Founded and directed by Matthew Lazar, the Zamir Choral Foundation (ZCF) is the driving force for sustaining and elevating the Jewish choral tradition in North America. ZCF is the center of a growing network, sponsoring programs, concerts, workshops, festivals and other activities that raise musical standards, and expand the knowledge of and appreciation for Jewish choral music. ZCF’s core programs include:
Zamir Chorale - Founded in 1960, the choir has won acclaim for its superior performances, encompassing the full spectrum of 4 centuries of Jewish choral repertoire. It has commissioned and premiered works by North American and Israeli composers and has appeared with Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Daniel Barenboim and Elie Wiesel.
The North American Jewish Choral Festival is the premiere Jewish choral event. Held each summer since 1990, the Festival features five days of intensive workshops, study, performances, concerts, with hundreds of amateur and professional singers, conductors, educators, cantors and lovers of Jewish music from across North America and beyond.
The Mandell Rosen Fund for New Music supports ZCF’s commissioning activities, specifically the composition of new works that are premiered by ZCF ensembles, which become part of the growing Jewish choral repertoire available to choirs worldwide. Twenty-one commissions, including 4 by Yehezkel Braun, Israel prize winner, have been produced through The Mandell Rosen Fund, enriching Zamir’s library of modern choral compositions and the choral repertoire around the world.
Zamir Noded - ZCF’s newest ensemble provides a high-level musical opportunity for young adults aged 18-30 to rehearse and perform high level Jewish choral music. Noded draws singers from across the tri-state area and beyond.
Performance Missions to Israel - Since 1967 ZCF has regularly led missions to Israel that included musical programs, touring, and interacting with the citizens of Israel. Zamir ensembles have performed in major concert halls and for residents in a variety of settings, including Beit Levinstein (for injured soldiers), Yad L’Kashish (for the elderly), and the Shalva Center (for children with developmental disabilities, and their families) . The Zamir Choral Foundation is especially proud to have taken 5 missions to Israel at the height of the second Intifada, when tourism was at an all-time low. Most recently, Zamir led a mission to Israel in August 2018 to celebrate Israel at 70, and in August 2023 to celebrate Israel at 75, continuing Zamir's goal of fostering bonds of friendship and support between the North American Jewish community and her brothers and sisters in the Jewish state.