Thursday, August 13, 2020

Carmel Academy seventh graders Talia Orbach and Brian Jablowsky, members of the the school’s Angels & Prophets band, warm up during a recent practice.

Members of Carmel Academy’s Middle School band, Angels & Prophets, pose during one of their practices.

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If people haven’t yet heard of Angels & Prophets, they may be downloading one of the band’s songs in the near future.

What began as a musical outlet for a group of Carmel Academy’s students has turned into perhaps one of the first-ever middle school Jewish rock bands. Angels & Prophets, which performs weekly at Carmel and entertains guests at the school’s largest events, played their first live venue in December and is gearing up to record several original tracks at a recording studio.

“I feel proud of all of us. When we first started this last year many of us couldn’t do what we do now. In the time we have been together we have learned so much,” said drummer Adam Israel.

The band, comprised of 12 middle school students, has truly bonded over their shared purpose. “Music is our cornerstone, and spreading joy and ruach (spirit) is our mission,” said Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, Carmel Academy’s madrich ruchani (spiritual leader), who created the band with the students.

“As the school’s spiritual leader one of my roles is finding ways to create meaning and access to spirituality for our student community in a multitude of ways,” Rothstein said. “As a musician I recognize the power of song and music.”

“The name Angels & Prophets is drawn from biblical references,” Rothstein said. “Angels comes from the Talmud, which mentions in several places that Angels sing songs to God daily. Prophets is drawn from the Tanach (scripture), which says that when musicians would play, the prophets would be able to “see.”

Band member Lily Fanwick said she witnesses the band’s mission come alive every Friday morning when Angels & Prophets leads a morning gathering for the lower school that ushers in Shabbat with community song. “We lead the song, ‘When I Rise’ and when the lower school students join in, their young voices are very beautiful.”

The members of Angels and Prophets, who play a mix of cover and original Jewish rock songs, practice during their lunch period weekly, and more often when they have an upcoming performance.

The musical selections are voted on by the entire band.

“We really want the audience to feel engaged and to get into the music,” said guitarist Talia Orbach.

And it’s that engagement with the audience that has given the band confidence to spread its wings beyond Carmel’s walls. The group played at the Community Chanukah Concert in Stamford, opening up for the group Shlock Rock.

“Before you get on stage your heart is pounding, but once you start getting into the music and the beat, it is so much fun,” said keyboardist Brian Jablowsky.

Their next goal is to record a demo track of original music co-written by Rothstein and the students.

“They really feel that they are able to bring the same joy and spirit they are bringing to Carmel to the greater community,” Rothstein said.

In order to book studio time, the band will be launching a fundraiser. No matter what the future holds for Carmel’s Angels & Prophets, the band’s members say their experience playing music with each other has been an important part of their middle school years.

“It really feels like we are a family,” said Talia. “We all have different skill levels and we are all different, but we can all connect through music.”

Being on the ground-floor of creating a band is a legacy the group hopes to leave the school after they’ve graduated.

“This has been a great way express myself and I think it would be cool if in 20 years there is still an Angels & Prophets at Carmel; and I hope when they play they can say, ‘Wow, we sounded just like the original,’” said bass player Gabi Stern.

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