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 Middle East Harmonies

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Oppenheimer Newest Zamir Board Member 
Over the summer, Zamir's Board of Directors elected another new member to the board, Martin Oppenheimer.


A member of the Zamir Chorale of Boston for eight years, and the Zamir Chorale of New York for three years in the 1980s, Marty is Senior Counsel for Business Affairs at Tufts University.


The following are Zamir Chorale of Boston board members for the 2011-2012 season: 

Bruce Creditor, Chair

Josh Jacobson, President
Jeff Rosenberg,
Dan Bauman
Bruce Donoff*
Peter Finn
Phyllis Hammer
Suzanne Hanser 
Deborah Melkin,
ex officio
Martin Oppenheimer*
Susan Rubin,
ex officio
Larry Sandberg 
Gilbert Schiffer*
Robert Snyder
Alan Teperow

Jon Tepper

*New board member 2011-2012 


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. 


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."

 FALL 2011 

Dear Friends of Zamir,

As we launch our 43rd season, we are thrilled to announce our upcoming concert tour to Berlin to participate in the Louis Lewandowski Festival in December. Read all about it here, and enjoy Artistic Director Josh Jacobson's "Musings" on Lewandowski's contribution to Jewish synagogue music. Lewandowski chose the following phrase for his tombstone: "Liebe macht das Lied unsterblich!" or "Love makes the melody immortal!" We couldn't agree more. May this new year be one of peace and harmony for you and your families. 

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 shares his reflections on Zamir's upcoming tour to Berlin.
Josh Jacobson 12/5/09

Josh Jacobson; photo by Larry Sandberg


Back in the short, freezing days of January, I received an intriguing email from Nils Busch-Petersen in Berlin. He was beginning to organize a festival in Berlin to take place in December 2011, honoring the late synagogue choral conductor and composer Louis Lewandowski (1821-1894). Would I be interested in bringing the Zamir Chorale of Boston to this festival? Would I? No arm twisting was required. I've always been a fan of Lewandowski's music. In fact, the first Jewish choral music that I fell in love with almost fifty years ago was Lewandowski's majestic setting of Psalm 150, "Haleluyoh."    


Louis Lewandowski


But allow me to put this in its historical context. Louis Lewandowski arrived in Berlin in 1833, a destitute thirteen-year-old orphan from Wreschen in the east, hoping to serve as a boy soprano with Cantor Asher Lion in the Heidereutergasse synagogue. Because of his prodigious talent, the young man quickly became an indispensable assistant to Cantor Lion and was given the task of training the choir. Alexander Mendelssohn (cousin of the great composer Felix Mendelssohn) arranged for the young orphan to study at the Berlin Academy of the Arts on full scholarship, becoming the first Jew ever admitted to the Academy. 


Oranienburgerstrasse Synagogue

Oranienburgerstrasse Synagogue

In 1844, Lewandowski was hired as the synagogue choirmaster, marking the first time such a position had ever been professionalized. In 1866, the New Synagogue was built on Oranienburgerstrasse. The sanctuary could accommodate some 3,000 worshippers, had one of the finest organs in Berlin, and resounded with the new music that Lewandowski was composing for this grand congregation. His compositions were published between 1871 and 1882 and would soon be performed in synagogues around the world. His setting of Psalm 150 ("Haleluyoh") is one of the best-known Jewish choral anthems; and his melodies for parts of the liturgy, such as "tsaddik ka-tomor yifrach" and "ki vonu vocharta," have achieved the status of "traditional" in many synagogues.  

Would I be hesitant to travel to Berlin? Would I be haunted by its Nazi past? I first visited that city in the summer of 2010, when I was invited to give a paper at a Jewish Music conference. My wife and I visited a number of Holocaust memorials, and we were impressed with the extent to which the German government was atoning for the sins of its anti-Semitic past. But beyond the memorials, we were most impressed with the many monuments to the city's rich Jewish heritage and the current efforts to resurrect a vibrant Jewish community.

Lewandowski Festival Logo  
The upcoming Louis Lewandowski Festival is a part of that Jewish cultural and religious renaissance. The program is being offered under the auspices of Klaus Wowereit, Governing Mayor of Berlin; and Lala Süßkind, President of the Jewish Community of Berlin. The festival, the first of its kind, will be a major cultural event in Berlin, with concerts, musical services, lectures, and workshops throughout the city. The Zamir Chorale of Boston will be joined by seven other choirs from around the world: Synagogenchor of Zürich, the Jerusalem Cantors Choir, the Synagogal Ensemble of Berlin, the Johannesburg Jewish Male Choir, the Toronto Jewish Male Choir, the Zemel Choir (England), and Les Polyphonies Hébraïques of Strasbourg (France). But we are the only choir invited to perform a special concert at the new Jewish Museum in Berlin.

Since our founding in 1969, we have made it our mission to bring the finest examples of Jewish choral music in the most refined performances to as broad an audience as possible. In December 1983, at Boston's Jordan Hall, we presented a concert of the great nineteenth-century classics of Jewish music from the magnificent synagogues of Berlin, Paris, and Vienna. In the spring of 1985, we recorded this music, and subsequently issued it, first as an LP, then as a cassette, and then, with expanded selections, as a compact disc.

This is a repertoire that is for the most part no longer heard in synagogues, which have by and large abandoned their choirs and organs in favor of songleaders with guitars. Jewish audiences are delighted to hear a revival of this wonderful repertoire. And non-Jewish conductors have been gratified to discover accessible repertoire from the Jewish traditions that has depth, substance, and beauty. In March 2010, in response to a workshop that I had presented at the national conference of Chorus America, Prof. Anton Armstrong, distinguished conductor of the St. Olaf Choir in Minnesota, wrote to me in an email: "A jewel for me was 'Enosh,' by Louis Lewandowski, which was a highlight of the 2010 St. Olaf Choir tour. The students and audiences were moved deeply by the work."

Now we welcome this opportunity to inspire and educate the people of Berlin, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to celebrate the richness of Jewish life that was so powerful in the late nineteenth century, and to be a part of its renaissance today.  


Gearing Up for Germany  

On Thursday, November 10, 7:30 pm, the Zamir Chamber Chorus will perform at the Goethe-Institut, Boston. We are delighted to present this program in appreciation of our generous donors who donate $360 or more to Zamir's fall fundraising campaign. The concert will feature the music to be performed at the Lewandowski Festival in December. Guest speakers include the German Consul General.    

Sixth Annual Open Sing

Sunday, December 4, 4:00 pm, Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill, including Cantors Aryeh Finkelstein, Elias Rosemberg, Randall Schloss, and Scott Sokol. 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.

Zamir to Perform in Berlin December 15-18  
Wilkommen in Berlin! Over 35 members of the Zamir Chorale of Boston will travel to Berlin, Germany, to participate in the first Louis Lewandowski Festival. Performances will take place Saturday evening, December 17 at the Jewish Museum, and Sunday afternoon, December 18, at the Rykestraße Synagogue.


Zamir is deeply grateful to the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Boston and to an anonymous donor for helping to underwrite this tour.  

Hanukkah Happens XXII     

Fresh from our inspiring performances in Berlin, we'll be ready to celebrate Hanukkah Happens XXII, Thursday, December 22 at 7:30 pm, at Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward Street, Newton. This year features an exciting all-Sephardic program, with Cantors Elias Rosemberg and Elise Barber. Repertoire will include Yehezkel Braun's "Seven Sephardic Romances," Flory Jagoda's "Hamisha Asar," "Ocho Kandelikas," and much more. Ticket information will be available in November at Temple Emanuel.

Middle East Harmonies in Providence  
Thursday, February 16, 2012: Excerpts from last season's "Middle East Harmonies" at the ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) Convention at the Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island. 
Community Concert in Copley 
Sunday, March 11 at 3:00 pm: Joint concert with the Trinity Church Choir at Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston.  
Israel Independence Day Celebration   
Celebrate Israel Independence Day at Congregation Mishkan Tefila, 300 Hammond Pond Parkway, Chestnut Hill, on Wednesday, April 25, 7:30 pm. The program will feature Cantor Charles Osborne's oratorio Like Wildflowers, Suddenly (with orchestra). 
Ten Greatest Composers of Jewish Music  
Sponsored by Hebrew College, this program will be held on Thursday, May 17 (time and location TBA).
From Boston to Berlin  
Join us on Sunday, June 3, for a 3:00 pm or 7:00 pm performance at Brandeis University, when Zamir will present two shows of "From Boston to Berlin," featuring music from Zamir's concert tour to Berlin, including music of German Jewish composers from the synagogue to the cabaret stage. Stay tuned for details. 
Cantors' Conference Celebrates Boston Composers   

On June 28, Zamir was delighted to perform at "Best of Boston: A Concert of Jewish Music," as part of the annual American Conference of Cantors and Guild of Temple Musicians Convention. The serene view from the windows overlooking the garden at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley set the tone for a lovely evening. Musicians from the ACC and GTM joined Zamir in a tribute to Boston composers. It was especially thrilling to present a concert at which six of the composers on the program were present: Jeremiah Klarman, Kenneth Lampl, Charles Osborne, Nick Page, Benjie Ellen Schiller, and Robbie Solomon.

Middle East Harmonies Blend at NAJCF 

On July 10, Zamir performed at the opening-night festivities of the 22nd Annual North American Jewish Choral Festival at

Mehmet Ali Sanlikol;

photo by Mickey Goldin

the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa in Kerhonkson, N.Y. It was an especially spirited concert, which included repertoire from "Middle East Harmonies," with Mehmet Ali Sanlikol as soloist. The audience responded with great enthusiasm to a repertoire (and its message) never before heard at this festival. The highlight was "Adinu," a composition incorporating chanting from both Sufi and Jewish traditions. Our thanks to Mati Lazar and all of the NAJCF community for another opportunity to celebrate the beauty and breadth of Jewish choral music among friends and colleagues from all over the world.  




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

Wishing you all a Shanah Tovah and Chag Sameach--a happy, healthy, and sweet new year to you and your loved ones!

Shana Tovah



Barbara Gaffin

Managing Director


Deborah Sosin

Editor, E-Notes