Choral Singers Practice, Look Ahead to Carnegie Hall

HaZamir singers rehearse at the JCC of Greater Washington in Rockville for their Carnegie Hall performance. (Photo by Cheryl Troy)
HaZamir singers rehearse at the JCC of Greater Washington in Rockville for their Carnegie Hall performance. (Photo by Cheryl Troy)

Daniel Eisenberg was a founding singer of the Baltimore Chapter of the Zamir Choral Foundation in 2005.

The 25-year-old Columbia native is now a founding conductor for the newly formed Washington, D.C., HaZamir Chapter and will see his students’ work culminate at Carnegie Hall in New York City on April 3.

Their final rehearsals in preparation for the concert will take place at the HaZamir Festival, held at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa in Kerhonksen, N.Y., starting March 31. HaZamir singers representing all of the HaZamir chapters, along with their conductors, coordinators and parent chaperones, attend the festival.

There are 385 singers and 25 chapters in the United States and six chapters in Israel.

Kate York, 18, is a senior at South Lakes High School in Reston, Va., and for years had wanted to join the Jewish high school choral group HaZamir but couldn’t justify driving to Baltimore each week.

“This is such a unique way for us to express our Judaism,” said York. “HaZamir is a youth group that’s all of these different movements, combined with the common purpose of singing, which is something that I really never even thought would be so powerful, but it really is.”

She is one of 15 singers from Washington, Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland who auditioned at the D.C. Chapter’s first meeting last June. Since September, they have been rehearsing every Sunday evening at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington in Rockville.

“It was really long overdue for us to have a chapter in Washington, so it’s very thrilling,” said Cheryl Troy, parent coordinator who was instrumental in helping to open the chapter. Her daughter, Ariel, a junior at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, is a singer in the chapter. She previously sang for two years in the Baltimore Chapter.

The Baltimore connection runs deep in the new Washington-area chapter. Troy’s son, Aaron, 21, a student at Cornell University, is also an alumnus of the Baltimore Chapter, whose conductor, Erika Pardes Schon, helped Troy start the Washington Chapter.

“We have had a few joint rehearsals with our chapter in Baltimore since we’re so close,” Troy said. “We’re actually very lucky to be so close to another chapter that we can easily get together and have a joint rehearsal.”

Eisenberg and Schon both emphasized that Carnegie Hall is a venue where the best musicians in the world have performed.

“I’m really looking forward to [the concert], and I know the kids in the choir are also,” said Eisenberg. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work to get this point. It’s [going to be] really great for the kids to see it pay off by performing in Carnegie Hall.”

Even for Schon, who has played music most of her life, it’s an uplifting experience.

“It’s inspiring for me every year to be a part of this process and for me to learn from excellent conductors and excellent musicians,” she said.

Justin Katz contributed to this report.

—Josh Marks


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