December 2, 2018
The current six members of Six13, the Jewish male a cappella group originally formed by SUNY Binghamton students, and now based out of New York. (Courtesy Six13)
Sometimes a song comes along — new, or classic like Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" — and it just calls out to the members of a cappella group Six13.
This year, the singers channeled singer Freddie Mercury and Queen with "Six13 — Bohemian Chanukah," their version of the classic rock song that's been revived with the box office hit, "Bohemian Rhapsody," a film celebration of Queen, their music and iconic lead singer Mercury.
"Some songs come out and they scream us, or Hanukkah, it's a slam dunk, gotta do it," said Mordy Weinstein, a member of Six13 and the choir director at the Yeshivah of Flatbush high school. "With the movie 'Bohemian Rhapsody' out, someone said we should just go for the jugular."
Six13 — Bohemian Chanukah (a Queen adaptation)
With nearly one million views combined of the five-minute clip released this week on Facebook and YouTube, these New York City-based acappella singers are feeling pretty good.
"It is so long, it is a beast of a song," said Weinstein. "It ends four times, and then even at the end, you think it's over, but each ending is a musical movement. It's an opera plus a rock song."
The six-minute song was condensed to just under five minutes in the Six13 YouTube version, although their longer version of the full song is available on iTunes and Apple Music.
They will also be performing it as part of several Hanukkah productions around New York, although Weinstein did mention that doing it live required additional rehearsals.
"We had to make sure we were in tip-top shape," he said. "It's not an easy song to sing."
The group imitated Queen's iconic imagery from their 1977 video as an homage to the band, said Weinstein. They updated the imagery somewhat using 2018 technology, he said, and played around with the placement of the faces, putting them in the shape of a Jewish star, menorah, and dreidel, in keeping with the holiday.
They also, of course, changed the words, telling the story of Hanukkah, the Maccabees, and their challenges in battling the ancient Greeks.
The group brought along their own Freddie Mercury, tenor singer Jacob Spadaro, who even shaved off part of his goatee in order to have a Mercury-style mustache.
"He really committed," said Weinstein.
Six13 will premiere the song and their Hanukkah show at AcapaJewza, featuring several acappella groups, on Saturday night, December 1 at the JCC Manhattan, and then will be performing at other synagogues and schools throughout December.
"We will be performing it as much as we can," said Weinstein.