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Josh Jacobson's Musings
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Four new singers joined the ranks of the Zamir Chorale for the 2014-15 season. They are: Rebecca Staley, soprano; Gail Terman, alto; Kevin Martin, tenor; and Andrew Mattfeld, tenor. Auditions were held on Sunday, September 21, at Hebrew College.

Monday, November 10, 7:00 pm, Goethe Institute, 170 Beacon St., Boston:  

Members of the Zamir Chamber Chorus will be on hand at this special soiree to perform selections from our upcoming concerts at the Lewandowski Festival in Berlin, Germany. To purchase tickets, click here.


Sunday, November 23, 4:00 pm, Temple Israel of Sharon, 125 Pond St., Sharon, Mass.:

A long-awaited visit to our "southern" neighbors includes a full-spectrum concert featuring music from Zamir's wide-ranging repertoire of classical, liturgical, jazz, Israeli, contemporary, and folk tunes. Selections from our upcoming Berlin concerts are also on the docket. For tickets, contact Temple Israel, 781-784-3986, or click here


Sunday, December 14, 4:00 pm, Central Reform Temple at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St., Boston:

Don't miss this free pre-holiday concert, "A Light Through the Ages," a Hanukkah celebration, featuring selections from Zamir's popular Lights album, reflections from Rabbi Howard A. Berman, and a candlelighting ceremony. For more information, click here, or email info@centralreformtemple.org.


Thursday, December 18-Sunday, December 21, Lewandowski Festival, Berlin, Germany:

We are thrilled to perform once again at the Louis Lewandowski Festival in Berlin. The theme of this year's festival is "Star and Stripes," showcasing the synagogue music of German composers who immigrated to the United States during the twentieth century, including Hugo Chaim Adler, Herbert Fromm, Max Janowski, Arnold Schoenberg, Kurt Weill, and Stephan Wolpe. The festival is again presented under the auspices of Klaus Wowereit, Governing Mayor of Berlin. For more information, click here. 


Berlin Tour Program  


Wednesday, December 24, 7:30 pm, Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward St., Newton, Mass: 

Fresh from our Berlin trip, we come home to perform Hanukkah Happens XXV, this year celebrating "Seasons of Our Joy," a concert of festive music for the Jewish holidays around the year, featuring Cantor Elias Rosemberg. Also on the program is the world premiere of "Yah Ribon Alam," commissioned from the exciting young composer Jeremiah Klarman. Tickets will be available through Temple Emanuel later in the fall.

Elias Rosemberg and Zamir at HH 2011
Cantor Elias Rosemberg


Saturday, March 7, 2015, 

8:00 pm, Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St, Boston: 

Zamir will join the Metropolitan Chorale for a performance of Handel's magnificent oratorio Israel in Egypt.

The Kings Theatre, London, in the Haymarket, where Israel in Egypt was first performed


Thursday, June 4, Time TBA, Temple Emanuel, Newton, Mass:

Mark your calendars for our season finale, this year honoring Cantor Elias Rosemberg, and featuring Jewish music from Latin America with guest artists, Amir Milstein's Tucan Trio.



Yehezkel Braun, 1922-2014

Josh Jacobson and Yehezkel Braun
Josh Jacobson and Yehezkel Braun
Zamir and the entire Jewish music community lost a dear friend in Yehezkel Braun, who passed away on August 27 at the age of 92. Click 
here for Josh Jacobson's tribute to Yehezkel. May his memory be a blessing.

In our spring issue, we listed the Metropolitan Chorale incorrectly. In addition, we want to acknowledge Cantor Hinda Eisen (now Cantor Hinda Eisen Labovitz) for the multimedia presentation at the spring concert. Apologies for the errors.


FALL 2014 

Dear Friends of Zamir,


Autumnal greetings to you all and Shanah Tovah! Auditions have wrapped up and we've launched into our 46th season, with a full slate of concerts already planned for the year. In December, we'll be returning to Berlin, Germany, to participate in the Louis Lewandowski Festival--but you don't have to travel that far to hear us perform. Check your calendars now and we hope to see you in the audience very soon. Also in this issue, Josh Jacobson reflects on the true meaning of harmony. May you and yours have a happy, sweet, and creative new year. 

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.


If I had to distill our mission into two Josh Jacobson words, it's "creating harmony." Of course, that doesn't capture all the details. At the core is our repertoire--choral interpretations of the music and texts of the Jewish people. And the spokes emanating from that core also define our mission. We reach out not only to Jewish audiences (through our "synagigs"), but crucially to the general public.

Our repertoire is available to all conductors through sheet music, CDs, iTunes, and YouTube.


In 1987, we began a series of joint concerts with the New Temple Singers, an African-American Baptist choir. In 2001, we performed our first "Sacred Bridges" concert at Our Lady Help of Christians church in Newtonville; it was a standing-room-only event. In 2011, we performed the first of our "Middle East Harmonies" programs at 

Members of Bustan Abraham

Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, bringing together Jewish and Arab music and musicians. We've collaborated with the Metropolitan Chorale of Brookline, the Newton Choral Society, Chorus pro Musica, and Nick Page's wonderful, multicultural Mystic Chorale. Zamir and I have performed and conducted workshops for conventions of the American Choral Directors Association. 


In 1999, we brought our mission to Europe with concerts in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Poland, the DVD home of the first secular Jewish choirs. The film from that tour, Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland, has been shown on public television stations throughout the country for the past 14 years. In 2002, we brought Jewish sacred choral music back to Italy, where it all began 400 years ago. And in 2011, we represented the United States at the first choral festival in Berlin, paying tribute to that city's venerable traditions of synagogue music.


This season, we will perform at synagogues in Sharon and Newton. We will collaborate with the Metropolitan Chorale in a performance at Jordan Hall of G. F. Handel's magnificent retelling of Israel's exodus from Egypt. We will collaborate with the Tucan Trio in presenting Jewish music from Latin America. We will demonstrate Jewish music to choral directors from all across America at the national convention of Chorus America. And we will once again represent the United States at the Lewandowski Festival of Jewish Music in Berlin, Germany. 


In a time of increasing anti-Semitism and other forms of xenophobia, we must do everything we can to bring people together. In a world of dissonance, we must create whatever harmony we can. In the words of my distinguished colleagues:

Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein

"This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." --Leonard Bernstein, composer and conductor 


"In spite of nature's ills and man's inhumanities, there are baser and nobler options of action. And it is a part of being human to choose the nobler. War may continue to exist. We will continue to sing." --Robert Shaw, conductor


"It is very important that people like you help us to remind the world that struggling with Arabs is not the only thing we are doing in this country." --Tzvi Avni, composer, winner of the Israel Prize


Best wishes and blessings for a harmonious New Year!


Tenor Andrew Mattfeld has been chosen as the Conducting Intern for the 2014-15 season. Originally from suburban New York City, Andrew's early training consisted of voice and piano study with Morris Borenstein and Eileen Mackintosh. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in Vocal Performance from Ithaca College School of Music. Andrew was a piano soloist and collaborator with the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival in Bonefro, Italy, in 2006 and 2007, and tenor soloist with the Frost School of Music at Salzburg College for the 2012 Salzburg Festival.


Andrew has presented lectures,

Andrew Mattfeld

recitals, and concerts in Ithaca and around the U.S. and Europe. His graduate thesis on the development of Cabaret culture as a form of political resistance in Nazi Germany was the basis for a Fulbright proposal to examine the current state of the art form in Berlin. He lives in Boston, where he has a large private studio of both young singers and pianists and serves as Director of Music Ministries and Organist at First United Methodist in Melrose. "I'm very excited to be working with the Zamir Chorale to broaden my knowledge of the Jewish choral tradition," Andrew wrote in an email, "as well as offering my experience and unique area of knowledge as the group prepares for the Berlin concert tour."


The Zamir Chorale's conducting internships have been in existence for 15 years, originally funded through a generous grant from the family of Mary Wolfman Epstein. Distinguished alumni include Dr. Allan Friedman (2002-04), former chapel conductor at Duke University, who currently leads the Women's Voices Chorus and other groups in North Carolina; Elijah Botkin (20013-14), a Northeastern University student and choral conductor at Prozdor High School; Cantor Hinda Eisen Labovitz (2008-09), now Cantor/Educator at Ohr Kodesh in Chevy Chase, Maryland; and Cantor Rick Lawrence (2011-12), now Cantor at Temple Emanu El in Orange Village, Ohio. 

Susan Rubin and Francene Reichel Sokol

On Sunday, July 20, Zamir performed on opening night of the North American Jewish Choral Festival at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa in Kerhonkson, NY, an annual event hosted by Matthew Lazar and the Zamir Choral Foundation. The enthusiastic audience of conductors, singers, and Jewish choral music aficionados from around the U.S. and Canada enjoyed the eclectic program drawn from Bible stories--from Salamone Rossi's classical "Shir Lama'alot Essa Enai" to Daniel Pinkham's techno-modern "In the Beginning." Other highlights included "It Looks Like Rain," from Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo, by Joseph Horovitz, and Robert MacGimsey's rockin' arrangement of "Shadrack." The festival was abuzz all week with praise for Zamir's excellent performance and innovative programming.


After the show, about 50 members

Johanna Ehrmann, Deborah Melkin, Jill and Larry Sandberg

and alumni representing all five (!) decades of Zamir's history gathered for partying and singing some of the old (and new) repertoire. It was wonderful to see so many friends from near and far. "There's always a bit of magic when Zamir singers, past and present, get together," said Josh. "It's like a family reunion, but without the tensions. We're a beautiful musical family!"

Leila Joy Rosenthal, Phyllis Wilner, Marilyn Jaye


Cantor Riki Lippitz and Carol Marton




















Rachel Seliber, Ruthie Birnbaum Pernick, Herbie Birnbaum 

Josh and Ronda Garber Jacobson

Photos by Larry Sandberg

As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends from around the world. Shanah Tovah and sweetest wishes for the new year.



Barbara Gaffin             Deborah Sosin

Managing Director         Editor, E-Notes