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Thursday, June 4, 7:30 pm
Temple Emanuel, Newton

Zamir: South of the Border
A sizzling concert of music from 
Latin America

Cantor Elias Rosemberg

the Tucan Trio
and the world premiere of
"Yah Ribon,"
by Jeremiah Klarman

Please see details under Upcoming Concerts, in this issue. If you'd like to place an ad in the Tribute Book honoring Cantor Rosemberg or to purchase tickets: ($54, $25, with discounts for seniors, students and groups), visit

On March 3, Zamir Board Chair Robert Snyder and Managing Director Barbara Gaffin joined the Massachusetts Cultural Council at McCormick & Schmick's in the Back Bay to bid goodbye to Charles Coe, distinguished poet, arts advocate, and past Zamir honoree, who retired after 18 years of service to the MCC. The MCC is a long-time supporter of Zamir's and Charles was the state-funded organization's program manager.


Pictured: Mike Ibrahim, Charles's successor at the MCC; Zamir Board Chair Robert Snyder; Zamir Managing Director Barbara Gaffin; and the guest of honor


SPRING 2015 

Dear Friends of Zamir,


Here comes the sun! It's springtime at last in New England. As the snow mountains slowly melt and the days grow longer, we're busy rehearsing for two big concerts, at Temple Shalom and Temple Emanuel in Newton, and June appearances in Boston in conjunction with the national Chorus America convention. But lest you think we've been hibernating, check out the roundup of our recent performance of Handel's Israel in Egypt at Jordan Hall with the Metropolitan Chorale; and a report from our indefatigable artistic director, Josh Jacobson, who flew to Salt Lake City for the annual convention of the American Choral Directors Association in February. 

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.


I was asked to address a Josh Jacobson session on "Music in Worship" at the annual convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) held last month in Salt Lake City. I decided to challenge these musicians (most of whom work in Christian churches of various denominations) to wrestle with the fact that most music that is used in worship fails to challenge anyone's comfort level. 


In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, Bernard Holland wrote, "Less important music is being written for the church these days. . . . With its hand-clapping, inspirational, just-folks character, how different this music is from a tradition that ran from plainchant through Josquin and Palestrina to Mozart and Beethoven, and finally to Messiaen and Britten."


Doesn't the congregation ever want to just stop and listen and be inspired?


I'd like to share four inspiring quotes on this topic by one of the great humanist conductors, the late Robert Shaw.


"One does not gain strength for the terrifying stresses of virtue by gorging his muscles on fraud and hanky-panky. A God of Truth, Goodness and Mercy is not honored by laying last night's top-40 or disco derivatives on his altar."


"Popular music is not the people's music. The people think so little of it that they tire of it in six to sixteen weeks."


"The truth is that worship should be a heart-wrenching, soul-searing, mind-stretching and generally exhausting experience. One should not be required to check his mind at the door."


"Great music is worship."

Doesn't the congregation ever want to just stop and listen and be inspired?


Here's a beautiful little poem by the 16th-century explorer, Sir Francis Drake:


"Disturb us, Lord, when

We are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true

Because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore."


Why do we sail so close to the shore? Why do we resist a musical experience that could ruffle us a little bit, disturb us, shock us, speak to our spirit, a musical experience that could inspire, that could trigger a peak experience?


Great art has the power to transport us to a different place...

The great American composer Charles Ives wrote, "Is not beauty in music too often confused with something which lets the ears lie back in an easy-chair? Many sounds that we are used to do not bother us, and for that reason are we not inclined to call them beautiful?"


Great art has the power to transport us to a different place, to take us deeper into ourselves, or to take us way outside of our normal zone of experiences. But so much of the music that we hear, so much of the music that we program, so

much of the music that we perform tends to keep us in our comfort zone.


I love this statement attributed to the Ba'al Shem Tov, the 18th-century founder of a radical Jewish movement called Hassidism:  "Music is that which takes you from where you are to where you want to be." And I might add that great music takes you from where you are to where you didn't even know you wanted to be. Surprise! How did I get here?! Wow! Awesome!

Thursday, May 14, 7:30 pm, Berenson Hall, Hebrew College, 160 Herrick Rd, Newton: The School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College will present a special showing of Mendelssohn, the Nazis and Me, a documentary film by writer and director Sheila Hayman, a descendant of the famed 19th-century German composer. The film chronicles the Nazis' attempt to erase the music of Felix Mendelssohn--a devout Christian who was born Jewish--from the history books, and of his decsendants' struggle to stay alive during the Holocaust. Prior to the screening, Zamir and Hebrew College's Cantor Lynn Torgove will perform excerpts of Mendelssohn's Elijah. Afterwards, a panel discussion, moderated by Professor Joshua Jacobson, will focus on Mendelssohn's musical and cultural legacies, as well as the Jewishness of Mendelssohn and his descendants. For more information, contact [email protected] 
Sunday, May 17,
7:00 pm, Temple Shalom, 175 Temple St, Newton:
We are delighted to be participating in this year's Newton Festival of the Arts Interfaith Choirs concert, joining Cantor Elias Rosemberg, Cantor Peter Halpern, and 12 choral groups totaling 120 participants from diverse religious backgrounds in Newton. Each group will perform one piece and all the choirs will then join hands in song. Join us for this unforgettable evening! For tickets, visit Festival of the Arts.


Thursday, June 4, 7:30 pm, Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward St, Newton: Mark your calendars for "Zamir: South of the Border," our spring concert, this year honoring Cantor Elias Rosemberg, and featuring sizzling music from Latin America, with guest artists, the Tucan Trio. The trio, which formed in 1998 in Tel Aviv, features three Brazilian-Israeli musicians: Joca Perpignan, percussion 

and vocals; Amir Milstein, flute; and Hagai Rehavia, guitar. In a concert prelude, we will present the world premiere of Yah Ribon, composed by Jeremiah Klarman in honor of Cantor Rosemberg. Jeremiah is a young composer whose music Zamir has commissioned and promoted many times over the past five years. His newest work is an impressive tour-de-force! For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit zamir.org.


Thursday, June 18, 12:30 pm, State House, Boston: Zamir will be appearing with the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. The JYC is "an ensemble of high school students from East and West Jerusalem working to attain high levels of collaborative musicianship and empathy for one another. Through music and dialogue, the Palestinian and Israeli singers learn skills of communication and trust," according to the JYC's website. Later that afternoon, Josh Jacobson will present a session, "Great Choral Music on Jewish Texts," at the Park Plaza Hotel as part of the annual Chorus America convention, this year held in Boston and hosted by the Handel and Haydn Society. Chorus America is an organization promoting advocacy, research, and leadership development that advances the choral field. This session will introduce attendees to the often-surprising breadth and depth of choral music from the Jewish traditions, with a live performance by Zamir. Participants will learn about and hear music both secular and sacred, modern and ancient, classical and traditional.

As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends near and far. Chag Kasher v'Sameah! Happy Passover and we hope to see you soon!



Barbara Gaffin             Deborah Sosin

Managing Director         Editor, E-Notes