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Josh Jacobson's Musings
Upcoming Concerts
Winter Roundup

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Reserve Now for "Divine Majesty" 
Reunion with Cantor Hinda Eisen Labovitz 
in Maryland
Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet: Esther Herlitz
Fun Fotos from the Archives
SPRING 2016 
Dear Friends of Zamir,

Sunny springtime greetings to you! Get out your calendars to mark down a number of upcoming concerts to round out another busy season of the best in Jewish choral music, including a reprise of "Divine Majesty" on April 14 in Boston, and our exciting tribute to Israeli composer Yehezkel Braun on June 5 and 6. Also in this issue, Artistic Director Josh Jacobson reflects on the roots of Braun's musical influences.  May this season bring you peace and health, and may you and yours celebrate a meaningful Passover.
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.
When is a composer just expressing him- or herself? We tend to categorize and pigeonhole the  great creative artists. Bach was a Baroque composer. Debussy? Josh Jacobson Very French! Amy Beach? The
woman composer. Copland? The quintessential American. Ernest Bloch? The great Jewish  composer. But to what extent is musical output influenced by nationality, by religion, by gender,  by era? And to what extent does a composition just reflect the personality of the composer?

Of course the answer to these questions must be: It's not either-or; it's all of the above. Take the  case of Yehezkel Braun, in whose music Zamir is now deeply immersed as we prepare for our  tribute concert in June. Braun was born in Breslau, Germany, in 1922, and was brought to the  land of Israel with his parents when he was two years
Yehezkel Braun
old. But still, he was brought up in a 
German immigrant home. Braun's earliest musical memories were, on the one hand, the  recordings of Italian opera that his father would often play, notably Madame Butterfly and La Bohème;
and, on the other hand, the indigenous singing of Yemenite women who would pass by  his home on their way to work.

Braun studied composition with Alexander Boscovic, who believed that composers should strive  to cultivate an "Israeli" style by consciously incorporating rhythms and melodic motifs borrowed  from traditional Jewish chant. 
Braun was certainly attracted to traditional Jewish melodies; he  collected them and used many of them in his compositions. But he also was attracted to  Gregorian chant, which he studied during sojourns to the Solesmes Monastery in France. He  studied music at the Tel Aviv Academy, from which he graduated in 1953, and then returned to  academia two decades later to study for a bachelor's degree in classics at Tel Aviv University. 
One can certainly hear all of these influences in Braun's music.
Braun...composes horizontally,
conceiving of each voice part as its own
Anyone who sings Braun's music 
can appreciate his love of vocal melodies. Many years ago, Braun told me that he  doesn't compose harmonically, rather he composes "horizontally," conceiving of each voice part as its own melody. And, as Jehoash Hirshberg pointed out in a recent article, Braun never thought about composing while he was composing. Braun wrote, "I gave up on two things: on thinking about music and on thinking what to think and how to think, to compose while thinking. It used to cause me torment and terrible emotional pain. One day I said to myself: the hell with all that, I will write what I hear.... Music is something that either happens or does not."

And for Yehezkel Braun, music
Shir HaShirim
certainly did happen. In his 92 years, he produced an enormous  output of works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo piano, chorus, and solo voice. In his  vocal works, the music flows from the text, expressing it but never overpowering it. His  adherence to principles of classical form makes his music readily understood and appreciated by  all audiences. And his use of melodies and styles extracted from folklore give much of his music  a sense of groundedness. But above all else, Yehezkel Braun's music reflects the personality of  Yehezkel Braun, noble yet humble, gentle but principled, generous and loving. May his memory--and his music--be a blessing.
T hursday, April 14, 7:30 pm (organ prelude at 6:30 pm), Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St, Boston:
Zamir is delighted to reprise its successful "Divine Majesty: A Glorious Revival of 19th-Century Synagogue Music," at the Central Reform Temple of Boston, featuring works by Lewandowski, Sulzer, Naumbourg, Mendelssohn, and more. The "Divine Majesty" series is made possible by an anonymous underwriter, in memory of Mary Wolfman Epstein and Cantor Barney Mould. As a special bonus, Zamir accompanist and organist Edwin Swanborn will play and discuss Lewandowski's "Holiday Preludes" utilizing Emmanuel's magnificent organ. Admission is free but reservations are recommended.

Sunday, May 22, 4:00 pm, Congregation Beth Elohim, 133 Prospect Street, Acton: Zamir will head to the western suburbs for a full-spectrum concert drawn from our far-ranging repertoire, including classical, folk, popular, jazz, and liturgical choral music from eight countries, composed over four centuries. Cantor Sarra Spierer, a Zamir alumna, will join the group as soloist. We'll also be reuniting with the Congregation's Rabbi Lewis Mintz, an old friend of Josh and Zamir. For ticket information, contact Beth Elohim.    
Sunday and Monday, June 5 & 6 , 7:30 pm, Spring Concert, Slosberg Recital Hall, Brandeis University, Waltham:
For our season finale, we offer "The Gentle Spirit of Israel: A Tribute to Israeli Composer Yehezkel Braun," our dear friend who passed away in 2014. The concert is based on a program Zamir performed in March 1982 in the presence of the composer, and in the same venue at Brandeis. Zamir will reprise three works from that event:
Song of Songs Chapter Three, Songs of the Dove and the Lily,
and Festive Horns. In addition, we will perform the American premiere of Hem Ameru (from Mishnah Pirkey Avot, composed for Zamir's 36th anniversary); Halleluyah (from the Hallel Service); Vayimalet Kayin (originally composed for the popular Yarkon Bridge Trio); and Braun's arrangement of four popular Israeli songs, "Shibbolet Ba-Sadeh," "Uri Tsafon," "Ronu Na," and "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav." For tickets, click
Sunday, July 10, evening, North American Jewish Choral Festival, Kerhonkson, NY:  After a year's hiatus, Zamir will return to NY to perform on the opening night of the 27th annual choral festival. Thanks to Mati Lazar, founder and director of the Zamir Choral Foundation, for inviting us once again to join this special gathering of choral musicians from all over the country. For details, visit the Zamir Choral Foundation.  
Singing (and Dancing) at Hebrew SeniorLife 

On February 28, Zamir performed our annual concert for the residents at Hebrew SeniorLife in Roslindale. The program included selections from Zamir's repertoire, including popular Israeli and Yiddish tunes, as well as excerpts from our upcoming Yehezkel Braun tribute. Cantor Louise Treitman, Betty Bauman, and Vera Broekhuysen lent their conducting talents to the occasion. The packed assembly hall (and those in their rooms listening to the live broadcast) especially enjoyed the Yiddish version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." 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." 

Charna Mamlok Westervelt, Zamir alto, wrote this lovely note: "I just wanted to tell you how meaningful yesterday's concert was. After the concert, I had the opportunity to chat with a few of the residents.... One man (the one who popped up and danced during "Alle Brider") said, "You're the best we've had!"

ACDA on Newbury Street 

On February 11, Zamir performed as part of "Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs" at this year's American Choral Director's Association Convention at the Church of the Covenant in Boston. Our collaborators were the Essence of Joy Alumni Singers, directed by Dr. Anthony Leach of Pennsylvania State University. Zamir's set included works by Schiller, Rossi, Osborne, and Lewandowski. The combined choruses were joined by the audience in Nick Page's inspiring "We Pray." This was a wonderful opportunity for Zamir to introduce our unique repertoire to conductors of community, church, and school choruses from the entire Eastern region.
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