The Zamir Choral Foundation, created by Matthew Lazar, promotes choral music as a vehicle to inspire Jewish life, literacy, community, and connection to Israel. The Zamir Choral Foundation is guided by an expansive vision of vibrant Jewish identity across the generational, denominational and political continuums through the study and performance of Jewish music at the highest level of excellence.
Zamir is committed to:
Community: Pluralism and respect are immutable foundational values for us. The only difference that defines us is whether we are sopranos, altos, tenors or basses.
Jewish literacy: Because choral music incorporates text singers learn Jewish history, culture and traditions through the pieces they sing.
Excellence: We work towards the highest level of music education and performance.
Love of Israel: Zamir believes that musical partnerships and face-to-face relationships create friendships that last a lifetime and ensure continued strengthening and support for the Jewish state. Zamir has been going to Israel since 1967 for performance tours and missions, and for the past 15 years HaZamir has created meaningful connections between HaZamir singers in Israel and the United States.
Changing lives: Singing is a source of joy, healing, strength and unity. Unbreakable bonds of friendship are created and a lasting Jewish community is built.
The Massad Choral Group, directed by Stanley Sperber, rehearses at JTS in year 1 in room 203.
The choir’s first album, “Israeli Hootenany” is released.
The choir changes its name to Zamir Chorale (based on a quotation from the Song of Songs, at the suggestion of Moshe Avital). Zamir Chorale participates in the World’s Fair in New York.
Zamir Chorale issues its second album, “A New Song;” Membership grows to over 100 voices.
The Zamir Chorale makes its first trip to Israel, participating in the Zimriyah only a few weeks after the conclusion of the Six Day War. Zamir participates in the Israel Festival singing Handel’s Saul in Caesaria with the Jerusalem Symphony, and singing on Mt Scopus. Zamir Chorale performs at the World’s Fair in Montreal.
The choir issues its third album, “Zamir Chorale”.
The Chorale presents sold-out performances at Town Hall.
Zamir Chorale sings its first concert at Carnegie Hall; The choir takes its second tour to Israel for another Zimriyah appearance and participation in the Israel Festival singing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Zamir Chorale returns to the Zimriyah and sings Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with conductor Daniel Barenboim and the IPO. Zamir records “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” with Danny Kaye. Later that year, Zamir Chorale produces a series of “crisis concerts” to raise money for the beleaguered state during the Yom Kippur war. Zamir Chorale performs Symphony of Psalms with Lukas Foss in Carnegie Hall. At the same concert, Zamir participates in the world premiere of Elie Wiesel’s cantata, Ani Ma’amin with music by Darius Milhaud.
Zamir summer trip to Israel/Zimriyah and performs Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Aida with an all-star cast of soloists, conducted by Maestro Zubin Mehta. Matthew Lazar prepares Chichester Psalms and Kaddish Symphony for Leonard Bernstein with Zamir Chorale.
Zamir presents two performances marking the American Bicentennial in Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall.
Zamir returns to Israel/Zimriyah and participates in the Israel Festival singing Beethoven’s 9th with Carlo Maria Giulini.
Zamir travels to Israel for the Zimriyah.
Zamir celebrates its 20th anniversary with a performance at Alice Tully Hall.
Zamir sings in Alice Tully Hall commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, with guest artist Tovah Feldshuh. Matthew Lazar conducts Chichester Psalms at the Zimriyah.
Zamir’s silver anniversary concert is presented in Lincoln Center with alumni soloist Cantor Alberto Mizrahi and guest conductor Stanley Sperber, founder of the original Zamir Chorale.
Zamir Chorale returns to the Zimriyah. Zamir Chorale participates in the 20th anniversary celebration of Elie Wiesel’s lecture series at the 92nd Street Y. Zamir accompanies Elie Wiesel in his surprise performance of the Vizhnitzer melody for “Ani Ma’amin,” the first time this music has been heard in public.
Matthew Lazar creates the National Jewish Chorale to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in a concert in Lincoln Center.
Matthew Lazar creates the Zamir Choral Foundation to expand Jewish choral activity and to promote Jewish identity beyond the scope of a single choir.
Matthew Lazar establishes the North American Jewish Choral Festival and Conference at the Concord Hotel.
The Zamir Choral Foundation celebrates the 25th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem by presenting the Zamir Chorale and more than 350 additional choral singers of the National Jewish Chorale in a concert at Carnegie Hall with Theodore Bikel, Alberto Mizrahi and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, appearing as soloist and special guest conductor.
Matthew Lazar creates HaZamir: The National Jewish High School Choir as the teen arm of the Foundation.
The Zamir Choral Foundation collaborates with the American Zionist Foundation to celebrate Jerusalem 3000 with a concert at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, featuring performances by Zamir Chorale, HaZamir and special guests Naomi Shemer and Richie Havens. The North American Jewish Choral Festival is convened in Israel and its participants perform with soloists of the Cantors Assembly accompanied by the Ra’anana Symphonette in the Jerusalem Theater, Matthew Lazar, conducting ZCF runs its first HaZamir summer trip to Israel, lasting six weeks; in the Fall, the tour participants record HaZamir’s first CD: “HaZamir: The Next Generation”. Zamir Chorale reprises its performance with Elie Wiesel singing “Ani Ma’amin” as the 92nd St. Y celebrates the 30th anniversary of Elie Wiesel’s lecture series.
The second HaZamir summer tour of Israel.
Zamir takes a summer mission to Israel to celebrate Israel at 50, performing with the American Conference of Cantors and the Ra’anana Symphonette. The Zamir Choral Foundation celebrates Israel’s 50th anniversary with a sold-out concert in Carnegie Hall featuring the Zamir Chorale, HaZamir and iconic Israeli singer Shoshana Damari.
The Zamir Chorale celebrates its 40th anniversary with a concert in Lincoln Center; HaZamir sends its third summer tour to Israel.
Phyllis and Richard Rosen create the Jeanne R. Mandell Fund for New Music (later to become the Mandell Rosen Fund for New Music.) Its first commissions, “Eishet Chayil” by Yehezkel Braun and “Uk’ratem Dror” by Benjie Ellen Schiller, are presented by the Zamir Chorale in a December concert at Merkin Concert Hall. In the midst of the Second Intifada, the Zamir Choral Foundation brings over 100 singers on a Mission to Israel.
ZCF sponsors a second summer Mission to Israel. Zamir Chorale returns to Israel in the Fall for the 3rd mission to Israel in the 2 years of the second Intifada to participate in the 50th anniversary of the Zimriyah. The Zamir Choral Foundation presents the first and only conference and concert celebrating Salamone Rossi: The Man and His Music in Lincoln Center and Merkin Hall.
The North American Jewish Choral Festival celebrates its “Bar Mitzvah” at the Nevele Hotel.
HaZamir becomes the International Jewish Teen Choir when the Zamir Choral Foundation creates its first Israeli chapter in Kfar Saba.
The Zamir Choral Foundation/HaZamir establishes the Teen Leadership Program for HaZamir upper classmen. Zamir Chorale marks its 50th anniversary with a gala weekend celebration culminating in a concert in Carnegie Hall featuring the Zamir Chorale, Zamir alumni and HaZamir.
ZCF sponsors a concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, featuring Zamir Chorale, HaZamir and special guest, Israeli singer and actor, Yehoram Gaon. To celebrate the designation of David Burger as recipient of the Hallel V’Zimrah award at NAJCF, the Zamir Chorale issues “Mizmor L’David,” a CD compilation of Burger’s works.
The Zamir Choral Foundation designates long-time supporters Adina Avery-Grossman and Harman Grossman as the first recipients of the Kinor David Award, conferred in conjunction with the first HaZamir gala concert at Lincoln Center. Matthew Lazar creates Zamir Noded to provide an opportunity for HaZamir graduates and other post high school singers to continue to sing quality Jewish music in a peer community. HaZamir takes American HaZamir singers on a winter tour of Israel. HaZamir presents its first gala concert in Israel.
The North American Jewish Choral Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary at the Hudson Valley Resort.
ZCF establishes HaZaPrep, the first Jewish Preparatory Program for middle school children in North America.
HaZamir’s annual concert at the Metropolitan Opera House is devoted to music celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem. ZCF presents a second concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center with performances by Zamir Chorale, Zamir Noded, HaZamir and guest soloists, Cantors Netanel Herstik and Alberto Mizrahi.
In the face of the coronavirus pandemic that curtails singing and other in-person gatherings, the Zamir Choral Foundation adapts with on-line activities, including a series of Sunday afternoon “Conversation About Music in Challenging Times” and the 31st annual North American Jewish Choral Festival Online.