The local chapter of the international HaZamir Jewish high school choir announced its ninth season, inviting performers to join the troupe at the Squirrel Hill JCC as it rehearses for performances such as a national gala concert to take place March 22 at Lincoln Center.
“HaZamir allows teens a unique opportunity to sing Jewish choral music at an extremely high-caliber level and provides a space for them to quite literally find their Jewish voice,” said Carolyn Gerecht, director of teen learning at the Agency for Jewish Learning. “Teens join together weekly under the guidance of world-renowned musical director and conductor Nizan Leibovich in a place where they can truly be themselves.”
Gerecht stressed that HaZamir helps teens “develop a deep respect for Jewish choral music, culture and sound” as well as “create meaningful social bonds over their shared love of singing and performing.”
While the group has been transforming the lives of local teens for years (regular performances take place at Pittsburgh’s Weinberg Terrace, the Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival), connecting them to Pittsburgh’s sister cities in Israel has brought the choir full circle.
“Partnership2Gether, which is funded by the Jewish Federation’s annual campaign, has been developing relationships between people from Pittsburgh, Karmiel and Misgav for nearly 20 years,” said Cindy Goodman-Leib, co-chair of the Partnership2Gether program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “In that time we have become increasingly more focused on our core value of creating kesher, or connection, and we are also thinking much more broadly about who we partner with.”
The HaZamir project fits into that mission, she said. “We are trying much more to expand the avenues through which people can connect to Israel — whether running in the Pittsburgh Marathon with Israeli runners from Karmiel/Misgav, meeting teens with similar interests, be it in music or singing, the arts, or science and robotics — by providing diverse, mutually beneficial programming that speaks the language of Jewish peoplehood for many different constituencies.”
This year, the choir will perform both locally and nationally and once with singers from the sister cities.
All local HaZamir Pittsburgh performances feature a selection of songs from HaZamir’s repertoire and are open to the community, Gerecht said.
The singers will perform at a Community Concert with the Partnership2Gether chapter from Karmiel/Misgav on Thursday, March 26; at the community Yom HaZikaron event on Tuesday, April 21; and at the J-SITE graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 17. HaZamir Pittsburgh will also perform at the Festival Gala Concert in New York City’s Lincoln Center on Sunday, March 22.
The group still has space for young people in grades eight to 12 to lift their voices. HaZamir Pittsburgh meets on Sundays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Squirrel Hill JCC, and the rehearsals are open to new people at any time.
“Any community members who are interested in attending either a performance or a rehearsal are welcomed to attend at any time to enjoy the music, learn more about our program and to see HaZamir Pittsburgh in action,” Gerecht said. “We are eager to grow our HaZamir family and would love to greet you — teens, parents and supporters alike.”
A detailed schedule can be found at ajlpittsburgh.org/j-site/HaZamir.shtml.
Bee Schindler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.