Joshua R. Jacobson holds a Bachelors degree in Music from Harvard College, a Masters in Choral Conducting from the New England Conservatory, a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Cincinnati, and a Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa from Hebrew College. Before retiring in 2018, Dr. Jacobson served 45 years as Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Northeastern University, including nine years as Music Department Chairman and six years as the Bernard Stotsky Professor of Jewish Cultural Studies. He is also Visiting Professor and Senior Consultant in the School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College. He is also the founder and director of the Zamir Chorale of Boston, a world-renowned ensemble, specializing in Hebrew music. He has conducted workshops on choral music for various groups, including the American Choral Directors Association, and has guest conducted a number of ensembles, including the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Bulgarian National Symphony and Chorus, the New England Conservatory Orchestra and the Boston Lyric Opera Company. He has also written articles on various aspects of choral music, and over one hundred published compositions and arrangements. In 1989 he spent four weeks in Yugoslavia as a Distinguished Professor under the auspices of the Fulbright program. In 1994 Hebrew College awarded him the Benjamin Shevach Award for Distinguished Achievement in Jewish Educational Leadership, in 2004 the Cantors Assembly presented him with its prestigious “Kavod Award,” in 2016 Choral Arts New England presented him the Alfred Nash Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2018 Chorus America selected him for its Distinguished Service Award. Prof. Jacobson is past President of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. He is the conductor and host of the PBS film, Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland. His book, Chanting the Hebrew Bible: The Art of Cantillation, published by the Jewish Publication Society in 2002, was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. He is co-author of Translations and Annotations of Choral Repertoire—Volume IV: Hebrew Texts, published by earthsongs in 2009.
Prof. Jacobson’s articles have appeared in The Choral Journal, the American Choral Review, The Journal of Synagogue Music, Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, Encyclopedia Judaica, Studies in Jewish Civilization, Yale University Institute of Sacred Music Colloquium, The Musical Quarterly, and others. His compositions, arrangements and editions have been performed by ACDA honors choirs, by the Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and by the St. Olaf College Choirs, among others. His music is published by Transcontinental, ECS, Broude Brothers and Earthsongs. He has guest lectured at Harvard, Brandeis, Yale, and many other schools. In addition to his specialization in Jewish music, he has conducted many of the standard choral-orchestral masterworks, including Bach’s Johannespassion, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Poulenc’s Gloria, Schubert’s Mass in E-flat, Thompson’s A Peaceable Kingdom. He has also prepared Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for Daniel Barenboim and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mahler's Second Symphony for Zubin Mehta and the I. P. O., Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms for Gary Bertini and the Jerusalem Symphony, Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw for Piero Bellugi and the New England Conservatory Orchestra. In 2011 Jacobson launched "Middle Eastern Harmonies," a program bringing together on stage Jewish and Arab music and musicians. He has performed the program for diverse audiences throughout New England.
Here are excerpts from some press reviews. Richard Dyer wrote in the Boston Globe (June11, 2002) “Jacobson has a gift for programming that is instructive and entertaining, and more often than not, the Zamir Chorale performs works that music lovers would be unlikely to hear anyplace else.” Philip Greenfield in the American Record Guide (March/April, 2002), “The Zamir Chorale of Boston has become America’s foremost Jewish choral ensemble.” Kevin Gabriel in The Worcester Telegram and Gazette (March 25, 1996), “Jacobson led polished performances that emphasized clarity and balance. And the chorale’s professionalism was everywhere evident, particlularly in its unflagging attention to detail.”