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In This Issue
Jacobson Muses on the Benefits of Choral Singing
Upcoming Concerts
Spring Roundup

Zamir Auditions for 


If you are an experienced singer with a strong choral background, consider joining the Zamir Chorale of Boston! All voice parts welcome. Auditions for the 2011-12 season will be held on   
Sunday, September 25, 
7:00 - 10:00 pm, at 
Hebrew College, 
160 Herrick Road, 
Newton Centre. 

Prospective members will attend Open Rehearsals on Tuesday, September 13 and 20. 
Rehearsals during the year are on Tuesdays from
 7:15 to 10:00 pm. Additional details will be posted on the Zamir website in July.
To schedule an audition, contact 
Zamir Board of Directors Holds Elections for

Bruce Creditor Re-Elected as Chaiman

Bruce Creditor of Sharon, and longtime board member of Zamir, was re-elected to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors at Zamir's Annual Board of Directors meeting on June 13.

Bruce Creditor

Bruce Creditor; 

photo by Mickey Goldin

Jeff Rosenberg, of Newton, was re-elected as Treasurer.  


Two new board members were elected:
Zamir singer, Gilbert Schiffer of Sharon, and Dr. Bruce Donoff of Newton. "We are delighted to have Gilbert and Bruce join our efforts in meeting the challenges of the coming years for the continued growth of Zamir," said Bruce Creditor, Chair. "With Gilbert's contributions as a chorus member for many years, and Bruce's involvement in the community, I know they will be an important addition to Zamir's leadership."


Creditor extended his deep appreciation to former Zamir Chair and long-time alumna, Joyce Bohnen, and board member, Zvi A. Sesling, who stepped down as board members. "Joyce's contributions to Zamir are unsurpassed, while Zvi greatly enhanced the organization's public profile. We are indebted to both of them." 


The following Board members were elected for the 2011-2012 season:

Bruce Creditor, Chair
Jeff Rosenberg, Treasurer
Dan Bauman
Bruce Donoff
Nancy Finn
Peter Finn
Phyllis Hammer
Suzanne Hanser 

Josh Jacobson
Deborah Melkin
Susan Rubin
Larry Sandberg 
Gilbert Schiffer
Robert Snyder
Alan Teperow
Jon Tepper


Send Us Your "Zamilestones"

Zamir's Alumni Association, chaired by Alan Teperow

(1969-73ish), is dedicated to reaching out to alumni, raising funds for the chorus, bringing alums together for music and socializing, and generally keeping the Zamir spark alive for hundreds of former singers. 


In addition to an annual Alumni Lunch, usually held on the same day as Zamir's Open Sing in December, the Association has sponsored Boston-area gatherings, has established a Facebook presence, is developing a website page with a robust alumni directory, and has created a NY/NJ alumni group chaired by

Ruth Birnbaum Pernick

and Sara Ruderman.


Please send your personal and professional updates (simchas, achievements, condolences) to alan@synagoguecouncil.org and stay tuned for the launch of "Zamilestones."

Amir Milstein Reflects on "Middle East Harmonies"

On behalf of the members of Bustan Abraham, I would like to thank the Zamir Chorale of Boston, and especially Josh Jacobson and Barbara Gaffin, for giving us the rare opportunity to perform together and collaborate with Zamir in an inspiring and memorable event on April 10 and 11. Bustan Abraham was a unique collaboration between Israeli Jews and Arabs, who tried to create together a mutual artistic language, inspired by elements from the band members' background. After performing extensively around the world for many years and releasing seven albums, we each decided to go in different musical directions and pursue our individual careers.


When Josh offered me to invite members from Bustan Abraham to perform with Zamir in Boston, I thought that it would be a great musical collaboration, and I was curious to hear the results. The reunion was a dream come true for all of us, as we have not played together since 2002, and the encounter (musical and personal) was moving and brought back many good memories. 


In the few days prior to the concert, we rehearsed at my house in Newton and, needless to say, the atmosphere was ecstatic, as we played our old tunes-remembering the rehearsals, concert tours, and forgotten stories from the good-old days. It was a thrill to perform our material in front of such a warm audience at Sanders Theater.


In a mesmerizing evening of musical fusions from different genres and cultures, we felt uplifted by the music and warm hospitality. A special thanks to Marcia and Alan Leifer and their family for hosting the artists at their beautiful home.


 SUMMER 2011 

Dear Friends of Zamir,  


Just because it's summer, doesn't mean the singing stops! In fact, as Josh Jacobson reflects in this issue, the joy of choral singing lasts all year long, all life long. Catch up on the wonderful overtones still resonating from our April "Middle East Harmonies" concert and other spring performances. And check out our sneak preview of the 2011-12 season.


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 the benefits of choral singing.
Josh Jacobson 12/5/09

Josh Jacobson; photo by Larry Sandberg



It was 49 years ago this summer that I first fell in love with choral singing. Before the summer of 1962, I was a folksinger. I played guitar (like everybody else in the '60s) and sang in harmony with my buddy Josh Kieval. Even got paid to do it. But that summer there was a new music counselor at Camp Yavneh. Stanley Sperber got us teenagers to sing Louis Lewandowski's "Halleluyah." I was hooked. Still am.


According to a recent study by Chorus America, some 32.5 million adults regularly sing in choruses. And if we add children, that makes 42.6 million Americans singing in choruses. There are 270,000 choruses in the U.S., and more than one in five households have at least one singing family member, making choral singing the most popular form of performing arts participation in the country. The study found that choral singers tend to have many positive personal qualities, including discipline, teamwork, and greater civic involvement. Among the findings:


· Choral singers donate 2.5 times more money to philanthropic organizations than the general public.

· The majority of parents surveyed believe multiple skills increased after their child joined a chorus. 

· 71% percent say their child became more self-confident.

· 70% say their child's self-discipline improved. 

· 69% say their child's memory skills improved. 


Choral singing also promotes good health. We know that rehearsing and performing in public can be stressful. Some studies have shown that stress is linked with lowered immune response. But researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that singing in a choir might make you healthier. They found increased levels of disease-fighting proteins in members of the Pacific Chorale after they sang Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. According to the study, levels of Immunoglobulin A, a protein used by the immune system to fight disease, increased 150% during rehearsals and 240% during performance. The boost seemed directly related to the singers' states of mind, which many participants described as euphoric. 


Participating in a chorus also helps us gain a feeling of connectedness. A recent study by sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona provides powerful evidence that even as cellphones, the Internet, and other technology make people virtually connected in cyberspace, Americans are becoming increasingly socially isolated in real life.


Open Sing 2010

Zamir Open Sing 2010; photo by Larry Sandberg

The experience of feeling consciously connected with others has been found to promote physical health and mental health. There is a sense of euphoria that choral singers experience after a particularly inspiring rehearsal or performance. And we don't need to be told by scientists that our Immunoglobulin A is elevated. We feel it viscerally! In the kishkes! Part of that sensation derives from the cooperative effort that is at the heart of the choral endeavor. The late, great conductor Robert Shaw described choral singing as a "community of expression," whose meaning "rests upon a common devotion to the composer's utterance and a mutual respect for the personal dignity of fellow-workers."


Two thousand years ago, the renowned Rabbi Hillel taught,

אם אין אני לי, מי לי; וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני; ואם לא עכשיו, אימתיי

 "If I am not for myself, then who is for me? But if I am out for myself only, then what kind of a person am I?" (Mishnah Avot 1:14). Rabbi Hillel also taught, הוי כתלמידיו של אהרון-

אוהב שלום ורודף שלום- "Learn a lesson from Aaron, a man who not only loved harmony, but actively sought to create harmony" (Avot 1:12). A choir is comprised of those who actively seek to create harmony using their God-given musical instruments.


What's more, singers who come together to re-create

Mystic Chorale

Mystic Chorale; photo by Liz Diamond

a musical composition are provided the satisfaction of living in harmony while dwelling within the temporary walls of an aesthetic construct. Mahler was once asked how he conceived of his music. He responded that each of his symphonies was a "world." Indeed, while performing we become aware that we are entering another world, another dimension, we are entering the invention of a great musical mind, within whose realm everything has shapeliness, beautiful form, proper resolution, and intense feeling, within whose realm we work together with our fellow re-creators in logic, in empathy, in harmony. 


How different that realm is from the unresolved dissonance and frustrating apathy of the so-called "real world." That's why each week millions of Americans devote hours of their precious lives each week to rehearsals and concerts. That's the extraordinary appeal of the choir, and its unique community of harmony. 


Garrison Keillor said: "To sing like this, in the company of other souls, ... and to make those chords so rich that they bring tears to your eyes. This is transcendence. This is the power that choral singing has, that other music can only dream of." 


For more information on these and other related studies about the benefits of choral singing, go to: 








Cantors' Conference Welcomes Zamir

On Tuesday, June 28, 8:00 pm, Temple Beth Elohim, 10 Bethel Road, Wellesley, Zamir will perform at "Best of Boston: A Concert of Jewish Music," part of the annual American Conference of Cantors and Guild of Temple Musicians. Musicians from the ACC and GTM will join Zamir in a tribute to Boston composers. Tickets are $75 for patron reserved seating; $18 for general admission; $25 at the door.  To purchase advance tickets, go to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/168659  or call 1-800-838-3006.


Heading West for NAJCF 

On Sunday, July 10, 9:00 pm, Zamir will once again help kick off the opening-night festivities of the 22nd Annual North American Jewish Choral Festival at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa in Kerhonkson, NY. This year, Zamir will feature selections from the Middle East Harmonies repertoire. For more information, go to www.zamirfdn.org.


Sixth Annual Open Sing, Sunday, December 4,4:00 pm, Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill. This year, the Open Sing will be held in conjunction with LimmudBoston, an annual celebration of Jewish learning. Singers from throughout the Greater Boston area are invited to join Zamir in singing excerpts from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus, plus synagogue choral classics. For more information about the festival, visit www.limmudboston.org.


Hanukkah Happens XXII, Thursday, December 22, 7:30 pm, at Temple Emanuel in Newton, featuring a program of Sephardic music.  


Spring Concert, Sunday, June 3, 2012, 7:30 pm, at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge.


Stay tuned for much more in our Fall issue!


Harmony and Understanding at Sanders Theatre


If you closed your eyes, you could swear you were in a

Josh Jacobson

Artistic Director 

Joshua Jacobson; 

photo by Mickey Goldin

synagogue or a mosque or maybe an exotic coffeehouse, perhaps in a different century. The strains of Jewish and Arabic music-haunting, rhythmic, and rousing-swirled through the spacious arena at Sanders Theatre Sunday afternoon April 10 for "Middle East Harmonies: A Musical Dialogue Between Arab and Israeli Cultures,"

a collaboration of the Zamir Chorale and Northeastern University. 


The program started with a stirring performance by four original members of the group Bustan Abraham, an ensemble of Arab and Jewish Israeli musicians who pioneered a unique form of instrumental music. Flutist Amir Milstein, percussionist Zohar Fresco, oud and violin artist Taiseer Elias, and bassist Emmanuel Mann were reunited for the first time in many years. The excitement of the moment showed in their faces, their music, and the audience's enthusiastic response.

Zamir at Middle East Harmonies

Zamir performs at Middle East Harmonies; 

photo by Mickey Goldin



After intermission, Zamir performed a set featuring

Turkish-born composer and musician Mehmet Ali Sanlikol. "Adinu Bi-idin Il Hubbi" began with a Sufi hymn; then Sanlikol sang a Moslem chant ("Kudus") while Zamirniks Louise Treitman, Kate Judd, and Rick Lawrence simultaneously chanted the same text in Hebrew ("Kadosh"). As the chorus stood in a circle, performers and audience members alike said they felt elevated to a high spiritual plane. 


"Mehmet is an incredible musician. He brought an authenticity to the vocal solos, negotiating the complex Middle Eastern modes and adding appropriate ornamentations in his improvisation," said Jacobson. Other highlights included "Aval Ahavah," with longtime Zamirniks and husband-wife duo Larry and Jill Sandberg; then, in a joint set with Bustan

Zohar Fresco

Zohar Fresco; photo by Mickey Goldin

Zamir sang "Lama Bada Yatathana," an Andalusian tune arranged by Bustan, featuring Mireille Tannous and Zamirniks Alison Fields and Rick Lawrence; and "There Must Be Another Way," with guest vocalist Tannous and Zamir alto Hinda Eisen.


Instrumentalists for the concert included pianists Edwin Swanborn and Sarah Boling, clarinetist Bruce Creditor, percussionist Takaaki Masuko, and guitarist Henry Shapiro.


"Working with Bustan was amazing," said Jacobson. "Each is a virtuoso in his own right on his own instrument. But also inspiring was watching the subtle and joyous interaction among the four as they performed and played off one another."


Bustan Abraham Former Members

Former Members of Bustan Abraham (left to right): 

Zohar Fresco, Taiseer Elias, Emmanuel Mann, 

Amir Milstein; 

photo by Mickey Goldin

For the grand finale, the Boston City Singers, an inner-city youth chorus under the direction of Jane Money,

joined the ensemble for "Zaman Salaam," written in Hebrew, Arabic, and English for the 1994 Oslo ceremony where Shimon Peres and Yasir Arafat received the Nobel Peace 

Prize.  When the audience joined in on the refrain, we had a glimpse of that for which we still pray. Boston City Singers also performed the encore with Zamir, "Tini Mini Hanem."


Larry and Jill Sandberg

Larry and Jill Sandberg; photo by Mickey Goldin

The Symposium: The next evening, April 11, the festivities continued at the Middle East Harmonies Symposium at Northeastern University, including featured speaker Prof. Benjamin Brinner, ethnomusicologist; and panel members Prof. Jacobson; Mr. Sanlikol, Bustan musicians Milstein, Fresco, and Elias; Shakir Mustafa, Professor of Arabic Languages and Literature; Lori Lefkovitz, Professor of Jewish Studies; and André De Quadros, Professor of Music at Boston University. 


"We are grateful to those who enthusiastically endorsed our project, including leaders of the Jewish community, the Consulate General of Israel to New England, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and Northeastern's Department of Jewish Studies," said Jacobson.


Other cooperating groups included:

  • American Jewish Committee
  • Argentinian Jewish Relief Committee
  • Harvard Hillel
  • Hebrew College
  • Independent Jewish Community
  • Islamic Center of Boston - Wayland
  • Lesley University Department of National and International Collaborative Programs 
  • New Center for Arts and Culture
  • Temple Beth Zion 
  • Tufts University Hillel 
  • The Weston\Wayland Interfaith Action Group (WWIAG)

For a full roundup of both events and videos of the concert and symposium, visit www.chorus.neu.edu/meh.


Middle East Appetizer


On March 30, the Zamir chamber chorus entertained at a delightful donor appreciation event at Leonard Fein's "Library Loft"--a prelude to the April 10 concert. Many thanks to all in attendance for your generous support. 


Waves of Empowerment in Rockport


Zamir Chamber Chorus at Waves of Empowerment

Zamir Chamber Chorus at Waves of Empowerment, conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya;  photo by Terry Bergdoll

On May 1, Zamir's outgoing Assistant Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya led members of Zamir's chamber chorus in a performance at the spectacular oceanside Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, Massachusetts. 


The program, "Waves of Empowerment," commemorated the life and legacy of Sam Hanser, son of Berklee College of Music professor and Zamir board members Suzanne Hanser and Alan ("Tep") Teperow. The event also featured jazz, popular, world, and classical music, including performances by Donna McElroy; Felice Pomeranz; Jack and Rebecca Perricone; Arnold Friedman; Jeannie Gagne; Zina Schiff; and Women of the World. Watch this video production, produced by Larry Sandberg, of Zamir Chorale of Boston Chamber Chorus performing "Halleluyah."


Walking in Rhythm


Walk for Music Zamir Walkers May 2011On Sunday, May 22, a robust crew of Zamirniks and their friends and families joined the annual Walk for Music in Boston's Back Bay Fens. This fundraiser supports all types of music programs in Greater Boston, with 100% of the proceeds going straight to these programs (in other words, Zamir receives every penny raised by our walkers). Please remember to send in your donations. We're grateful for your support to "keep music alive in our community!" Donate now.




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

Barbara Gaffin              

Managing Director 


Deborah Sosin
Editor, E-Notes