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In This Issue
Jacobson's "Musings"
Zamir DVD Shown in Mumbai
Upcoming Concerts and Events
Winter Roundup

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Going Once, Going Twice, Going Online!
Items needed for Zamir's online spring auction:
April 23-May 6, 2012 
The Zamir Chorale of Boston will kick off its first Spring Online Auction, April 23-May 6, and needs your help in spreading the word, donating items, and buying something for yourself, family, or friends! 

What makes this event so powerful is that its reach is virtually unlimited ... we expect all of our visitors to spread the word about this event using email as well as word of mouth! Zamir  will be using online software from cMarket, Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., organization focused on supporting non-profit organizations.  

If you have access to tickets for shows, sports event, vacation homes, hotel/restaurant/retail store gift certificates, let us know! Your donated item is tax-deductible. We also need volunteers to help us solicit items and make follow-up calls. 

Check out what we have so far -- the auction goes live April 23!

To donate or to volunteer, contact:
YouTube Features
Watch the

Zamir Chorale of Boston's

 Berlin performances!   

Kafe BeKef
"Kafe BeKef"

Zamir: Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss at the Jewish Museum Berlin.mov
Zamir: "Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss" at the Jewish Museum Berlin.mov


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 Ronda Jacobson

 SPRING 2012  

Dear Friends of Zamir,   


Springtime greetings! We're busier than ever in the Zamir family--warming up for a series of concerts in the Boston area as well as out-of-town gigs in Syracuse, New York, and Hamden, Connecticut, all leading up to the season finale, "From Boston to Berlin," June 3 and 4 at Slosberg Recital Hall at Brandeis University. This year we decided to move our spring concert from Harvard's Sanders Theatre to the more intimate environs of Slosberg; the audience will be even more closely involved with the music, and there is plenty of free parking.
Get all the details below, and be sure to check out our first-ever online auction!  


In each issue of E-Notes, Artistic Director

JJ at 40th photo by Larry cleaned up by JJ
Josh Jacobson photo by Larry Sandberg 
Joshua Jacobson offers his unique insights and experiences as a world-renowned scholar, composer, conductor, and influential teacher of Jewish music. Here, Josh offers a sneak preview (no spoilers, we promise!) of "The Top Ten Jewish Composers" concert at Temple Ohabei Shalom on May 17.

One year ago, music critic Anthony Tomassini initiated a fascinating blog in the New York Times: Who were the greatest ten composers who ever lived? Tomassini declared that he was limiting his investigation to composers in the tradition of European and American "classical" music. But even so, how is it possible to limit your list to only ten? Was there something arbitrary about the choice? And what defines "greatness"? Quality? Impact?


Ernest Bloch
Ernest Bloch 

Inspired by Tomassini, several of us from the faculty of the School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College decided to create a list of the ten composers who created the greatest Jewish music. But what would be our parameters? How would we define Jewish music? Would this be music by any composer who was certified as being a MOT ("member of the tribe")? Or were we looking for composers who had created music that could be certified as being in some way "Jewish"? And what about popular music? Would we include Matisyahu in our survey? Shlomo Carlebach? Debbie Friedman? Josh Dolgin? Ha-Dag Nahash? And what about the fertile revival of klezmer music, or the renaissance of the piyyut (medieval religious hymnody), or the many beautiful folk traditions of Jewish song, both sacred and secular?  


We decided that our initial investigation

Rossi Score
Salamone Rossi's HaShirim, 1622
would follow more or less the lines that Tomassini had established. We would look at composers who were creating works in the "classical" tradition, but who (according to our estimation) had created works that could by some criteria be categorized as "Jewish." Carlebach, Matisyahu, Friedman, and the rest, would be considered later in a follow-up program.


So what would be the markers, the signifiers that could classify a musical composition as "Jewish"? Perhaps it has lyrics that could be classified as "Jewish" -- words that are associated with Jews, either because they are in a language spoken by Jews or because they describe situations that are uniquely Jewish. Perhaps the composer has incorporated musical motifs that originate in the synagogue. And what about the impact? Should we consider the impact on Jewish culture or on the culture of classical music at large? Good questions. 


Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
There were a few no-brainers. Ernest Bloch composed symphonic works, chamber music, and one amazing oratorio that have Jewish content and Jewish titles and are counted among the major works of the 20th century. Leonard Bernstein, best remembered for his score for the Broadway musical, West Side Story, for his educational programs, and for his tenure as conductor of the New York Philharmonic, also composed the
Jeremiah Symphony, the Kaddish Symphony, and the all-Hebrew
Chichester Psalms. Salamone Rossi was one of the great composers of late-16th-century madrigals, trio sonatas, and dances, but he also happens to be the composer of the only collection of choral music for the synagogue in Hebrew to appear before the 19th century. Arnold Schoenberg has been hailed as one of the most significant composers of the 20th century. But Schoenberg, who single-handedly turned tonality on its head, was also a passionate defender of Judaism and Jewish nationalism, and composed a stirring Holocaust cantata, several psalm settings, and his personal take on "Kol Nidre."



But what about composers like

Paul Ben Haim
Paul Ben-Haim

Louis Lewandowski or Salomon Sulzer, who devoted their careers to advancing the music of the synagogue, whose influence can be felt even today in the Jewish liturgy, but who never had much of an impact on the musical world at large? What about Lazar Weiner, who devoted himself to creating gem-like musical miniatures, artistic settings of Yiddish poetry for voice and piano that  are of the highest caliber musically, but are hardly known outside of a small circle? What do we do with Paul Ben-Haim, who was forced out of Germany in 1933? He settled in Tel Aviv, where he created the "Eastern Mediterranean" school of music, which gave us compositions that emerged from the nexus of European symphonic forms and Middle Eastern aesthetics. Ben-Haim contributed a significant oeuvre and trained a generation of young composers, yet his works are hardly known outside of his adopted country.  


And what about those non-Jewish

Eric Whitacre
Eric Whitacre 

composers who, for various reasons, produced memorable settings of Jewish texts or Jewish melodies? Franz Schubert composed a setting in Hebrew of Psalm 92 ("Tov LeHodos") for Vienna's Seitenstettengasse synagogue. Modest Mussorgsky wrote a "Hebrew Song" as well as a biblical cantata, Joshua Bin-Nun, whose main theme is based on a Hassidic niggun. Max Bruch wrote a Kol Nidre for cello and orchestra, and Sergei Prokofiev an Overture on Hebrew Themes. And among contemporary composers, we could cite Eric Whitacre's "Five Hebrew Love Songs" and John Williams's score for the film Schindler's List.

Rabbi Greg Wall
Greg Wall


And what about jazz? Should we relegate Jewish jazz to the bin of popular music, to be considered at some future date, or is jazz, as some scholars have claimed, "America's classical music"? Indeed, John Zorn, Greg Wall, Paul Shapiro, and others have created sophisticated compositions, rooted with one foot in Jewish culture and the other in the aesthetic of jazz.


For the answers to these questions, we invite you to tune in to our video podcasts, "The Top Ten Composers of Jewish Music," which will be posted on Hebrew College's website over the next few months. And we invite you to hear this music live in concert on Thursday evening, May 17, at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline (see details below). We may not have definitive answers, but we do promise lively discussions and some over-the-top beautiful music.  

Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland
DVD Shown in Mumbai, India

A memorial ceremony held in Mumbai, India,
National Film Archive of India Director Holds Zamir DVD
Prashant Pathrabe, Director of the National Film Archives-Government of India-Pune, at the film screening

on January 27, 2012, featured a screening of Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland.The 1999 PBS documentary, which follows Zamir's concert tour through Eastern Europe, was shown in conjunction with Mumbai's seventh annual observance of the International Holocaust Day of Remembrance. The ceremony was organized by the group Young's Dream Works Intl, headed by media producer Richard Young. Zamir provided a copy of the DVD to the National Film Archives of India Director Prashant Pathrabe.

Monday, March 26, 8:00 pm: Town Hall with Knesset MembersZamir will join over 30 Jewish organizations in co-sponsoring "Town Hall Boston: A Discussion on American Jews and Israel," featuring six members of Knesset, at Temple Emanuel in Newton. The Knesset members' visit to Boston is made possible by the Ruderman Family Foundation, in partnership with Brandeis University. No reservations are necessary. For further information, visit the Office of the President, Brandeis University, or email: [email protected] The Zamir Chamber Chorus will perform for the Knesset members at a dinner with Brandeis's Board of Trustees.

Sunday, April 22, 3:00 pm:
We'll be packing our bags for a day trip to Congregation Adath Yeshurun, in Syracuse, NY, where we'll perform a concert featuring synagogue music spanning four centuries, music from Israel, toe-tapping Sephardic songs, as well as highlights from our tour to Germany. For ticket information, go to www.adath.org.

Sunday, May 13, 2:00-3:00 pm: In keeping with our mission to bring quality Jewish music into the community, Zamir will present our annual concert for residents and their families at Hebrew SeniorLife in Roslindale, Mass.
Zamir at HSL 2011
Zamir at HSL 2011
Thursday, May 17, 7:30 pm:  Zamir participates in "The Top Ten Jewish Composers," a unique program presented by Hebrew College's School of Jewish Music. The concert, to be held at Temple Ohabei Shalom, 1187 Beacon Street, Brookline, features works by Bernstein, Lewandowski,  . . . well, you'll just have to come and find out the rest. Other performers include Kol Arev, the Hebrew College Performing Ensemble; Cantor Randall Schloss; and others from the School of Jewish Music. Tickets: $10 for students/seniors/ Ohabei Shalom congregants; $20/general admission. Tickets will also be available at the door and online. For more information, visit www.hebrewcollege.edu.

Sunday May 20, 4:00 pm:
Zamir pays a return visit to Congregation Mishkan Israel, in Hamden, CT, for the temple's annual Cantor's Concert, entitled "Mah Tovu: Celebrating the Good at Mishkan Israel." Zamir will perform a smorgasbord of this season's repertoire, along with old favorites. The concert also includes a special tribute to Jerusalem in honor of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day); reception follows. For more information, visit Congregation Mishkan Israel's website.

Sunday, June 3, 7:30 pm, and Monday, June 4, 8:00 pm, Slosberg Recital Hall, Brandeis University: "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. Reserved seating $54; open seating $20.  Become a concert sponsor to help support Zamir's music with a mission! Watch your email for details.

Thursday, June 14, 7:30 pm: The Zamir Chamber Chorus will present a short program as part of the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts's Annual Meeting at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley. Barbara Gaffin, Zamir's longtime Managing Director, is among the honorees. For details, contact [email protected].

Sunday, August 19, 7:30 pm: Join us at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield, Mass., the heart of the Berkshire Mountains, for a late-summer musical treat. More information to come in the summer issue of E-Notes.

Zamir Sings for American Choral Directors Association in Providence  


ACDA logoOn Thursday, February 16, Zamir performed excerpts from the "Middle East Harmonies" repertoire at this year's ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) Convention at the Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Professor Andre de Quadros joined Josh Jacobson in discussing the Middle East Harmonies project and its underlying themes; and the dangers, delights, and difficulties of putting together musics from Jewish and Arab (Muslim and Christian) traditions. An ensemble from Zamir, with soloist Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, presented five pieces as a demonstration. The many conductors who attended were suitably impressed by the cultural diversity, the concept of harmony as metaphor, and the shimmering performances.


Trinity Church Choirs and Zamir Share  

Sacred Traditions    


Boston's historic Trinity Church

Trinity Choirs and Zamir
Photo by Mickey Goldin

in Copley Square served as the setting for an uplifting concert of music from Jewish and Christian traditions on Sunday, March 11, featuring Zamir and the Trinity Church Choirs, under the direction of Richard Webster and Colin Lynch. Two themes--psalm settings and texts from Kedushah/Sanctus/Holy--anchored the diverse program, which featured solo sets by each group and two combined sets. Cantors Scott Sokol and Elias Rosemberg joined the groups as soloists.


Trinity Church
Photo by Mickey Goldin 

Zamir performed sacred works by Lewandowski, Rossi, and Avni, as well as a beautiful setting of "Adon Olam" by local composer Kenneth Lampl, who commented, "I can't begin to convey how deeply moved I was by both the exquisite performance of my piece and the warmth and connectedness I felt with the ensemble and to my roots as a Jewish composer."


The 100+ voices of the two choirs then stood in the circular apse for an ethereal rendition Mendelssohn's "Heilig," followed by Bernstein's "Sanctus" from his MASS, and Milhaud's "Kedushah" from Service Sacré.

The Trinity Choirs then offered a stunning performance of Bruckner's "Os Justi," as well as motets by Purcell,

Ed Swanborn at Trinity
Ed Swanborn photo by Mickey Goldin 

conductor Webster, and others. The organ resounded throughout the resonant space, whose gold mosaic interior shimmered in the afternoon sun. Zamir's Edwin Swanborn and organist Lynch provided sensitive accompaniment throughout the afternoon.


The choirs joined together again for Sulzer's inspiring "Halleluyoh," with Franziska Huhn, harpist; and Janowski's well-known prayer for peace, "Sim Shalom." For the finale, the singers lined the aisles of the sanctuary, surrounding the audience in a musical embrace for John Rutter's simple but powerful "The Lord Bless You and Keep You."


Thank you to Richard Webster and the Trinity Boston Preservation Trust for an exceptionally gratifying collaboration. In an email to Josh following the concert, Webster wrote, "It was a blessing indeed to share the beauty, stimulation, and holiness of this occasion. We were stretched in new and gratifying ways, and I do believe that God truly shined upon our collective efforts. With you and your fine chorus we have new and cherished friends."    

As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends near and far. Chag Kasher v'Sameach! Warmest Passover greetings to you and your families.

Barbara Gaffin 

Managing Director



Deborah Sosin

Editor, E-Notes