Founded in 1985 by its present music director and conductor, Neil Levin, New York-based Schola Hebraeica is the world’s only fully professional male-voice chorus devoted to Jewish and Judaically related music. The ensemble’s celebrated hallmark timbre derives in part from its battery of distinctive idioms and stylistic features once typical of traditional synagogue choirs—especially in America, as well as in communities within the British Commonwealth. Its repertoire, however, ranges from classical liturgical and cantorial works to Yiddish folksong, and also to contemporary settings in a variety of other languages.
Schola Hebraeica made its public debut at Madison Square Garden at a ceremony commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto uprising on its 40th anniversay. Since then, in addition to its many appearances in the greater New York area, it has toured regularly throughout the United States and Canada as well as abroad—including four visits to Great Britain. Its London debut was in 1990 at the Royal Festival Hall, in the world premiere of Voice of Jewish Russia. In the United States it has sung with most of today’s leading cantorial artists, and the choir made its Lincoln Center debut in 1997 in a program entitled Voice of Ashkenaz. In the summer of 1999 Schola Hebraeica was the only Jewish choir invited to appear in England at the international choral festival Sacred Voices Music Village, where it gave more than a dozen performances in venues throughout Greater London. The chorus is also featured on several recordings and is the resident chorus of the International Centre for Jewish Music. Coro Hebraeico is a larger, mixed-voice professional ensemble, also directed by Neil Levin, with Schola Hebraeica as its core, which made its Lincoln Center debut in 2003. Donald Barnum has been chorusmaster of both groups from their inception.