Cantigas Women’s Choir and Glass Menagerie Join Forces for Festival of Jewish Song

Hudson County’s Cantigas Women’s Choir will join forces with the Glass Menagerie of Lower Manhattan, along with Soprano Naomi Katz Cohento to perform, Zimriya: A Festival of Jewish Song, on Sunday, March 5, at Temple Beth-El.

Cantigas Women’s Choir, named after a medieval Spanish song form called a “cantiga,” is composed of about 50 women of varying ages and backgrounds. The group was founded in September 2002 and made its international debut this past July with 30 members traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for two concert performances. The shows topped off seven years of cultural exchange with premier Argentine musicians, including the group’s sister choir, Coral Femenino de Caballito.

The group performs a broad spectrum of global music. In addition to its own biannual concerts, the ensemble performs for various community groups, including the Cussack Home in Jersey City, on behalf of cancer survivors in Bayonne, and for the Liberty Humane Society. Cantigas has also performed frequently at the NJ State Correctional Facility for women.

Joan Isaacs Litman, founding Artistic Director of Cantigas Women’s Choir, has been a music educator and choral director in the New York metropolitan area for many years. She has taught and guest conducted throughout the Middle East, in Tokyo and Hong Kong and in Latin America. Litman has served on the music faculty of the United Nations International School in Manhattan and she is presently Artist-in-Residence at the Mustard Seed School, where she is also a founder and Music Director Emerita. This season, Cantigas is accompanied by organist Josh Mauldin, musical director at All Saints Episcopal Church and Day School.

Performance highlights will include Yiddish and Ladino favorites such as “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena,” “Shalom Aleichem,” “Los Biblicos,” and the two powerhouse ensembles will join forces signing Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs. “The Jewish audience will need no reminder of the rich musical tradition of their people — the well-known pieces will bring sheer enjoyment,” Litman says. “I also feel that the non-Jewish audience will be enchanted by the music that has captivated me since my early childhood.”

Zimriya: A Festival of Jewish Song will be performed on Sunday, March 5, at 7 pm, at Temple Beth-El (2419 John F. Kennedy Blvd.). An encore presentation of the concert will be held Sunday, March 19 at 3 pm at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan’s Battery Park. Suggested donation for each concert is $20 ($10 for students).

For more information on the Cantigas Women’s Choir, visit cantigas.net.

Photo courtesy Cantigas Women’s Choir

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Catherine Hecht

is the owner of Harmony Media, NJ, the publisher of Jersey City Independent and blogs about urban gardening at dig a path. She's lived in Jersey City since 1999 and resides in the Heights section with her wife Beth Achenbach, they were the first couple to file as legal domestic partners in Jersey City. Cat has over 10 years experience in communications, marketing and publishing, she's studied anthropology, art history, woman & gender studies, botany, ethnobotany, and herbology and she is a graduate of the Rising Tide Capital Community Business Academy. She is also is a community activist, registered voter, gay rights activist, art lover, gardener, environmentalist, and an animal advocate.