Young Sheldon

Throughout my career almost every concert I performed was professionally recorded, live-on stage. We kept the large reels of tape-recorded concerts in cardboard boxes at home on closet floors and shelves. Fortunately the boxes and precious contents faired well when hauled on and off movers' vans, and every move to a new city created more concert opportunities. By the time we moved to San Diego in 1979 I had a collection of my recorded concerts spanning a twenty-seven-year period of performances throughout the United States and parts of Canada. I added another twenty years of recordings in San Diego.

As I approached retirement from full service to my congregation I talked about my long-held divine desire to make a compact disc of the highlights of my career as cantor and concert artist; a musical legacy for my children, family and friends.

When I retired in 1991 my wonderful Congregation Beth Israel produced a two- day celebration entitled Standing Ovation. Almost a year ago with encouragement from my wife, Marcie, and our children, I took the first step toward fulfilling my divine desire; I released reels and reels of tape recordings from their boxes, set up our old tape recorder and prepared myself to face the past. Marcie and I listened to the recordings, selecting songs from tapes that had survived years of storage, and fortunately none of their originally fine qualities had been compromised. Though the recordings were made in different places, e.g., concert halls, college auditoriums, synagogues and churches, the acoustics were fairly similar, except for the song, Adon Olam. Despite its acoustical difference due to a technical problem, it is, in our opinion such a charming musical setting, we broke our own rule and included it.

From the beginning of this project we asked ourselves basic questions: Had the original fidelity been preserved? Could those long-stored recordings still capture the excitement of a live concert? Had my voice changed noticeably over the years? We were delighted that the recordings had survived well, but of course, you will be the judge.

After countless hours of listening for good or unwanted sounds, we selected the songs to present the eclectic assortment we intended. The next step was fascinating; working with the recording engineer and watching him operate his hi-tech equipment. He transferred our selections from the reels of tape to a "master" digital compact disc. He eliminated some aging tape sounds and at our request, deleted a few bars of instrumental music. Except for the last piece, he removed as much applause as technically possible. It took several sessions in the studio to digitize the analog tapes but when the last session ended, the master compact disc of Standing Ovation was ready for production.

Creating the master was the beginning of our project. The next steps were detailed, longer and challenging: providing English translations of the Hebrew and Italian Songs, writing commentary and background notes. We saved the following comment for this spot regarding songs # 1 and # 3: on some occasions I substituted the word, Adoshem, for Adonai (God) in deference to those Jews who only recite the name of God (Adonai) in prayer.

Sheldon & Marcie Merel

Marcie is the producer, writer and editor of this entire project. She is a trained pianist and was my accompanist when we presented concerts of Jewish music throughout the mid-west. She knows my entire musical repertoire, has heard every concert, and has lived (and suffered) with all the pressures I faced as a singer: preparing music, spending hours rehearsing, worrying about my physical and vocal health, and the normal pre-concert "nerves." She has a marvelous "ear" and the best perspective for this project. I am grateful to her for the many months she spent helping to make my divine desire a reality.

As you listen to Standing Ovation imagine sitting in your favorite concert hall, Front Row Center and let my songs fill your heart.

Due to the overwhelming feedback from listeners, we decided to elease a second CD which continues to highlight of Sheldon's amazing career as cantor and concert artist. All the selections were recorded live either in-concert pr during services. The CD includes liturgical favorites from the Sabbath, Holy Days, vocal styles of Eastern European virtuoso cantors and contemporary Jewish composers.

We hope that you will enjoy listening to Chants of a Lifetime from Synagogue to Opera as much as we did creating it.

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