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Josh Jacobson's Musings
Upcoming Concerts
"From Boston to Berlin"
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Join the Chorus! Fall Auditions for All Vocal Parts  
If you are an experienced singer with a strong choral background, consider joining the Zamir Chorale of Boston. All voice parts welcome, especially tenors!

Auditions for the 2012-13 season will be held:
    Sunday, October 14

(by appointment)   
7:00-9:30 pm   
Hebrew College 
160 Herrick Road  
Newton Centre  

Prospective members will  attend four Open Rehearsals:
Tuesday, September 11; Sunday, September 23; Thursday, October 4; and Thursday, October 11.

Regular rehearsals 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 manager@zamir.org. 
Robert Snyder Elected as New Board Chair
Zamir board member Robert Snyder, of Wayland, was unanimously elected to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors for the 2012-13 season at Zamir's Annual board meeting held in June.
Robert Snyder
Robert Snyder  
A partner of Sinco Inc., a food marketing company headquartered in Belmont, Robert was a music major at Bowdoin College and composed many Jewish and secular songs that are performed by cantors and soloists around the Boston area. Robert and his wife, Myra, are parents of three adult children and five grandchildren.

"As America's foremost Jewish chorale," wrote Robert in an email, "Zamir must rise to the exciting challenges of building audiences and expanding our reach. We will continue our mission to build community one song at a time. This is a great group of people who are consummate artists. I am thrilled to be a partner in Zamir's continuing development."

Newton resident Martin Oppenheimer, a Zamir board member and Chorale member for the past nine years, was elected Clerk. Marty is Senior Counsel for Business Affairs at Tufts University.

Jeff Rosenberg, of Newton, was re-elected as Treasurer. Jeff is an engineer and program manager for Alcatel-Lucent Technologies. He also does IT,  bookkeeping, stained-glass design and repair, gardening, and PC refurbishing.
In addition, Zamir singer Judith Pike, of Needham, was elected as a new board member. An active member of Temple Aliyah in Needham, where she has held numerous leadership positions, Judy is an attorney and former member of the original Board of Directors of the Boston Jewish Music Festival. She currently serves as pro-bono legal counsel to BJMF.

"We are delighted to have Judy join our efforts in meeting the challenges of the coming years for the continued growth of Zamir," said Snyder. "With Judy's contributions as a chorus member and as co-chair of Zamir's spring auction, as well as her involvement in the community, I know she will be an important addition to Zamir's leadership."

Snyder extended his deep appreciation to Bruce Creditor, who is stepping down as Chair on July 1; former Chair and alumnus Alan "Tep" Teperow; Nancy Finn; and former Zamir Vice-Chair Daniel Bauman, who also stepped down. "Tep's contributions to Zamir are unsurpassed, and we are fortunate that he will remain as Chair of the Alumni Relations Committee. Nancy provided invaluable assistance in the area of marketing, while Dan's thorough oversight of Zamir's Operating Fund helped us enormously. We are indebted to all of them."
The following board members were elected for the 2012-13 season:

Joshua Jacobson,               President
Robert Snyder, Chair
Martin Oppenheimer, Clerk
Jeff Rosenberg, Treasurer
Bruce Creditor
Bruce Donoff
Peter Finn, Chair, Operating Fund
Barbara Gaffin, ex-officio, Managing Director
Phyllis Hammer
Suzanne Hanser
Deborah Melkin, ex-officio, Chorus Vice- President
Judith R. Pike
Susan Rubin, ex-officio, Chorus President
Lawrence E. Sandberg
Gilbert Schiffer
Jon Tepper
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

 SUMMER 2012  

Dear Friends of Zamir,   

Summertime greetings! In this issue, we'll look back at the spring concert season, including photos and fan mail from our sold-out and much-heralded June concerts, "From Boston to Berlin." Coming up, don't miss our August performance at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield, Mass., in the beautiful Berkshires. Plus you'll find a sneak preview of the 2012-13 season. So grab a lemonade, kick up your heels, and enjoy! 

JJ at 40th photo by Larry cleaned up by JJ
Joshua Jacobson photo by Larry Sandberg
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.

Since we started Zamir in 1969, I've seen it as our mission not merely to entertain, but to demonstrate the variety and depth of Jewish choral music. And we've made it a point to broaden our outreach beyond Boston to audiences across North America, and eventually to Europe and Israel, as well. And not just to Jewish audiences, but to all lovers of good music. Indeed, we've been called "ambassadors" of Israeli and Jewish culture.

I suppose that began with my attempts to combat an inferiority complex. On the one hand, there was the extraordinary wealth of great music that arose from the traditions of Christian Europe. On the other hand, what did the general public see from Jewish traditions beyond the occasional "Hava Nagila" or "My Yiddishe Mama"? I wanted to show off the great Hebrew choral-orchestral works of Ernest Bloch, Leonard Bernstein, and Paul Ben-Haim. I wanted the world to see that Kurt Weill, Arnold Schoenberg, Aaron Copland, Darius Milhaud, and many other world-famous composers expressed their Jewish heritage in music. I introduced into our concerts the beautiful ancient plainchant of the synagogue. And, yes, I sought out and created excellent choral arrangements of our folk songs and popular songs, including "Hava Nagila."

DVDZamir has presented this music in concerts, both live and through television and radio broadcasts--more than 700 of them since our founding in 1969. We've issued more than 20 recordings and a video. For a few years, we published a magazine and now we host a website rich with resources. We've commissioned and premiered dozens of new choral works. To broaden our audiences (as well as our own experiences), we've collaborated with numerous choruses, including the Newton Choral Society, Chorus pro Musica, the Mystic Chorale, the choirs of Boston's Trinity Church, and the Metropolitan (formerly the Brookline) Chorus. To reach out to the many choral singers in our neighborhood we've organized open sings, where we have presented some of the finest choral gems of our tradition, as well as "Handel's other December oratorio," Judas Maccabaeus.

I've also been active in several professional organizations, writing articles and presenting workshops on Jewish choral music for conductors at national and regional conventions of Chorus America and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). This July, I'll be in Denver, doing a workshop for the Colorado ACDA, and next May in Minneapolis, working with "Singers in Accord." Josh's bookMore than a hundred of my editions and arrangements of Zamir's repertoire have been published and are sung by choruses, both Jewish and non-Jewish, around the world. My collaboration with the young conductor/scholar Ethan Nash has resulted in the publication of the definitive resource for singing in Hebrew, Translations and Annotations of Choral Repertoire--Volume IV: Hebrew Texts, published by earthsongs in 2009. I have gotten great satisfaction from seeing Zamir's music performed by other choirs--middle school, high school, college, conservatory, community choirs, even church choirs, and at choral festivals and conventions. Recently, Dr. Anton Armstrong, conductor of the acclaimed St. Olaf Choir, wrote, "Thank you for your fine session at Chorus America last June. You shared so many practical resources and fine choral literature from the heritage of Jewish music. 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."
Zamir 1970
Zamir 1970
In the first years of Zamir I was told, more than once, that it's not enough just to perform Jewish music. They key was to program the best music and to perform it with the highest standards. Indeed, in those days it was easy to get applause. In the early 1970s, 40 college students on stage looking fairly neat in their uniforms, showing their devotion to Judaism through song--for many of our audiences that was enough. But it wasn't enough for us. We honed our mission and grew into the goals that we set for ourselves. Hopefully we'll keep growing for many years to come.


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. Tickets may be purchased at the theater box office, 111 South Street, Pittsfield; by phone at 413-997-4444; or online at BerkshireTheatreGroup.org. Berkshire Theater Group charges a $5 handling fee per order for tickets purchased over the phone or online. For more information call 413-442-4360, ext. 12. 
Sunday, October 28, 3:00-4:00 pm, Temple Reyim, Newton: Zamir brings back "Zing! An Interactive Children's Concert," sponsored by the Garber family in memory of Zamir's co-founder and Josh's dear friend, Lou Garber. Admission is free. Stay tuned for additional details.

Sunday, December 2, 4:00 pm, Congregation Mishkan Tefila, Chestnut Hill: In conjunction with LimmudBoston, Zamir's annual Open Sing returns with music of Israeli songwriters and composers, in addition to favorite choruses from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus. Watch your email for more information. 


"From Boston to Berlin" Raises the Rafters at Brandeis  


Brandeis's resonant Slosberg Hall

From Boston to Berlin at Brandeis
"From Boston to Berlin" at Slosberg Hall, Brandeis
(Concert photos by Mickey Goldin)
was filled to capacity for Zamir's two spectacular end-of-season concerts on June 3 and 4. "From Boston to Berlin" featured highlights from Zamir's December tour to Berlin--music from the synagogue bima to the cabaret stage. In the 90-minute program, performed without intermission, the chorus covered vast moods and styles, and sang from the stage and, with deft choreography, lined up on the steps beside the audience. The entire concert was one highlight after another, leaving the audience rapt. The choir was joined by Edwin Swanborn, piano and organ; Taki Masuko, percussion; and guest Cantor Joel Caplan on flute and clarinet.

Naomi Gurt Lind
Naomi Gurt Lind sings "Mahnung" 
The chorus performed works by Lewandowski, Bernstein, Carlebach, Fromm, Weill, and Schoenberg, among others. A slide show projected images from the Berlin tour as well as translations of the tunes. Interspersed among the songs were moving and funny recollections by individuals about their experiences and epiphanies while in Berlin, as well as Maestro Josh Jacobson's inimitable narration, some of which was presented in impeccable German. The evening ended with a stunning encore, Irving Berlin's setting of Emma Lazarus's poem, "The New Colossus."

"From Boston to Berlin" Fan Mail

Longtime Zamir friends and supporters Susie and Fred Jacobs shared their experience in an email (reprinted here with permission): Zamir lineup at Brandeis

"What a beautiful concert! We really loved it and we were not alone, as the entire audience shared our enthusiasm! It was so powerful, with so many elements to enrich the experience; from the placement of the choir to create the surround sound, to the perfect acoustics of the great hall with the powerful organ that enhanced the spiritual dimension of the repertoire along with the timely percussionist. Phew, what a soundfest, all of which added to the music, without distracting from the choral program! Each soloist seemed to be perfectly matched with their musical selections, as they added choreography and dramatic flair to their performances, especially the guest cantor [Joel Caplan] who contributed his many musical talents!
Zamir at Boston to Berlin, Brandeis
"Josh, you are a very special conductor, who elevates each concert with your background narration, so it is always a thrill to watch you and learn at the same time. The Chorale sounded superb, so sweet and yet so strong in introducing both new works and raising familiar ones to new heights! To realize that the liturgical pieces and popular songs all shared the common sources through Berlin and to imagine Zamir performing many to receptive audiences in Berlin itself was the icing on the musical cake. So we thank you for another extraordinary evening." 


And we also heard from Rabbi Jeffrey A. Summit at Tufts University, who wrote:

"[The concert] was an extraordinary performance: intelligent, creative
Rabbi Jeff Summit
Rabbi Jeff Summit
and musically accomplished. The program was important both in its diverse representation of the contributions of German Jewish composers and the ways that these pieces afforded a deeper understanding of the Jewish contributions to Berlin's vibrant music culture. Kurt Weill's 'Kiddush' was a revelation, drawing from a surprisingly diverse musical palate. The staging of Shlomo Carlebach's 'Lekhu Neranenah,' was gutsy and inventive.  When the choir lined the aisles, turned towards the wall and their song morphed into davening, the performance evoked prayer at the Western Wall. These, and other liturgical pieces, were a moving exploration of Jewish spirituality, old and new.


"The concert was also fun: theatrical cabaret, a wonderful Israeli version of 'Java Jive' and a rocking re-creation of the Andrew Sisters' 'Ba Mir Bistu Sheyn.' You just don't get to see a soloist with evening gown and cigarette holder looking like she stepped out of
The Blue Angel at enough Jewish chorale concerts these days. 


"But there was something else happening as well: the excitement of hearing the story of Zamir's experience in Berlin through song and the joy that one feels in the presence of accomplished musicians who love singing together. That was the gift I took from this concert: a fresh appreciation of music I thought I knew and an introduction to compositions that opened my eyes and ears to the richness of our Jewish soundscape." 

For a preview of "From Boston to Berlin" concert videos, visit 

Honoring Barbara Gaffin at Synagogue Council Meeting 

On June 14, members of the Zamir Chorale performed at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley as part of the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts' Annual Meeting, whose theme was "A Tree of Life: One Community, Many Branches." Barbara Gaffin, Zamir's longtime Managing Director, received the Klal Yisrael Award. Community Service Awards were given to Susan and Joe Stone, and Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler for their passionate devotion to the community.

BG thanks SCM
Barbara Gaffin expresses appreciation for the
Klal Yisrael Award.
Photo by Larry Sandberg 
Barbara was acknowledged for "her inspired leadership in causes as diverse as Ethiopian Jewry, the synagogue, Jewish choral music, Soviet Jewry, and Israel. With over 35 years experience working in the Jewish community, particularly in community relations and public policy, Barbara has advocated on behalf of, developed partnerships with, and established cutting-edge projects with local, national, and international civic groups, government agencies, and Jewish communities."

The chorus sang "There Must Be Another Way," originally performed by Israeli singer Noa and Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad, and surrounded the honorees for Rutter's prayerful "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." Thanks for your hard work, dedication, and radiant spirit, Barbara. You are the engine that keeps Zamir running!
Zamir prepares to sing
Singing for Barbara Gaffin
Photo by Sheila Goldberg

"Mah Tovu" at Mishkan Israel, Hamden, CT 

Zamir returned to Congregation Mishkan Israel, in Hamden, CT, on May 20, for the synagogue's annual Cantor's Concert, entitled "Mah Tovu: Celebrating the Good at Mishkan Israel." The audience was seated cabaret-style, adding to the joyful, inclusive mood of the concert, which was followed by a lovely reception. Mishkan Israel's Cantor Arthur Giglio joined Zamir in Max Janowski's beloved  "Sim Shalom," and the Chorale performed a smorgasbord of this season's repertoire, along with old favorites. The concert also included a special tribute to Jerusalem in honor of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). Thank you, Mishkan Israel, for hosting such a wonderful event; we sang all the way home on the bus!

Counting Down the Top 10 Jewish Composers 

Sponsored by Hebrew College's School of Jewish Music, "The Top 10 Jewish Composers" concert at Temple Ohabei Shalom, Brookline, was held on May 17. The evening included readings as well as performances by Zamir; Kol Arev, Hebrew College's new performing ensemble; Cantor Randall Schloss; Cantor Charles Osborne; and others from the School of Jewish Music.

Lynn Torgove, who organized the event, was among the fine soloists for the concert, which included her stirring performance of Bernstein's "Lamentations," with Yehudi Wyner at the piano. The concert marked Kol Arev's public debut, and members performed pioneer songs arranged by Kurt Weill, Aaron Copland, and others. So, here's the countdown of who made the cut: Louis Lewandowski, Salamone Rossi, Ernest Bloch, Leonard Bernstein, Arnold Schoenberg, Lazar Weiner, Yosele Rosenblatt (representing the high art of hazzanut), Paul Ben-Haim, Darius Milhaud, and Sholom Secunda.

Reaching Out to Hebrew SeniorLife Residents 

In keeping with our mission to bring quality Jewish music into the community, Zamir presented our annual concert for residents and their families at Hebrew SeniorLife in Roslindale, Mass., on Mother's Day, May 13. Zamir's student conductors Hinda Eisen, Devin Lawrence, and Rick Lawrence took turns at the podium. At the end of the diverse program, choir and audience members alike were especially touched when the singers formed a circle around the circumference of the room and sang John Rutter's moving "The Lord Bless You and Keep You."  

Happy 90th, Hebrew College! 

On May 9, the Zamir Chamber Chorus
Hebrew College President and Zamir Alum Daniel Lehmann
Hebrew College President and Zamir Alum Daniel Lehmann singing with Zamir at Sanders Theatre
Photo by Mickey Goldin 
entertained in the Ted Cutler Atrium as part of a lively gala event for Hebrew College's 90th Anniversary Celebration, co-chaired by Zamir's incoming board chair, Robert Snyder, and his wife, Myra. Students, faculty, and alumni from across the decades enjoyed clapping and dancing along to Israeli songs. Hebrew College President and former Zamirnik Daniel Lehmann contributed his vocal talents as soloist in a rendition of Sholom Secunda's "Pis'chu Li."

Day Trip to Syracuse
Zamir enjoyed a bus trip to Syracuse, NY, on April 22, for a "synagig" at Congregation Adath Yeshurun. The concert featured synagogue music spanning four centuries, music from Israel, toe-tapping Sephardic songs, as well as highlights from the Berlin festival. We were delighted to welcome guest soloist Ba'alat Tefilah Esa Jaffe, who performed Benjie Ellen Schiller's "Halleluhu" and Aharon Bensoussan's "Lekha Dodi"; and Zamir alumna Lisa Levens, who sang "Al Giv'ot Shekh Abrek," by Mordecai Zeira. Thanks to our gracious hosts for a lovely afternoon in the Empire State.

Singing for Knesset Members and Brandeis Board of Trustees 

On March 27, the Zamir Chamber Chorus performed Israeli songs for five visiting members of the Israeli Knesset and Brandeis University's Board of Trustees, including President Fred Lawrence. The Knesset members' visit to Boston was made possible by the Ruderman Family Foundation, in partnership with Brandeis University. Tunes included "Boker Shel Zahav," "Niga El Ha-Chalom," and "Kafe Bekef."
Zamir with Brandeis Pres. Fred Lawrence
Zamir Chamber Chorus with Brandeis University President Fred Lawrence
(pictured far right)   
As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends near and far. Have a wonderful summer, wherever you are!

Barbara Gaffin 

Managing Director



Deborah Sosin

Editor, E-Notes