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.
A few months ago, Ronda and I were in Israel and visited a new museum in Tel Aviv. ANU--Museum of the Jewish People has replaced the old Jewish Diaspora Museum, and it is fabulous. There are three huge floors housing the most up-to-date high-tech exhibits. We barely had time to explore two of the three.
One of the exhibits is devoted to Jewish humor. I was intrigued by a sign that read, “A Jewish joke is a joke that no non-Jew understands and that every Jew says he’s already heard.” The quote is not only a definition, it’s an example of Jewish humor in itself.
I began to think about how that quip relates to my definition of Jewish music: “Jewish music is music that has been used by Jews more than by non-Jews and has become associated with Jews.” We might say that Jewish music registers differently with a Jew than it does with a non-Jew. That’s not as funny as the joke definition, but it is similar. A non-Jew listening to a synagogue motet by Salamone Rossi might appreciate it on a purely aesthetic level. But for a Jew, hearing the Hebrew liturgical words adds a whole ’nother dimension.
But wait. There is actually no such thing as “Jewish music.” There are many “Jewish musics,” and Zamir’s mission is to present the vast variety of Jewish musics to our audiences, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Too often we pigeonhole, patronize, and tokenize: “We know what Jews are like. We know what Jewish music is.”
We all have multiple identities, and we make a mistake both when we prejudge and when we paint with too wide a brush. Jewish choral music is everything from Sephardic Romanceros to Yiddish theater songs, Baroque motets, Debbie Friedman’s tunes, Bloch’s Sacred Service, Kurt Weill’s jazzy Kiddush, an Abaduyada “Lekha Dodi,” Lewandowski’s “Halleluyoh,” “Hava Nagila,” and a whole lot more.
Throughout Zamir’s 52 years, even during the pandemic, we have striven to expand the definition of Jewish music. As a result, maybe some non-Jews will have a different idea about Jews and Jewish music, and maybe some Jews will want to experience music they haven’t heard before. It’s a big tent! And that’s no joke.
Audition for Zamir!
Zamir will hold auditions for all voice parts on:
Sunday, September 12,
7:00 to 9:00 pm
at Temple Reyim, 1860 Washington St., Auburndale (Newton).
Auditions are by appointment only and must be scheduled in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please provide your voice part, proof of full COVID vaccination (scanned copy of card), and the best phone number to reach you.
Candidates should have excellent vocal quality, the ability to sight-read music, and previous choral experience. In addition to the audition, candidates are required to attend open rehearsals from 7:15 to 10:00 pm on Tuesday, September 14, and Tuesday, October 5, at Temple Reyim. Rehearsals throughout the year are generally held on Tuesdays at Temple Reyim, from 7:15 to 10:00 pm, from September through early June.
A Note About COVID-19 Safety Guidelines: As COVID restrictions continue to be lifted, and in accordance with the latest guidelines from the CDC, we are looking forward to resuming rehearsals in the fall. To ensure maximum safety, all singers (and all auditioners) are required to submit proof of full vaccination. We look forward to reuniting with one another--and with our audiences--under the “new normal."
Board and Chorus Officers Elected
The following board members were elected for the 2021-22 season:
Gilbert Schiffer, (Chair, pictured)
Peter Finn, (Clerk)
Michael Victor, (Treasurer)
Peter Bronk, Bruce Creditor, Bruce Donoff,
Elyse Friedman, Barbara Gaffin (Managing Director), Josh Jacobson (Artistic Director), Rachel Miller (Chorus President), Dawn Ringel, Jeff Rosenberg, Lawrence E. Sandberg, Robert Snyder
The chorus also held elections for next season. Rachel Miller and Deb Wollner were re-elected as president and vice-president, respectively.
As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends near and far. May you and yours remain safe and healthy this summer. We can’t wait to see you again in the fall!
Greetings! We hope you are safe and well and enjoying some of the freedoms of “post-pandemic” life wherever you are. In this issue, we offer a preview of the 2021-22 season, including an update on live (yes, live!) rehearsals and concerts, and other events in the planning stages. And we’ll take a look back at last spring’s dynamic virtual offerings. In his Musing, Josh Jacobson suggests some new ways of looking at how “Jewish music” is defined.
Save these dates!
Hanukkah Happens:Thursday, December 23, 2021, 7:30 pm, Temple Emanuel in Newton. Gala concert with Zamir orchestra and Cantor Elias Rosemberg joining Zamir for many old and recent favorites.
Voices of Freedom: Sunday, April 3, 2022, 3:00 pm, Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture.
A Better World, תקון עולם: Thursday, May 26, 7:30 pm, Temple Emanuel. A special concert to honor Larry and Jill Sandberg, featuring Randall Thompson’s The Peaceable Kingdom and Yehezkel Braun’s Vehayah Be’akharit Hayamim.
Also: Members of Zamir will be joining Julia Zavadsky’s Nashira Choir of Philadelphia at the ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) convention, to be held in Boston on February 10.
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.
Spring Roundup: Zoominars and
On May 25, our season-ending Zoominar online concert, Part II of “Kolot Nashim: Jewish Music by Women Composers,” hosted by Josh Jacobson and Amy Lieberman, drew an international audience.
The evening included interviews with composers Achinoam Nini (aka Noa), pictured above, with a new performance of her and Mira Awad’s “There Must Be Another Way”; Benjie Ellen Schiller, pictured above left, with a performance of her “Harninu” (Psalm 81); Elena Kats-Chernin (Sydney, Australia), with the U.S. premiere of her setting of Psalm 23; and Kirsten and Ken Lampl (Canberra, Australia), with a performance of their “Dirshu.”
We are grateful for the many supporters who helped to make it happen. Watch the full video here.
On May 4, Josh Jacobson and co-host Cantor David Tilman presented “Leonard Bernstein: The Jewish Side,” a fun, fascinating, and musically wide-ranging foray into Bernstein’s personal history and his Jewish-themed music, including his Jeremiah Symphony, Kaddish Symphony, and so many more. Cantor Tilman, former creative consultant for the Leonard Bernstein Centennial Exhibit mounted by the National Museum of American Jewish History, added captivating anecdotes about working with Maestro Bernstein. Watch here.
On April 6, alumna Cantor Debbie Katchko-Gray, pictured, presented a workshop on the Songs of Prof. Elie Wiesel z”l . At a special event in his office in celebration of his 70th birthday, Wiesel had shared Vizhnitzer melodies from his childhood. Cantor Katchko-Gray was present at that event and had helped lead the sing-along. In this Zoominar, she shared a precious recording of that event that included Wiesel’s voice singing and an in-depth analysis of some of the Yiddish songs and songs from the Holocaust that Wiesel helped to preserve for future generations. Watch here.
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.