Matthew Lazar (b. 1948)
Matthew Lazar is the leading force of the Jewish choral movement in North America. His superior talents as a conductor and interpreter of Jewish music have elevated the standards of Jewish musical performance and educated audiences across North America. His visionary leadership led to the creation of the Zamir Choral Foundation, which continues to nurture the growth of Jewish choral singing in North America and Israel. In addition to directing the Zamir Chorale, he has also created the Mantua Singers, the Selah Vocal Ensemble, and Shirah: The Community Chorus of the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades. He has inspired the creation of adult choral ensembles throughout the United States and through the Zamir Choral Foundation’s Jeanne R. Mandell Fund for New Music, has contributed to the expansion of the choral repertoire through commissions of new music by the finest composers in North America and Israel.
Matthew Lazar’s establishment of the North American Jewish Choral Festival has provided a forum for hundreds of Jewish choral singers to come together for an annual, week long, immersion in Jewish choral music. The Choral Festival has created a harmonious community that bridges all denominational, generational and political divides and promotes the highest standards of Jewish choral performance and education.
In 1993, Mr. Lazar turned his attention to the next generation with his creation of HaZamir. What began in Manhattan as a single choir to provide quality choral singing opportunities for Jewish high school students has grown into an ever-expanding international movement. The success of HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir has assured the continuity of Lazar’s commitment to superior Jewish choral singing and Jewish identity.
In addition to his activities in the realm of Jewish choral music, Maestro Lazar has also appeared as guest conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Chamber Symphony, the Ra’anana Symphony, and at the Ravinia Music Festival. Mr. Lazar regularly appears with the great cantors of this generation, and presents programs at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and other major concert halls in the United States and Israel.
Mr. Lazar has served on the faculties of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary and is a frequent lecturer and scholar-in-residence in communities and universities across the United States. He was recently honored for his accomplishments by the Cantors Assembly and by Queens College of the City of New York. In addition to his albums with the Zamir Chorale, his recordings include Chants Mystique I and II with Alberto Mizrahi, Birthday of the World I and II and A Taste of Eternity I and II with the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble, and Songs for Jerusalem, featuring a special narration by Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel, with whom Mr. Lazar recently performed in a special concert entitled “Memories and Melodies of my Childhood.”