Who are the conductors?

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Josh Jacobson has held positions such as Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Northeastern University, Visiting Professor and Senior Consultant in the School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College, and founding director of the Zamir Chorale of Boston. He has guest conducted many ensembles, including the Boston Pops Orchestra and the Bulgarian National Symphony and Chorus.  He has guest lectured and taught workshops for schools, synagogues, festivals and conventions throughout North America and in Israel. His published works include two books, dozens of articles, and over 100 compositions, editions and arrangements.  Dr. Jacobson holds degrees in Music from Harvard College, the New England Conservatory, and the University of Cincinnati. He was honoured with a special award at the 2017 North American Jewish Choral Festival for his services to choral music.

Prof. Jacobson leads The Challenge Choir at the AJCF 4, for experienced singers with strong music reading skills.


Kelly Shepard has sung professionally for 30 years: opera, musicals and barbershop, and directed many choirs, conducting choral works in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera House. As Head of Department, Kelly built a performing arts program at Milken Community Schools, the largest Jewish Day School in the USA, where he served as Musical Director for all the musicals. Kelly founded, and for 15 years led the Los Angeles chapter of HaZamir, the International Teen Choir founded under the umbrella of the Zamir Choral Foundation. He has been a regular presenter at the North American Jewish Choral Festival. He and his family recently moved to Brisbane, where he directs the Brisbane City Sounds Chorus. He aims to bring Australia to the HaZamir world by starting HaZamir Australia. Kelly holds a Bachelor of Music Education (High Distinction) from Indiana University School of Music. He will lead the Children's Choir, and co-lead the Connection Choir with Cantor Michel Laloum, from Melbourne. 


EZL image 1.jpgElliot Z. Levine was a founding member and resident composer of the Grammy-nominated New York vocal ensemble The Western Wind, for 45 years. He recently moved to Los Angeles, but still joins them for selected performances. He conducts the Los Angeles chapter of HaZamir, the International Teen Choir, under the umbrella of the Zamir Choral Foundation. A Master’s graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, Elliot has been a featured soloist with many ensembles, including the Rome Opera and the Folger Consort. He is a longstanding educator of summer vocal ensembles at Smith College, Massachusetts, and is a regular presenter at the North American Jewish Choral Festival. He was on the faculty of the inaugural Australian Jewish Choral Festival, 2012 and again in 2016. He is a respected and prolific contributor to contemporary liturgical repertoire. Elliot will direct the Creation Choir.

Matthew Lazar, Founder & Director, Zamir Choral Foundation, North American Jewish Choral Festival: “Elliot’s music is a joy to sing!”



Cantor Michel Laloum was ordained as a Cantor at Hebrew Union College and completed rabbinic studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion and the Jewish Theological Seminary.  He serves as Cantor atTemple Beth Israel, Melbourne, and heads the Australasian Music Network of the Union for Progressive Judaism. His influences include Yiddish and Sephardic, he holds degrees in music and philosophy, and studied in Israeli Yeshivot and American progressive institutions. Born in Belgium and raised in Australia, he has worked in Israel, France and New York. Cantor Michel will again lead a Yiddish musical experience at the festival, (with a surprise or two), and co-lead the Connection Choir with Kelly Shepard.