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Josh Jacobson's Musings
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Winter Roundup
Zamir Goes Baroque!
Gearing Up for Zamir's 50th

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SPRING 2018 
Dear Friends of Zamir, 
Springtime greetings and Chag Sameach!  Our intrepid singers have forged through the long, stormy winter and are looking forward to several more concerts this season, culminating in our May 23-24 "Zamir Goes Baroque" finale at Brandeis University. In this issue, in addition to our regular roundup and preview of coming attractions, we offer Josh Jacobson's quarterly "Musings," this time on the great Italian Renaissance composer Salamone Rossi, whose work will be featured in May. So settle back and enjoy the latest!
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.
Photo by Andy Weigl
I remember the first time I heard about the composer Salamone Rossi Hebreo of Mantua, Italy. I had had this (mistaken) image of pre-modern Jews cowering in the ghetto, while on the other side of the walls, Christians were doing all those marvelous Renaissance things. Well, it turns out, so were the Jews! Many Jews in northern Italy remained loyal to their heritage and devout in their religious practices, but also delved into the arts and letters of Renaissance humanism. By the mid-16th century, many Jews were employed in the various Italian ducal courts as instrumentalists, composers, actors, and dancing masters.
The most prominent among them was Salamone Rossi Hebreo (c. 1570-c. 1630), a colleague of Monteverdi and Gastoldi, who provided music for the court of Gonzaga in Mantua. Rossi composed many books of Italian love songs (madrigals and canzonets), dances, and trio sonatas. But Rossi also introduced cultural bilingualism into the Jewish liturgy. He composed settings of 33 prayers and had them published in 1622. These polyphonic motets have Hebrew lyrics, and their context is the synagogue worship service. But the musical styles and the convention of notation, and indeed the performative aspect, are all borrowed from the culture of Christian Europe.
Rossi composed many books of Italian love songs, ... dances, and trio sonatas. But Rossi also introduced cultural bilingualism into the Jewish liturgy. 
This was not the beginning of a
new trend. Rossi's collection stands alone and nothing of its scope and quality would appear again until the 19th century. Still, a few other isolated examples of Jewish polyphony during the Baroque period exist. In 1670, the Jews of Provence commissioned Louis Saladin to compose an elaborate cantata that could be performed at the celebration of a brit milah. In 1681 in Venice, the confraternity Shomerim La-Boker commissioned Carlo Grossi to compose a cantata celebrating their good deeds. And in 1744, the Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam commissioned Cristiano Lidarti to compose an oratorio based on the story of Esther for their Purim celebrations.
We are excited to be presenting this rarely heard repertoire in the
Daniel Stepner
intimate acoustic of Brandeis University's Slosberg Recital Hall.  We will be joined by some of Boston's finest musicians, including violinist Daniel Stepner, harpsichordist Edwin Swanborn, countertenor Michael Collver, and choreographers Ken Pierce and Camilla Finley. We look forward to seeing you there! (Tickets available here.)
Sunday, March 25, 2:30 pm, Hebrew SeniorLife, 1200 Centre St, Roslindale:  Zamir will perform its annual free "mitzvah" concert for the residents of Hebrew SeniorLife. Selections will span Yiddish, Israeli, classical, folk, and pop genres, and include works by Yehezkel Braun, Naomi Shemer, Meir Finkelstein, and Irving Berlin. Conducting Intern Luca Antonucci will take a turn at the podium, as will Assistant Conductor Andrew Mattfeld and members Betty Bauman and Devin Lawrence. 
Yom Hazikaron
Tuesday, April 17, 
8:00 pm, Yom Ha-Zikaron 
Commemoration, Temple Israel
477 Longwood Ave, Boston: 
As part of th e Consulate 
General of Israel's annual event honoring Israel's fallen soldiers, Zamir will be performing three pieces: "Ha-Kotel," by Dov Seltzer, commemorating those who lost their lives in the battle for Jerusalem in 1967; "Niga El Ha-Chalom" (Touch the Dream), by Shalom Cha noch; and "Bab El Wad," by Shmuel Fershko and Chaim Gouri, newly arranged by Maestro Jacobson for this concert. The latter piece memorializes those who died in the convoys that helped relieve the siege of Jerusalem in 1947-48. Josh and Zamir will also lead the audience in the singing of "Hatikvah," the Israeli national anthem.  Doors open at 7:00 pm.  For details, contact the Israeli Consulate .

Sunday, April 29, 7:30 pm, Temple Sinai, 50 Sewall Ave, Brookline: We are delighted to be heading to Coolidge Corner for a full-spectrum Zamir concert as part of Temple Sinai's Passover Music Festival. Highlights include music from our "Divine Majesty" program, upcoming Baroque program, and a tribute to Israel's 70th birthday. For details, go to the event website .
Thursday, May 3, 6:30 pm, Gann Academy 333 Forest St, Waltham:  Members of the Zamir Chorale will join singers from Kol Arev in a tribute to Ra bbi  Daniel Lehmann, Hebrew College's outgoing president, at an event celebrating his leadership. 
Wednesday and Thursday, May 23 and May 24, 7:30 pm, Slosberg Recital Hall, Brandeis University, South St, Waltham: Don't miss "Zamir Goes Baroque," our exciting season finale! Zamir will be joined by choreographer Ken Pierce and an awesome instrumental ensemble, led by renowned violinist Daniel Stepner, in a delightful exploration of rarely heard Jewish polyphony from the 17th and early 18th centuries. For tickets and additional information, see sidebar ad. 
As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends near and far. Chag Kasher v'Sameach! Happy Passover and we hope to see you soon! 
Barbara Gaffin           Deborah Sosin        
Managing Director       Editor, E-Notes