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.
Zamir is a chorus made up of amateur singers. In fact, amateurs make up nearly all choruses in America. But what do we mean by “amateur”? For many people, the word “amateurish” implies a low level of competence. But, actually, the word derives from the French (and ultimately the Latin) word for “lover.”
Both amateurs and professionals love the challenge of performance, the thrill of being on stage, and an appreciative audience. We know that amateur choral singing is a serious leisure activity, involving significant time and effort spent in and out of rehearsals and concerts. And studies show that most amateur choral singers take enormous pride in their ensemble and strive to achieve professional standards.
Some might ask why amateurs choose to make such a commitment without earning a penny! Because they love it. And because they reap an abundance of rewards: self-enrichment, self-expression, feelings of accomplishment, deep musical gratification, sharing in a creative goal, and a sense of belonging to a community of like-minded people. In the words of one of my favorite conductors, Robert Shaw, “To be an amateur artist means, I suppose, to be unwilling or unable to set a price upon the effort and love which attends the creation of beauty.”
Although Zamir carries the label of “amateur,” we are proud that many of our members are trained musicians with vast choral experience. Others have achieved their talented status without formal training. But we all share our devotion to Zamir’s unique programming, and we look forward to bringing it to you in person in the near future.
Want to read more about this subject? Please see “Symphonic Choirs: Understanding the Borders of Professionalism,” by Rosalynd Smith, in Chorus and Community, Karen Ahlquist, editor.
This September 11 marked 20 years since the shocking tragedy of 2001. It happened on a Tuesday morning, and we had to decide whether to have our rehearsal that evening. A quick survey (via a phone chain—no email!) yielded near unanimous sentiment that we needed to be together with our Zamir family and sing. Hebrew College was closed because of security concerns, but our friends at Trinity Parish Church in Newton opened their doors to us.
To honor the moment, I wrote an arrangement of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” We sang “HaZamir,” our anthem. And, ironically, that night we began rehearsing Verdi’s stirring “Va, pensiero,”from the opera Nabucco, which includes the haunting lines, “Greet the banks of the Jordan and Zion's toppled towers. Oh my homeland, so lovely and so lost! Oh memory, so dear and so dead!” Together, we mourned the incalculable losses; we rose above the fear and the horror and asserted that there was still beauty and harmony in the world.
One Final Musing
There’s an inspiring line in Psalm 27, which many of us have been reciting in preparation for the High Holidays: “And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, … I will sing and make music to the Lord.” We in Zamir will lift our (masked) heads above this viral enemy, and we will sing and we will make music!
Welcome Our New Singers and Conducting Interns
A hearty welcome to our two new members for the 2021-22 season: soprano Carolina Cooper and alto Rachael Murray.
Our 2020-21 assistant conductor, Daniel Mahoney, will be relocating to London, England. Thank you for your wonderful contribution to our community and best of luck. We are fortunate to have the very able Andrew Mattfeld rejoining us in that role. Welcome back!
Meet the Conducting Interns
We are delighted to welcome Madeline Lemberg, who double majored in music and philosophy at Yale University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. While there, she served as student conductor and alto section leader for the Yale Glee Club; music director for Yale's Jewish choir, Magevet; and assistant conductor of a small chamber orchestra. Since graduating, she has assistant conducted the Greater New Haven Community Choir and participated in conducting master classes with Matthew Lazar. She currently works as a Strategy and Operations Analyst at HubSpot.
Welcome back to Nicole Callum, whose tenure as intern was postponed as a result of the pandemic. Nicole earned her bachelor’s degree in music studies and master’s degree in music education at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. She is currently an Elementary Music Specialist for Braintree Public Schools. Her K-5 students enjoy singing, playing instruments, expressively moving, and learning about music history. She is thrilled to return to Zamir Chorale for her own musical enjoyment!
Keep in touch! We love hearing from our friends all over the world! May 5782 be filled with peace, sweetness, and good health for all.
Shanah Tovah! We hope you are celebrating the holidays safely, meaningfully, and musically, whether in person or virtually. We’re back in action at last, resuming rehearsals at Temple Reyim in preparation for our upcoming concerts. We’ll also be sending out our popular Musical Messages and information about Zoominars, including a new series, “A Choral Rainbow.” In this issue, catch up on the latest and enjoy Josh Jacobson’s Musing, with two bonus Musings to kick off our 53rd season.
Save these dates!
Thursday, December 23, 2021, 7:30 pm, Temple Emanuel in Newton. Gala concert with Zamir orchestra and Cantor Elias Rosemberg joining us for many old and recent favorites. The program will include Machtenberg’s “Shehecheyonu,” Bloch’s “Kedushah” (from the Sacred Service), Jagoda’s “Ocho Kandelikas,” and a medley of melodies by Debbie Friedman arranged by Jeremiah Klarman (pictured). Tickets will be available through Temple Emanuel later this year.
Voices of Freedom: Sunday, April 3, 2022, 3:00 pm, Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture. For this multicultural event, we will be joined by André DeQuadros’s Voices 21C and Dennis Slaughter’s Boston Community Gospel Choir.
A Better World, תקון עולם: Thursday, May 26, 7:30 pm, at Temple Emanuel. A special concert to honor Larry and Jill Sandberg, featuring Randall Thompson’s The Peaceable Kingdom and the American premiere of Yehezkel Braun’s Vehayah Be’akharit Hayamim.
Also: Members of Zamir will be joining Julia Zavadsky’s Nashira Choir of Philadelphia for a demonstration of Jewish music at the ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) convention, to be held in Boston on February 11.
Musical Messages to Be Continued: For those of you who can’t attend our upcoming concerts in person, good news! Not only will we be offering in-person concerts, but we aim to continue sending out our popular Musical Messages and hosting occasional Zoominars on a variety of subjects, including exciting programs featuring choral music by other diverse groups.
A new online series
This season, given that we've seen an alarming rise in racism, antisemitism, and other forms of prejudice, we are even more committed to using our resources to expose our audiences (and ourselves) to music representing different cultures, ethnicities, and ways of thinking. With that in mind, we will present an online series called "A Choral Rainbow," featuring video performances and conversations with the conductors of choruses from diverse communities.
In addition to our own chorale, representing Jewish traditions, we expect to include choruses representing LGBTQ+, Hispanic, Asian, Indigenous, African American, Arab, and homeless communities.
The first program will be held in November and will include the Jerusalem Youth Chorus(JYC), Micah Hendler, conductor; and Coro Allegro, David Hodgkins, conductor. The JYC is a choral and dialogue program for Palestinian and Israeli youth in Jerusalem.
Coro Allegro is Boston's award-winning LGBTQ+ and allied classical chorus.
Watch your email for details!
Miss any of our weekly Musical Messages or Zoominars that we produced during the pandemic? Visit our website to watch!
Help Zamir continue to bring the joy of Jewish music to homes around the world!
Have you checked out Zamir's choral music resource website:
Created as part of Zamir's 50th- anniversary initiatives, JewishChoralMusic.com provides a wide variety of Jewish traditions and experiences. We invite you to use this website as a resource to find material for your choir.