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 HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FELIX!
This year marks the 200th
anniversary of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn (1809
Felix Mendelsohn-1847), who was born in Hamburg, Germany. His grandfather, Moses Mendelssohn, was an important rabbi, considered to be the founder of Haskallah, the Jewish enlightenment movement in which  Jews enjoyed European culture in addition to their own heritage. In his eagerness to remove all impediments to his children's success, Felix's father, Abraham Mendelssohn, had his children baptized as Christians in 1816.
 
Felix became a musical prodigy, composing and performing in public even before his teenage years. But he was always regarded as a Jew by his colleagues and was denied appointment as head of the Berlin Singakademie on the basis that an organization dedicated to the singing of church music "could ha
rdly be presided over by a Jew, even a converted one." Composer Carl Friedrich Zelter said about his pupil, "He is, to be sure, a Jewboy but no Jew. It would really be something rare if a Jewboy were to become a true artist." And opera composer Richard Wagner, while acknowledging Mendelssohn's talent, wrote that his music betrayed Jewish traits of "wishy-washiness" and pandering to mere "amusement."
 

Despite the anti-Semitism, Mendelssohn was regarded as one of the great German composers of the early 19th century. Today he is perhaps best known for the popular wedding march from Midsummernight's Dream and numerous orchestral and chamber works. One of his last works was the oratorio Elijah, based on the life of the Hebrew prophet. Zamir will be performing excerpts from Elijah on May 17.
 
                --JJ
 

Quick Links
  Spring 2009
Dear Friend of Zamir,

As Etta James sang, "at last"! We made it through the endless winter and signs of spring are everywhere. Come out of hibernation and join us for an exciting series of concerts, in Boston and on Cape Cod, beginning in May. But first, enjoy some reflections from Artistic Director Joshua Jacobson on Zamir's 40th anniversary season . . . so far. 
Collaboration: It's Not Just About the Economy

In this economy, it is no surprise that many arts organizations are looking for partners with whom to collaborate. It makes sense. You share the expenses and double the size of your audience. This year, Zamir has enjoyed several fruitful collaborations. In October, we co-produced a concert in which we were joined by the touring Jerusalem Academy Chamber Chorus and the Northeastern University Chamber Chorus.Josh teaching In December, we enjoyed a shared program with the young singers at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston. On March 1, we joined forces with the Jazz Tuber Trio for a delightful program highlighting the intersections of Jews and Jazz. One week later, we shared the stage with the Newton Choral Society for a magnificent performance at Sanders Theatre. And on May 17, we will host a joint concert featuring all four choirs in residence at Hebrew College--see below for details.
 
But the benefits of collaboration far exceed mere financial gain. To begin with, choruses are all about collaboration; it's the raison d'Ítre of our enterprise. Zamir's singers come together each week to feel the extraordinary pleasure of 45 voices working together in harmony. A chorus is the very paradigm of cooperative venture. What we do is the opposite of competition and at the same time the opposite of egocentrism. To borrow a concept from author Marilyn Ferguson, I like to think of a chorus as a conspiracy, in the literal sense of the word--an ensemble of people who breathe together. Then how much greater is the pleasure when we reach outside the box and are enriched by exposure to other musicians--fresh ideas from other singers, conductors, and players.
 
But finally, the greatest collaboration is that which takes place between performers and audience--that wonderful communication loop when the music inspires the audience and the audience's evident pleasure reaches back to the performers and inspires them to even greater heights of artistry. So come collaborate with us, conspire with us. I look forward to seeing you at our next concert, and sharing with you the excitement that is Zamir.
 
--Joshua Jacobson

(Pictured: Joshua Jacobson with violinist Sarita Uranovsky)
Photo by Mickey Goldin
UPCOMING CONCERTS
Four Is Enough at Northeastern's Fenway Center

On Sunday, May 17, 7:30 pm, all four vocal groups in residence at Hebrew College will perform at Northeastern University's resonant new concert hall, the Fenway Center. Zamir's solo set will feature the premiere of a new work for women's voices and vibraphone, a stunning setting of Psalm 150 by Cantor Charles Osborne. Zamir commissioned the piece in honor of our beloved soprano, and former Hebrew College employee, Jody Weixelbaum, who passed away last July. Zamir will be joined by Koleinu, directed by Carol Marton; Shir Tsiyon, comprised of HC's cantorial students, led by Cantor Joseph Ness; and Kol Rinah, the Jewish high school choir, under the baton of Zamir tenor Avi Wolf. Don't miss this splendid evening--the best of Boston's Jewish choral music under one roof for the first time! Click here for ticket information or here to connect to Josh Jacobson's blog at Hebrew College.

Donors for Jewish Jazz

Springing off the success of our March jam session with the Jazz Tuber Trio (see "All That Jazz" in the Winter Roundup below), Zamir is planning a special treat for donors who have contribu
Jazz Tuber Trioted $360 or more in the past year. World-renowned artists Eli Newberger, tuba; Jimmy Mazzy, banjo; and Ted Casher, clarinet and sax, will join the Zamir Chamber Choir for a spectacular evening at the fabulous home of Eli and Carolyn Newberger on Monday, May 18. Invitations will be mailed in April.
 

"Ba Mir Bistu Sheyn" on the Beach? 

 
To end the season, Zamir will take our quintessential road show to Cape Cod. Join us on Sunday, May 31, 6:30 pm, at the Cotuit Center for the Arts, 4404 Falmouth Road, Cotuit, Mass. From Yiddish and Russian folksongs to contemporary jazz to classical and liturgical favorites, the program features Zamir's trademark versatility, which combines the finest in Jewish choral music with an entertaining and educational twist. So hit the beach, then relax and enjoy! For ticket information, call 508-207-6322.
 
Young Composer's Work to Be Featured at Soiree

A composition by 16-year-old Jeremiah Klarman will be featured at a Zamir soiree on Tuesday, June 9. "Music has always been important to me because it makes me feel that I can share and deliver my emotions into the music I'm playing or writing," says Klarman, who began composing when he was six. "I am happy that we will have the opportunity of performing one of Jeremiah's pieces. Zamir is committed to an educational mission, and it's a privilege to encourage (young) composers to create music that reflects Jewish experiences in any way," said Josh Jacobson. "His music is impressive and inspiring." The soiree will be held at the home of Marc and Michelle Gary. Stay tuned for details.

Chorus in the Catskills

On Sunday, July 12, 9 pm JST (Jewish Standard Time), Zamir will once again take the stage on opening night of the North American Jewish Choral Festival at the Hudson Valley Resort & Spa in Kerhonkson, N.Y. Come for the evening, or the whole week!
WINTER ROUNDUP
And Gladness of Heart

A stellar collaborative concert teamed the Zamir Chorale with the Newton Choral Society and conductor David Carrier for Two Choruses, One Voice, on March 8 at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge. The combined forces of 120 singers presented twDavid Carriero works for double chorus: Mordecai Seter's Festivals, based on melodies of the Jews of Iraq, and Randall Thompson's dramatic setting of the prophecies of Isaiah, The Peaceable Kingdom. Accompanist Edwin Swanborn and longtime Zamir percussionist Taki Masuko contributed their talents to the event, which also featured Leonard Bernstein's popular Chichester Psalms, featuring boy soprano Colin Sullivan; and Eric Whitacre's romantic Five Hebrew Love Songs, with violinist Sarita Uranovsky. (Pictured: David Carrier)
 
Taking turns at the podium, Jacobson and Carrier had managed in only two joint rehearsals to create a unified sound--and a unified purpose. The collaboration was an unqualified success both musically and socially. In an email to Zamir after the event, Carrier wrote, "The thrill of our groups together was just that. Many conductorsDavid Carrier and Josh Jacobson rarely get to experience the thrill of conducting. They are too busy hoping their singers will get somehow get through the music. Josh and I were the lucky ones to feel that thrill today. Everything was expressive and responsive on all counts. It was as much a pleasure to sit and listen as it was to conduct you. I hope the wonderful memories will linger for a long time and I look forward to seeing you all again."
 
The feeling is very, very mutual. 

(Pictured: David Carrier and Josh Jacobson)
Photo by Mickey Goldin


All That Jazz

On March 1, at Temple Emanuel, Zamir presented Let's Jazz It Up, a swinging concert featuring a chamber choir from Zamir along with the Jazz Tuber Trio. While the audience kept a nervous eye on yet another approaching Nor'easter, the singers performed tunes including "Niga El Ha-chalom," "Oy Mame, Bin Ikh Farlibt," a boppin' "Adon Olam," and Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So." Then Eli Newberger and the band offered a sublime improv set that included "Put It Right Here," followed by a combo set with the choir featuring "Summertime" and a sizzling-hot rendition of Manhattan Transfer's "S.O.S." that succeeded in holding off the snow until the end of the concert.

In an audience sing-along, Ted Casher offered his inimitable interpretation of "Charlie on the MBTA." Will he ever return? Absolutely--plans are already underway for another fun ride on May 18.

Reaching Out

The residents of Hebrew SeniorLife enjoyed Zamir's annual community concert on Sunday, February 8, which included Russian and Yiddish tunes, as well as familiar standards. For the singers, nothing matches the heart-filling experience when the residents sing, clap, and, sometimes, dance along with the music--and when we joined together for "Hatikvah" to end the warm winter afternoon's festivities.

The Glories of St. Petersburg Light Up Hanukkah Happens

You could almost smell the tea steeping in the samovar on December 24 at Temple Emanuel's Hanukkah Happens XIX. The program, called Glories of the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Music, 1908-2008,
marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Society, the first organizatSt. Petersburgion ever devoted to the creation and performance of Jewish concert music. The program included Engel's "Alas by the Shore of the Jordan River," Saminsky's "Song of Songs," and an excerpt from Joshua by (non-Jewish composer) Mussorgsky. The concert also featured Hazzan Elias Rosemberg's stirring rendition of Milner's "In Kheder." Rabbi Daniel Lehmann joined Rosemberg for Zeitin's "Zog Zhe Rebenyu." Violinist Zina Schiff, with pianist Bill Merrill, mesmerized the packed house with exquisite renditions of duets by Achron and Zimbalist. Zamir capped the night with a Hanukkah candlelighting ceremony and sing-along.
 
KEEP IN TOUCH!
As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends near and far. If you would like to bring Zamir to perform a concert in your community, or to learn more about upcoming events, please contact us.
 
Barbara Gaffin
Managing Director 
 
Deborah Sosin
Editor, E-Notes