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The Schmooze

Russian Oligarchs Sing Record Longest ‘Hallelujah’

Mikhail Fridman sings Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ in effort to make record books / Russian Jewish Congress

(JTA) — If time really is money, then the song that producer Igor Sandler recorded on Tuesday at his Moscow studio not only will be the longest tune ever released, but may be among the costliest to make.

That’s because the people singing in Sandler’s bid to enter the Guinness Book of World Records database include Russian Jewish billionaires whose time is a pretty expensive commodity.

Still, they convened on Tuesday at the request of the Russian Jewish Congress to record a three-hour-long cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which organizers plan to submit to the editors of the record book under the category: “Longest Officially Released Song.”

Among the vocalists were numerous occupants of the top slots on Forbes’ list of Russian billionaires, including Mikhail Fridman, co-owner of the Alfa Group — the biggest financial and industrial investment group in Russia. Forbes ranked him Russia’s second-richest man last year, when his fortune was estimated at $16.5 billion. Since then, that figure has climbed to $18.5 billion.

Also singing was Boris Mints, the owner of investment company O1 Properties as well as wealthy Jewish businessmen like German Zakharyan; Yuri Kokush and RJC President Yuri Kanner — himself no pauper.

Titled “Musical Marathon 5775,” the project is expected to generate a final product in time for Rosh Hashanah. It will feature the voices of more than 150 Russian Jewish celebrities, such as actress Klara Novikova, composer Alexander Zhurbin, actor Leonid Kanevsky and political scientist Igor Bunin. In total, RJC and Igor Sandler Productions plan to integrate the voices of 5,775 singers in the tune — enough, the organization says, to break the world record for number of vocalists on a single track.

The project “will support Jewish identity, promote Jewish life, Jewish values ​​and traditions. But the Russian Jewish Congress became a partner of the project not only because of its Jewish component,” Kanner said.

The choice of “Hallelujah” over other candidates (“If I Were a Rich Man” maybe?) means the song will have “universal relevance,” Kanner said, and “will help us to bring together representatives of different nationalities and religions.”

The final product will be a song that is more than three hours long, RJC wrote in its press statement published Wednesday — long enough to relieve the German band Phrasenmaher of the title it clinched earlier this year with its song “Zwei Jahre.”

The title of the German song means “two years,” but, thankfully, it goes on for a mere one hour, 30 minutes and 10 seconds.

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