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In This Issue
Jacobson Muses on "There Must Be Another Way"
Middle East Harmonies
Winter Roundup
The Philadelphia Story

by Joshua Jacobson


A few weeks ago, my wife Ronda and I had the pleasure of visiting the new National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. When we were in the room that describes the synagogues of the early German immigrants, I heard music that sounded familiar. It was Louis Lewandowski's "Halleluyoh." But I also thought I recognized the performance. It sounded like Zamir's recording from our album The Majesty of Holiness. I searched in vain for any documentation, so I sent an email to the museum's chief historian, Prof. Jonathan Sarna, who launched an investigation.


Sure enough, it was us! So, if you are in the Philadelphia area, be sure to visit this wonderful new museum. And if you hear some majestic music, you'll know you're listening to Zamir.


To hear a sample of this music on your computer, please click zamir.org/mp3/912-5.mp3. 

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 SPRING 2011 
Dear Friends of Zamir,  


"To everything (turn, turn, turn), there is a season (turn, turn, turn), and a time to every purpose, under Heaven" (adapted from Ecclesiastes 3:1). We have come through a challenging winter and emerged into the promise of spring, as voices from around the world are crying out for peace and freedom. What better time to come together? Please join us for a concert and symposium, Middle East Harmonies, on April 10 and 11, cosponsored by Zamir and Northeastern University. And catch up here on the rest of Zamir's news and upcoming events.

In each issue of E-Notes, Artistic Director Joshua Jacobson offers his unique insights and experiences as a world-renowned scholar, composer, conductor, and influential teacher of Jewish music. Here, Josh "muses" on Middle East Harmonies.   


Two years ago, one of my favorite Israeli singers, Noa and AwadAhinoam Nini (a.k.a. Noa) was representing Israel in the Eurovision song contest. The Israeli chart-topping song was actually a duet with Noa and the Israeli-Arab singer Mira Awad. The song, "There Must Be Another Way," is sung in Hebrew, Arabic, and English; it is a plea for a way out of the dead-end cycle of mutual hate and suspicion. The singers describe it not as a song of peace, but as a simple call to respect the humanity of others.


When I first heard it, I thought, this is something Zamir must do. Musicians do more than entertain. Music has the ability to increase empathy and mutual understanding among people who have been separated by borders of various kinds and alienated by conflicting politics. Composer William Parker wrote, "It is the role of the artist to incite political, social, and spiritual revolution, to awaken us from our sleep and never let us forget our obligations as human beings to light the fire of compassion. Sounds that enlighten are infinite. We can put no limit to joy or on our capacity for love." And so, Middle East Harmonies was born.


Bustan AbrahamFor our April 10 concert (2 pm at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge), we've rounded up a star-studded cast and a compelling program. For many years, I've been a fan of the ensemble Bustan Abraham, comprising seven distinguished Israeli musicians, both Jews and Arabs, who  combined their experience as composers, soloists, and heads of musical ensembles to create original instrumental music, bringing together elements of both Eastern and Western traditions. Bustan Abraham's recordings and powerful stage performances have been received with tremendous enthusiasm all over the world. Through the good graces of one of Bustan's founding musicians, my friend flutist Amir Milstein, we will be presenting four of the original members of Bustan in a rare, not-to-be-missed reunion performance.


As I prepared the rest of the program for Middle East Harmonies, I initially had a hard time locating Arab choral music. I sent an email to Zamir founder Stanley Sperber in Israel, and he referred me to André de Quadros, a choral conductor who is regarded as the worldwide expert on this topic. His area code was 617! Here he was all this time in my own backyard! André was very helpful and suggested several wonderful folksong arrangements that he and his colleagues had created. And Israeli conductor Maya Shavit responded to my request and recommended the young composer Akram Haddad, who had composed a haunting setting of Psalm 121 in Arabic.


So, Zamir will present some interesting

Mehmet Ali Sanlikol

Mehmet Ali Sanlikol 

choral complements, including three love songs: "Fog Elna Khel" (from Syria) in Arabic, "La Rosa Enflorece" (from Turkey) in Ladino, and "Aval Ahavah" (from Israel) in Hebrew. We'll sing two settings of Psalm 121: "Arafau Ainaya" by Akram Haddad in Arabic, and "Essa Einai" by Paul Ben-Haim in Hebrew. We will improvise on a Sufi hymn, "Adinu Bi-din Il Hubbi," and include some parallel Jewish chant. And we'll present our version of Noa and Awad's inspiring duet,  

Mireille Tannous

Mireille Tannous

"There Must Be Another Way." Joining us will be Turkish-American musician Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, and Lebanese-American singer Mireille Tannous, percussionist Andreas Brade, and jazz guitarist Henry Shapiro. The musicians from Bustan will join us for our grand finale, including "Zaman Salaam" (Time for Peace), composed by Yair Dalal for the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, when it was awarded to Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yasir Arafat.


The next evening (7:30 pm at the Fenway Center), Northeastern University will continue the dialogue with a symposium featuring our performers and many other speakers, including Prof. Ben Brinner from the University of California at Berkeley, author of the fascinating book Playing Across a Divide. 


This concert is Zamir's attempt to create harmony in the only way we can. Perhaps it will be contagious, perhaps not. But we will do our best to inspire and to provoke. In the words of Rabbi Tarfon, "You are not obligated to complete the task, but neither are you free to ignore it." In the words of the Psalmist, "Seek peace, and pursue it!" And in the words of Noa and Awad, "There Must Be Another Way!"


For tickets to the concert, Sunday, April 10, 2 pm, at Sanders Theatre:



Admission is free to the symposium on Monday, April 11, 7:30 pm, at the Fenway Center, 77 St. Stephen St., Boston. 



Middle East Harmonies:  

A Musical Dialogue Between Arab and Israeli Cultures

Concert and Symposium 


Sunday, April 10, 2:00 pm, Sanders Theatre, Cambridge.

Amir Milstin

Amir Milstein

Kicking off the two-part event sponsored by the Zamir Chorale and Northeastern University, this concert features a meeting of the musical minds of the Middle East, with guest artists representing Jewish and Arabic cultures. Under the direction of Maestro Joshua Jacobson, Zamir will perform choral selections in both Arabic and Hebrew. Special guests include the original members of the famed group Bustan Abraham in reunion: Amir Milstein, Zohar Fresco, Taiseer Elias, and Emmanuel Mann. From 1991 until they disbanded in 2003, these Arab

Zohar Fresco

Zohar Fresco

and Jewish musicians pioneered a unique form of instrumental music, combining elements of East and West.


Also featured are performances by the Boston City Singers, an inner-city youth choir, renowned Turkish musician Mehmet Ali Sanlikol; and Lebanese singer Mireille Tannous.  

For complete profiles on Bustan, click here; for others, click here


On Monday, April 11, 7:30 pm, the Middle East Harmonies Symposium will be held at Northeastern University's Fenway Center, 77 St. Stephen Street, Boston (free admission). A distinguished panel, including esteemed 

Taiseer Elias

Taiseer Elias

ethnomusicologist Benjamin Brinner, will address the use of music to increase empathy and mutual understanding among people who have been separated by borders of various kinds and alienated by conflicting politics. For symposium details, go to www.chorus.neu.edu/meh.


Middle East Harmonies is cosponsored by: Northeastern University Departments of Music and Jewish Studies, Combined Jewish Philanthropies (made possible in part by CJP's Innovative Grants Committee) and the Consulate General of Israel to New England.  


Emmanuel Mann

Emmanuel Mann

Community Partners include: American Jewish Committee, Argentinian Jewish Relief Committee, Brandeis University Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, Harvard Hillel, Hebrew College, the Independent Jewish Community, Islamic Center of Boston -Wayland, Lesley University Department of National and International Collaborative Programs, New Center for Arts and Culture, Northeastern University's Middle East Center for Peace, Culture, and Development, Temple Beth Zion, Tufts University Hillel, and the Wayland/Weston Interfaith Action Group.



For ticket and further information: www.chorus.neu.edu/meh.


Totally Bernstein Times Two


On December 23, Temple Emanuel in Newton was once again packed for Hanukkah Happens XXI: A Tribute to Leonard Bernstein, honoring the composer on the 20th anniversary of his death. The program spanned Bernstein's early liturgical works, including Hashkivenu; show tunes from West Side Story, On the Town, and Candide; and the beloved Chichester Psalms. Cantor Elias Rosemberg was the featured soloist for "A Simple Song" and "It Must Be So," and joined Kate Judd for "Tonight." Other highlights of the delightful evening included Hal Katzman, Devin Lawrence, and Martin Oppenheimer donning sailor outfits in "New York, New York"; the moving solo "Silhouette," with Elise Barber; and the finale, "Make Our Garden Grow," with the entire ensemble.


On March 13, Zamir and the Brookline Chorus, directed by Lisa Graham, presented Totally Bernstein at Sanders Theatre, as part  

of the 2011 Boston Jewish Music Festival. The highlight was a stirring performance of Bernstein's beloved Chichester Psalms.

Zamir with Brookline Chorus
Zamir with the Brookline Chorus; photo by Larry Sandberg

 Mitzvah Making at Hebrew SeniorLife


On February 13, Zamir returned for the annual concert for the residents at Hebrew SeniorLife in Roslindale, a special afternoon of song and sharing. For first-time Zamirniks, singing for the seniors can be an especially moving experience, connecting with the audience. Soprano 

Zamir at HSL 2011

Zamir at Hebrew SeniorLife; photo by Larry Sandberg

Kate Judd shared, "I noticed in particular a little woman in a black shawl, who was sitting right in the front row in a wheelchair, apparently transported. After the concert, I came upon her, waiting for someone to push her up the ramp. 'Are you okay?' I asked. 'Am I okay?' she replied, in a heavy accent. (I was later told she is Greek, and not Jewish.) She looked up at me with tears in her eyes. 'That was the most beautiful music I ever heard,' she said." Alto Alison Fields added: "The concert gave [the residents] an opportunity to feel lively, to reminisce, and to be in a joyous musical space with familiar songs, languages, and perhaps cultural and religious pride that may not always be accessible in their day-to-day lives. It was exciting to experience the music with them." A double mitzvah. There's nothing like it.


As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends near and far.

Barbara Gaffin              

Managing Director 


Deborah Sosin
Editor, E-Notes