay Area performance tour last December.

“It was a pretty collective thing,” Eli said. On their tour, he said, audiences asked them, “‘Do you have a YouTube channel? Do you have an album? A CD?’ I think from that we had the idea to just make a CD.”

The Choirhawks first recorded in Mr. Kozak’s garage studio for approximately two hours, but ended up re-recording most songs due to his studio not being built for an optimal quality recording of a group the choir’s size.

Mr. Kozak, who is a member of the band Distant Cousins, then arranged for the group to have a second session at Boulevard Recording Studio, which is approximately three times larger than what Mr. Kozak has at home.

“I decided to go with a better room to accommodate the size of the choir,” Mr. Kozak said in an interview. “The choir was pretty prepared and everything was pretty smooth…Made my job pretty easy.”

According to its website, others who recorded at the Boulevard include Fleetwood Mac and Carly Simon. Pink Floyd also recorded its album The Wall there, and Simon her song called “Mockingbird.”

Ringo Starr recorded “Goodnight Vienna” at the Boulevard Studio, which is located on Hollywood Boulevard near the Pantages Theater and right next door to the Museum of Death.

Because of the mid-summer date, only about half the Choirhawks were present for the second recording session. Alumni present from the class of 2016 included Shirel Benji, Ariella Cohen and Daniel Shoham. Alumnus Jake Benyowitz went to the Mr. Kozak’s house on a separate day and recorded beatboxing over the Aug. 17 tracks.

Jake, who is currently learning at Yeshivat Lev Hatorah in Beit Shemesh, said that the choir has improved 100 percent since his freshman year, and that a CD is another step in the right direction.

“It’s a way to get our name out even more throughout the community and throughout the country,” said the four-year choir member in an interview. “It was a very famous studio, they had three engineers so I’m sure it’s going to sound very good.”

While many choir members were unaware that they were using the same equipment as their idols had, those who knew were impressed.

“That was really cool, I actually looked it up beforehand,” said junior Daniel Lorell, then listing the celebrities who had recorded there. Daniel sings bass on the CD. “It felt really professional, and the staff were really nice,” he said.

Choir director Mrs. Joelle Keene was glad to have a recording of last year’s group.

“I decide to make an album when I feel that we are having a particularly good year, and last year was amazing,” Mrs. Keene said. “It was just a really memorable year, with amazing soloists and a great repertoire.”

The CD debuted at Back-to-School Night when it was played over the sound system in the gym. It is currently available for pre-order for $13 by contacting Eli Greenberg or choir vice president Liora Rabizadeh on Schoology.

Senior Michelle Greenberg heard it at Back-to-School Night.

“I thought it was really cool that the choir from a small Modern Orthodox school would be able to go to a recording studio and produce a CD,” she said. “It makes them seem legit.”

Mrs. Keene said the songs would also be publicized in the Bay area, where the Choirhawks did their first-ever performance tour for Chanukah last fall.  Stops included Oakland Hebrew Day School, Congregation Kol Ami in Palo Alto, and Jewish Community High School of the Bay in downtown San Francisco.

“Really everyone was asking us for recordings up there, so hopefully they can get these in time for Chanukah 2016,” she said.

While the making of a new CD will draw attention to the choir from the larger community, it also bonded the choir as a group.    

“I thought that it really brought our choir together,” said sophomore and alto Bailey Mendelson. “it enhanced our experience in choir… and it made us want to continue throughout our high school years.”

Staff writer Maya Tochner also contributed to this story.