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HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir to Perform at Carnegie Hall This Spring

HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir will perform at Carnegie Hall, New York City, on Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 2:30pm. The gala concert features 385 singers from cities across America and Israel.

Now celebrating its 23nd anniversary, HaZamir is a project of the Zamir Choral Foundation, the only international organization dedicated to using Jewish choral music as a vehicle to foster Jewish identity, pluralistic community and engagement. A remarkable achievement in both music and education, HaZamir draws together a network of twenty-five American chapters and six Israeli chapters. Each chapter teaches its singers throughout the year a shared repertoire of classical and contemporary Jewish choral music.

"HaZamir is exploding in the States and in Israel. In the past two years alone, we have added nine new chapters, with more, ready to launch next year." says HaZamir Director, Vivian Lazar, "There is clearly a desire and appreciation for excellence among young Jewish teens. HaZamir provides a safe, environment where young American and Israeli teens from different backgrounds, can aspire to great musical achievement while building a peer community of musical and lay leaders."

During the concert, Maestro Matthew Lazar, the founder and director of the Zamir ChoralFoundation, shares the stage with conductors from HaZamir's thirty-one chapters. The concert includes music from both the U.S.and Israel including settings of traditional and more contemporary texts. The program displays the high caliber and variety of Jewish music available in the 21st century and also demonstrates the commitment and discipline of the singers, who master a demanding repertoire and learn about their heritage in the process. The concert boasts a dazzling array of choral arrangements -- from soaring, large-scale works sung by the entire choir, to smaller ensembles, to demanding solos, all of which seamlessly blend singers from the different chapters, along with over sixtyalumni.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein will receive the Zamir Choral Foundation's Kinor David Award. Rabbi Lookstein retired this year as the Rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, where he has been Rabbi since 1958; he also this year became Principal Emeritus of the Ramaz School, where he has been Principal since 1966. Rabbi Lookstein has been supporting the Jewish choral arts since he attended Camp Massad. When the Massad Choral Group became the Zamir Chorale in the 1960s, and later evolved into the Zamir Choral Foundation, Rabbi Lookstein remained an active supporter. Throughout the last decades, Rabbi Lookstein has been a strong voice for mixed choral singing at Ramaz and throughout the Jewish community.

This year's concert features the world premiere of a setting of Psalm 96, by Samuel Dylan Rosner, a member of the HaZamir Westchester chapter since the age of twelve. Rosner who is now seventeen, and is off to Harvard next year, is remarkably the youngest composer to have his work performed by HaZamir. Rosner will accompany the choir at the piano at this Carnegie Hall premiere.

The concert also features several contemporary selections linked to a Passover theme, as well as music reflecting HaZamir's strong commitment to the State of Israel and her defenders. In addition to selections by the elite HaZamir Chamber Choir, the program will also feature a performance by the combined voices of HaZamir Israel in an arrangement by Lior Ben-Shlush, conductor of HaZamir K'far Saba

During a three-day retreat and shared Shabbat leading up to the concert, the singers from all the chapters meet for intensive rehearsals and social events. The sixty-five Israeli singers arrive several days prior to the April 3rd concert to acquaint themselves with the American Jewish community and to serve as cultural ambassadors for Israel. They come from several communities in Israel: Ashkelon, Beit Shean, Jerusalem, Karmiel-Misgav, Kfar Saba and Ofakim-Merchavim. They are hosted by HaZamir sister chapters in in Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Bergen County, and Westchester.

This year's chairs are Elena and Jay Lefkowitz. "We are thrilled to be a part of this amazing concert, as both HaZamir alumni parents and members of Rabbi Lookstein's KJ community," said Elena Lefkowitz. "It is a blending of two worlds that we call home. We celebrate the hard work and dedication of these gifted young singers and their conductors, and especially our friend, Matthew Lazar, without whom, none of this would exist. And we honor our beloved rabbi and mentor, Haskel Lookstein, on the occasion of his retirement."

For sponsorship and ticket information visit WWW.HAZAMIRGALACONCERT.ORG.

The Zamir Choral Foundation, created by Maestro Matthew Lazar, promotes Jewish choral music as a vehicle to enhance Jewish culture and continuity. His vision goes beyond the activities of any single choir to one that inspires Jewish life and literacy while fostering positive identity and community; it is a vision of a choral community that transcends generational, denominational, geographic and political boundaries. The only foundation of its kind devoted exclusively to Jewish choral music, the Zamir Choral Foundation is the nucleus of an ever- growing network of choirs, singers, new compositions and musical events. Other programs of the Foundation are the annual North American Jewish Choral Festival, the Zamir Chorale and Zamir Noded, our most recent ensemble for college and post-college aged singers. Each year, the Zamir Choral Foundation presents the Kinor David Award to an individual or group of individuals whose actions have profoundly helped the Foundation further its mission of unifying the Jewish people through choral music.

Directed by Vivian Lazar, HaZamir is a flourishing Jewish youth movement that builds and sustains Jewish community, identity and literacy through Jewish choral music. HaZamir engages more than 400 Jewish teens from across the U.S. and Israel. HaZamirniks aspire to the highest standard of artistic expression and enjoy doing so in a nurturing Jewish environment. The HaZamir program includes musical retreats, an annual international concert, a leadership development track, chamber choir ensemble, opportunities for college credit and a Parents Council. HaZamir connects Jewish teens in the U.S. and Israel to their heritage and heart, building a strong, informed and harmonious Jewish future.

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