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Josh Jacobson's Musings
Upcoming Concerts
Alumni Reunion in Jerusalem
Fall Roundup

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Alumni Reunion in Jerusalem
On the Air
On December 9, Sirius XM Radio aired "Candles Flashing in the Night," from Zamir's  Lights CD in celebration of Chanukah. We're always delighted to know that Jewish choral music is bouncing off the satellites and into people's homes.
Esther Herlitz Wins Israel Prize
"Divine Majesty" CD on Sale
Fun Fotos
WINTER 2016 
Dear Friends of Zamir,
Happy 2016 to you and your families! After a busy and successful series of fall concerts, including our first-ever live webcast, we are getting ready for spring already. Read all about it here, and be sure to save the date for our encore performance of "Divine Majesty" on Thursday, April 14, at Emmanuel Church in Boston; and our June tribute to Yehezkel Braun. Even in the midst of troubled, uncertain times and wintry days, music always has the power to bring us together in community. We hope this winter brings you much warmth, love, and beautiful music! 
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.
Random thoughts while flying back from Berlin to Boston: I've been here for four days, participating in the fifth annual Louis Lewandowski
Josh Jacobson
Festival. As our loyal readers 
know, this 
international choral festival is named for that great 19th-century composer and conductor of synagogue music in Berlin. Zamir has performed--by invitation--at the first and fourth festivals. And now, as a member of the festival board, I attend every year.

Berlin is a magnificent city, especially at this time of year--although with temperatures in the fifties, Santa and his decorations seemed a bit out of place. I was impressed and heartened hearing speeches by prominent politicians, stressing Germany's commitment to supporting the renascent Jewish community, fighting anti-Semitism, and maintaining warm relations with the state of Israel.
The festival began with a concert by eight cantors. While they were all quite talented, the standouts were two recent graduates from Berlin's Geiger Seminary: Israeli-born Aviv Weinberg, who serves in Berlin; and Argentinian-born Isidoro Abramowicz, who is now employed in Stockholm.
JJ in front of LL sign
Josh in front of Lewandowski poster
On Friday night we attended services at the beautiful Pestalozzistrasse Synagogue. I still remember this synagogue from my first visit to Berlin, when I was thrilled to attend an all-Lewandowski service, with an excellent professional cantor--the incomparable Isaac Sheffer--a professional choir, and an organ. On Saturday evening each choir had the opportunity to perform in various venues throughout the city. Particularly impressive was the inclusive nature of the festival--Jews of many denominations sitting together, talking together, singing together in beautiful harmony.
On Sunday morning the singers had the option of attending several educational programs. Prof. Eli Schleifer lectured on the Eastern European choir synagogue (Chorshul), which was the theme of this year's festival. Prof. Tina Frühauf spoke about Cantor David Nowakowski and the Odessa Chorshul. And I spoke about the development of secular Jewish choirs in Eastern Europe and the cross-fertilization between them and the synagogue choirs.
JJ Berlin 2015 flowers
L -R: Prof. Tina Frühauf, Regina Yantian, 
Cantor Isaac Sheffer, Josh 
Sunday evening was the grand concert, featuring all the choirs--The Jerusalem Cantors' choir; The Moscow Male Jewish Cappella; The London Cantorial Singers; Vocaliza Women's Choir of Tel Aviv; the Pestalozzistrasse Synagogue Youth Choir; and our host choir, the Synagogue Ensemble Berlin. I was particularly moved by the youth choir--it was not only their sweet singing, but also the fact of what they represent--the future of the Jewish community in Berlin.

JJ with colleagues Berlin 2015
 Josh, Cantor Aviv Weinberg and Cantor Isidoro Abramowicz 
Much credit goes to the amazing founder and prime mover of the festival, Nils Busch-Petersen, whose indefatigable efforts and connections in the worlds of politics and commerce have kept this festival alive. Kudos also to the excellent work by artistic director Regina Yantian and administrator Carolyn Naumann.
Before we left, the board of advisors met to solidify plans for the sixth festival in December 2016, when we will shine the spotlight on Salamone Rossi and other Jewish composers of the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Stay tuned.
Thursday, February 11, 2016 , 5:00 pm: Church of the Covenant, 67 Newbury St, Boston: As part of this year's American Choral Director's Association Convention, Zamir will perform a program entitled "Psalms." (Sorry, this concert is not open to the public, but we hope to see all of our ACDA friends there!)

Thursday, 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. Ticket information will be available on Zamir's website at the end of January. The "Divine Majesty" series is made possible by an anonymous underwriter, in memory of Mary Wolfman Epstein and Cantor Barney Mould.

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, and of Stanley Sperber, founder of the New York Zamir Chorale (see Fun Fotos). For ticket information, contact Beth Elohim
Sunday and Monday, June 5 & 6 , 7:30 pm,
Josh Jacobson and Yehezkel Braun
Josh with Yehezkel Braun
Spring Concert, Slosberg Recital Hall, Brandeis University, Waltham: For our season finale, we offer "Capture the Spirit of Israel in Song: A Tribute to Israeli Composer Yehezkel Braun ," our dear friend who passed away in 2014. Stay tuned for ticket information in our spring issue.
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. 
A Sho in Gan Eden

This year's annual Hanukkah Happens concert at Temple Emanuel in Newton celebrated highlights of the Yiddish choral repertoire before an enthusiastic audience, many of whom grew up speaking the language and singing the tunes. Hazzan Elias Rosemberg joined the Chorale and served as the evening's featured soloist for several pieces, including "Oygn" and "A Nign."

The program, narrated by Josh Jacobson and Sharon Shore, offered a little bit for everyone: from the popular "Dona, Dona" and "Der Rebbe" to "Abi Gezint" and "Sheyn Vi Di Levoneh." The women held the audience rapt during "I Lie," a contemporary a cappella piece by David Lang. The men shone in a stirring rendition of "Papir Is Dokh Vaiss." For a surprise encore, the group donned appropriate baseball caps (we won't say which team...), while singing "Nem Mikh Mit Tsu Der Bal Geym," a Yiddish version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," with Hazzan Rosemberg soloing. Hats off to the Music Committee at Temple Emanuel for once again hosting this annual event. 

"A Light Through the Ages" at Emmanuel Church 
On Sunday, December 6, Zamir was delighted to participate in the annual "A Light Through the Ages" Hanukkah celebration, held at Emmanuel Church in Boston, created and hosted by Rabbi Howard Berman, of the Central Reform Temple. The program included narration recounting events in Jewish history, particularly the story of the Maccabees. At the end, audience members participated in a candle-lighting ceremony, which illuminated the stunning sanctuary. Especially poignant, in light of recent world events, was the verse, "Yours the message cheering, that the time is nearing, which will see people free, tyrants disappearing," reminding all present of the blessings of freedom and justice. 

Live from Newton! It's "Divine Majesty."
In a first for the Zamir Chorale of
L-R: Josh Jacobson, Devin Lawrence, Kyler Taustin, Steve Ebstein; Photo by Mickey Goldin
Boston, "Divine Majesty: A Glorious Revival of 19th-Century Synagogue Music," was live-streamed over the Internet from Temple Shalom in Newton on November 17.
Ticket orders for the free concert had long been filled, with a waiting list. The program featured Torah services by synagogue masters Louis Lewandowski, Salomon Sulzer, and Samuel Naumbourg, with Cantor Halpern, Cantor Brian Mayer, and boy soprano Elias Seidman ably serving as soloists. After the concert many in the audience stayed for a "talk-back" with Zamir's conductor, soloists, and organist Ed Swanborn.
One of the nearly 600 Internet listeners that evening was Zamir alumnus Jack Kahn, and his wife, Diana, who wrote: " It was so exciting to be able to tune in to the performance from our house in Miami and feel like we were really in Temple Shalom in the audience." And from Dr. Eric Friedland, a longtime Zamir fan from Dayton, Ohio: " My gratitude remains for the time I was able to watch online your fine program on the German Jewish composers of liturgical music." See "Upcoming Concerts" for information about our encore presentation of "Divine Majesty" in April. 
As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends from around the world.  Stay warm, stay dry, and be well this winter, wherever you are. See you in the spring!
Barbara Gaffin              Deborah Sosin
Managing Director         Editor, E-Notes