The Zamir Choral Foundation (ZCF), founded and directed by Matthew Lazar, is the visionary, leading force in the Jewish world for sustaining and fostering the Jewish choral tradition. ZCF seeds the formation of Jewish choirs across North America; commissions new works of music; convenes thousands of singers, choral enthusiasts, top conductors, scholars and ensembles annually, cultivates relationships with Israeli singers and audiences, trains the next generation of choral singers and conductors and presents brilliant and beautifully sung performances in the great halls of New York, Israel and cities across the US.
The main programs of the Zamir Choral Foundation include:
HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir
HaZamir is a Jewish musical youth movement that operates through a network of 39 choral chapters (29 in the US and 10 in Israel), engaging 400 Jewish teens who meet weekly to practice high-level Jewish choral music. HaZamir brings together teens from all streams of Jewish life ranging from non-affiliated to Orthodox. The rigorous curriculum demands advanced levels of engagement and promotes an aspiration to the highest musical standards. HaZamir builds an inclusive community across denominations, develops future Jewish leaders, and provides a platform for presenting contemporary and classic Jewish choral music, as well as to prepare the next generation of Jewish choral artists and leaders.
North American Jewish Choral Festival
Held each summer since 1990, the North American Jewish Choral Festival is the premiere Jewish choral event anywhere. It brings together singers and choirs from across North America and beyond with a renowned teaching staff of conductors, composers and other music professionals to sing, learn and share the joy of Jewish music. The Festival features five days of intensive workshops, study, performances, concerts, fun and friendship. Participants take part in daily community sings and “instant ensembles”, led by acclaimed conductors, which rehearse for four days and perform at a gala closing concert; evening concerts feature outstanding vocal ensembles, choruses and soloists. Workshops range from vocal and conducting techniques to the history of Jewish music and ritual. The Festival attracts amateur singers, professional soloists, cantors, conductors, educators and lovers of Jewish music for an unforgettable experience.
Founded in 1960 by Stanley Sperber and directed by Matthew Lazar since 1972, the Zamir Chorale is the leading voice of the Jewish Choral movement. The choir has won international acclaim for its superior performances, encompassing the full spectrum of four centuries and more of Jewish choral repertoire. It has commissioned and premiered works by contemporary North American and Israeli composers and has collaborated with music super stars such as Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, and Daniel Barenboim in choral/orchestral performances. The Chorale has appeared with a diverse array of personalities including Elie Wiesel, Naomi Shemer, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Tom Chapin, Richie Havens, Danny Kaye, Theodore Bikel, Hershel Bernardi and Shoshana Damari. During its more than 50 years of creating Jewish harmony, the Zamir Chorale has thrilled tens of thousands and has set the standard for Jewish choral music in North America.
Zamir Noded is the newest initiative of the Zamir Choral Foundation, created to provide a high level musical opportunity for young adults aged 18-30 to sing in a Jewish choir with like-minded peers. Zamir Noded is conducted by Maestro Matthew Lazar and has drawn singers from throughout the tri-State area and beyond, including alumni of HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir and others who are attracted to this unique ensemble.
The Jeanne & Irwin Mandell Fund for New Music
Established by Phyllis and Richard Rosen, the Fund provides support for the commissioning activities of the Zamir Choral Foundation, and annually funds the composition of new works that are premiered by ensembles associated with the Zamir Choral Foundation. Twenty-seven original pieces have been commissioned through the fund and have become part of the growing Jewish choral repertoire available to choirs worldwide.
Zamir Choral Missions to Israel
Since 1967 the Zamir Choral Foundation has regularly led mission to Israel that included musical programs, touring, and interacting with the citizens of Israel. In addition to encounters with Israeli choirs and other musicians, Zamir ensembles have performed in major concert halls, and for residents in a variety of settings, including programs for the elderly and at community centers across the country. The Zamir Choral Foundation is especially proud to have taken 3 missions to Israel in 2002-2003, at the height of the second Intifada, when tourism was at an all-time low, and when Zamir’s presence fostered bonds of friendship and support between the North American Jewish community and her brothers and sisters in the Jewish state. Zamir’s choral missions also include concert tours in celebration of major milestones in Israeli history. A mission is planned for 2018 in honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary.
HaZamir Preparatory Program , the first Jewish choral preparatory program for 7th and 8th graders, “HaZa-Prep” is designed to teach choral skills, music education, voice production and proper Hebrew pronunciation in an environment that is fun and educational.
Zamir Choral Conductor Fellowship trains talented HaZamir seniors, HaZamir alumni and other musically eligible young people in the art of conducting and specifically in the Jewish choral art.