With a reported one million plus views on YouTube, the New York a cappella group Six13 comes to Cincinnati on Oct. 21 to perform in a free concert at Adath Israel Congregation at 1 p.m. One of the million who saw Six13 on YouTube was Andrea Levenson, the sponsor of the second Michael M. Levenson Music Program in memory of her husband. She brought the idea to Mitch Cohen, the music program vhair for Adath Israel. “Andi asked me if I had seen Six13 on YouTube. She thought they were amazing, and I agree,” Cohen said. “They are one of the first contemporary Jewish a cappella groups to make an impact. The seder table scene in their video P-A-S-S-O-V-E-R was great and reminded me of actual people I know. I was struck by the quality of their voices. I would say they have the most vocal talent of any a cappella group I have heard.”
The group’s name, “Six13” is a Jewish play on words. The six comes from the fact there are six members in their vocal group, and the rabbis say there are 613 commandments in the Torah.
Michael Boxer, one of the singers and the director of Six13, stated in an interview to The Jewish Week that Six13 was part of the early Jewish a cappella music scene at colleges. Six13 was formed by six students at Binghamton University in upstate New York in 2004. “I’m surprised it took as long as it did to get to the Jewish world. As it grew in the colleges in general, Jewish college groups began to appear. There were plenty of professional groups out there by then, but until Beat’achon and our group tried to cross it over into the Jewish arena there really wasn’t much going on,” Boxer said. Since then, college Jewish a cappella groups have grown in popularity. One of the homegrown college groups, the Ohio State University Meshuganotes, will also appear in the free concert as the opening act for Six13.
“We had brought in Michigan’s Jewish a cappella group a few years ago for a concert, so we thought it was only fair to bring in Ohio State’s group,” smiled Cohen. “I think it’s extremely exciting we will be able to showcase the young, local talent of Ohio State as well as being able to showcase an established New York professional group like Six13.”
Six13 has recorded four award-winning albums with songs played all over Jewish radio. The group has over 20,000 CDs in circulation, and are among the top Jewish music artists on iTunes.
The concert on Oct. 21 is free and open to the community and will be followed by a complimentary reception sponsored by the Sol and Lena Wise Fund. “We set the concert a little earlier at 1 p.m. to allow time for people to go to other community events happening later in the afternoon. We want as many people in the community to be able to experience this opportunity,” commented Cohen. Adath Israel requests RSVPs through their website or through their synagogue office. Childcare is available with reservation. Six13 will also be featured in a special Friday Night Live service on Oct. 19 starting at 5:30 p.m. as well as a concert for the religious school children Sunday morning on Oct. 21.