HaZamir at Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center will be alive with Jewish music March 27 as more than 250 teenagers from across the United States and Israel gather to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the founding of HaZamir:

The 6 p.m. concert will be held in the Rose Theater, the home of Jazz at Lincoln Center at Broadway at 60th St. Tickets range in price from $36-$100 and can be purchased online or at the box office.

HaZamir was created by Matthew Lazar, founder of the Zamir Choral Foundation, to provide teens with a high level choral experience in a Jewish environment. In the years since its founding it has grown from a single New York City chapter to 19 chapters in the United States and Israel. Each chapter meets weekly and shares a musical repertoire that is studied for the annual gathering in New York City.

Many HaZamir teens, who are in grades 8-12, have already participated in a wide variety of musical activities before auditioning for HaZamir, including synagogue and school choirs, plays, orchestras and band. But HaZamir is unique in that it provides the teens an opportunity to integrate their musical lives with a Jewish experience.

A recent survey of HaZamir members and alumni showed that participation in HaZamir solidified their Jewish identity and resulted in a high level of participation in the Jewish community as they grew older. More than 58 percent said HaZamir enabled them to integrate their musical and Jewish lives, while 57 percent said HaZamir enables them to wear their Jewish identity in public.

HaZamir follows the tenets of the Zamir Choral Foundation, namely it encourages trans-denominational and trans-political understanding and unity through its programs. The opportunity to interact with teens from other Jewish streams was cited by more than 75 percent of the teens as one of HaZamir’s attractions.

The interactions between Israeli and American youth are a highlight of the HaZamir experience, said HaZamir Director Vivian Lazar. “The culture divide between American and Israeli teenagers is very wide, and is often based on the stereotypes that they see in the media,” she said. “But in the week they spend together preparing for the concert, they learn there is more that unites than divides them, and they form strong and lasting friendships.

Preparation for the concert takes place during the weekly practices in each community and in a three-day Annual HaZamir Festival weekend in upstate New York. The teens participate in intensive rehearsals, a variety of prayer services and encounters and choir-to-choir performances. In addition, there is are social activities organized by the HaZamir Teen Leaders, an international committee of representatives from each chapter.

The Festival weekend ends with travel to New York City on Sunday for the Gala concert in Rose P. Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. This year’s 18th Gala concert will reprise some of HaZamir’s greatest hits and premiere new works. HaZamir alumni will reunite and perform in an alumni choir as well as join the 250 current HaZamirniks in a grand finale.

For more information about HaZamir and the Zamir Choral Foundation, see ZamirChoralFoundation.org.