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SPRING 2017 
Dear Friends of Zamir,

Springtime greetings to our Zamir family around the world! We hope this finds you well and enjoying another change of season. Our concert season isn't over yet--we're gearing up for our exciting June finale, "awePsalm," featuring the premiere of honoree Robert Snyder's setting of Psalm 1; and a performance of Bernstein's beloved Chichester Psalms, with full orchestra. Read about Leonard Bernstein and Chichester in Josh Jacobson's "Musings," below. We wish you all a Happy Passover and bountiful spring season!

In each issue of E-Notes, Artistic D irector Joshua Jacobson offers his unique insights and experiences as a world-renowned scholar, composer, conductor, and influential teacher of Jewish music.
Leonard Bernstein was a local boy, b orn in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on August 25, 1918, to Sam and Jennie Bernstein, Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. Lenny's family moved frequently--from Lawrence to Mattapan, 
Josh Jacobson
then Allston, Roxbury, and
Newton. Summers were spent at the family home on a lake in Sharon.
Bernstein was a musical prodigy. As a child, he loved to play the piano and organize impromptu concerts and even musicals and operas, featuring himself, naturally, as the star, and with his family and friends taking the supporting roles.
Bernstein said that the first time he heard great music was as a child, listening to the organ, cantor, and choir at Congregation Mishkan Tefila,
"How did I know he would grow up to become Leonard Bernstein?" 
--Sam Bernstein, Leonard's father
under the direction of Solomon Braslavsky. He also attended Hebrew School at Mishkan Tefila and celebrated his bar mitzvah there.
His father, Sam, came from a long line of rabbis; Sam himself was deeply involved in the study of Jewish texts, especially the Talmud. But while his passion was Talmud, his work was the beauty supply business: The Sam Bernstein Hair Company. Naturally, Sam wanted Lenny to go into the family business or, if not that, then he should be a rabbi. He simply couldn't understand his son's interest in music. Years later, in an interview, Sam was asked why he discouraged his son from pursuing a career in music. He replied, "How did I know he would grow up to become Leonard Bernstein?"
In 1948, Bernstein and choreographer
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Jerome Robbins were working on a musical that was to be called East Side Story--"a modern version of Romeo and Juliet set in the slums at the coincidence of Easter-Passover celebrations. Feelings run high between Jews and Catholics. Juliet is Jewish. Street brawls, double death--it all fi
ts." Well, we know what happened to that idea!
In 1957, just after West Side Story premiered, Bernstein was named Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, the first American-born music director of any major symphony orchestra. Bernstein was a great conductor, but he was also a great and devoted teacher (many of us remember his " Young People's Concerts " on CBS television), a brilliant concert pianist, and a successful composer of both Broadway and "classical" music.
Bernstein also strongly identified Jewishly and was a passionate supporter of Israel. He was a frequent visitor to Israel, guest conducting the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Many of his compositions have Jewish content, including his Jeremiah and Kaddish symphonies; settings of the prayers Hashkivenu and Yigdal; arrangements of Israeli songs "Simhu Na" and "Reena"; a piano suite entitled Four Sabras; the Dybbuk ballet; a chamber work entitled Hallil; and, of course, the Chichester Psalms.   West Side Story
In 1965 , Bernstein took a sabbatical from the New York Philharmonic to concentrate on composing. He tried writing another musical. He tried composing in idioms considered to be cutting edge for "classical music" in 1965. But nothing came of it. "I am suddenly a composer without a project, with half that golden sabbatical down the drain ," he wrote. But he had another project up his sleeve.
On December 10, 1963, he had received a letter from the Very Reverend Walter Hussey (1909-1985), dean of the cathedral in Chichester, England. Thus began a lively and illuminating exchange of letters back and forth across the Atlantic over a period of many months. For space reasons, we are posting the text of these wonderful letters on the Zamir website, here
As his sabbatical was coming to an end, with the completion of Chichester Psalms, Bernstein wrote an essay and a poem that was published in the New York Times on Sunday, October 24, 1965:
For hours on end I brooded and mused
On materiae musicae, used and abused;
on aspects of unconventionality,
Over the death in our time of tonality, . . .
Pieces for nattering clucking sopranos
With squadrons of vibraphones, fleets of pianos
played with the forearms, the fists and the palms
-- and then I came up with the Chichester Psalms.
These psalms are a simple and modest affair,
Tonal and tuneful and somewhat square,
Certain to sicken a stout John Cager
With its tonics and triads in E-flat major.
But there it stands -- the result of my pondering,
Two long months of avant-garde wandering --
My youngest child, old-fashioned and sweet.
And he stands on his own two tonal feet.
chichester psalms image Chichester Psalms may be the most frequently performed choral/orchestral work of the 20 th century. Its three movements progress from joyous celebration, to the conflict between purity and aggression, to humility and peace. Zamir is delighted to be bringing this beloved work back to our audience.
Sayings of Maestro Bernstein: 
" This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."
"A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future."
"It is the artists of the world, the feelers and thinkers, who will ultimately save us; who can articulate, educate, defy, insist, sing and shout the big dreams."
Josh Jacobson and Eleanor Epstein to Be Honored at NAJCF
Artistic Director Joshua Jacobson 
Eleanor Epstein
and Zemer Chai conductor Eleanor Epstein will be presented with the Hallel V'Zimrah Award "
for their dedication to Jewish choral music and for their leadership in promoting excellence," in a special ceremony at the North American Jewish Choral Festival in July. Both Josh and Eleanor have led NAJCF classes and performances since the festival debuted in 1990 under the direction of the New York Zamir Chorale's conductor and NAJCF director Matthew Lazar. Past honorees include Yehezkel Braun, Elie Wiesel, Theodore Bikel, David Burger, Marsha Bryan Edelman, and others. For more, visit the Zamir Choral Foundation.
Jacobson Speaks at MFA on Lodz Ghetto Exhibit
DVD In other news, on March 20, Josh Jacobson participated on a panel with the curators at a pre-opening of a new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, "Memories Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross," which will be at the MFA through July 30.

"I spoke about Zamir's connection to Lodz and our visit there in 1999," Josh reported. "And I spoke about the amazing butterfly that came to visit us in the Lodz Jewish cemetery as we were singing 'Makh Tsu di Eygelekh.'" Josh is referring to a moment captured in the documentary film about our tour of Eastern Europe called Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland, in which a butterfly lights on his shoulder (at 2:19) and remains there for an inexplicably long time. Click this link to watch the video. 
PsalmSensation-al on the Cape

On March 19, Zamir joined forces with the Falmouth Chorale for a rousing concert, "PsalmSensation," at Falmouth's Lawrence School, featuring texts from the Hebrew Bible. The Falmouth Chorale's
Falmouth Chorale
Chamber Singers, under the direction of John Yankee, performed works by Handel and Mendelssohn. Zamir's solo set included works by Schiller, Rossi, and Klarman. Both choruses presented Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, with boy soprano San Higgins, conducted by Mr. Yankee. The joint set also included Thompson's "The Last Words of David" and Price's "Joyful Noise." Over 120 singers ended the evening fanned out in the aisles for Rutter's "The Lord Bless You."
Earlier in the week, on March 14, Josh Jacobson presented a pre-concert lecture at the Falmouth Jewish Congregation Blanche and Joel Seifer Community Center. Maestro Jacobson discussed how the Psalms may have originally been performed in ancient Israel and offered backstories on pieces from the concert.

Listen here to a pre-concert radio interview with Mindy Todd, who speaks with Jacobson and Yankee about their collaboration.

Thank you to all our Falmouth friends for a wonderful, enlightening community experience!  
Songs for Seniors
Zamir at HSL 2011 On February 5, Zamir performed our annual concert for the residents at Hebrew SeniorLife in Roslindale. The program included excerpts from Mendelssohn's Elijah, a stirring setting of Irving Berlin's "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor," and Emmett Price's gospel piece, "Joyful Noise," along with familiar Israeli and Yiddish tunes.
Betty Bauman, Melanie Blatt, Jacob Harris, Devin Lawrence, and Cantor Louise Treitman took turns at the podium. The Chorale walked out into the audience in a musical embrace for our now-traditional final selection, John Rutter's stirring "The Lord Bless You." 
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