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Meet the Director

Eleanor Epstein is widely acknowledged as a master teacher and gifted choral conductor. A lifelong student of Jewish music and text, she grew up in a family steeped in Jewish learning and song – the heart of her work today.


Known for inspiring singers to connect deeply to both music and text, Eleanor works internationally as a guest conductor and artist-in-residence. She has collaborated and consulted with congregations, cantors and choirs, including The North American Jewish Choral Festival, Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Music Educators National Conference and the Soldiers’ Chorus of the United States Army.


A student of acclaimed American composer Alice Parker, Eleanor is committed to the preservation of Jewish folk melodies. Her choral settings of Jewish folk songs are performed throughout the world.

As artistic director and conductor of Zemer Chai, Eleanor creates an atmosphere where singers are encouraged to integrate their individual experiences with an emotional and intellectual understanding of the text and the melody, providing a special dimension to the choir’s music-making. Her passion for preserving and transmitting Jewish music inspires both her singers and her audiences and she is committed to the belief that music is a powerful force for building understanding. “Singing is an immediate way to build bridges between people.”

"Since 9/11/2001, the Soldiers' Chorus and Eleanor Epstein have had a more than special relationship. Her ability to make even the most hardened Soldier smile, laugh, dance and love the music they are singing and performing, is a rare and wonderful gift. Whenever we need an injection of inspiration, Eleanor is our first call."


The Soldiers' Chorus of the US Army Field Band

“Eleanor’s knowledge of Jewish music, her creative spirit, and her visionary leadership combine in a person who dedicates herself to others. To understand the importance of her contribution to the cultural life of the community, one needs only to imagine how diminished it would be without Eleanor and the work of Zemer Chai.”

Douglas D. Cox, Music Director,

The Frederick Chorale & The Chester River Chorale

"You taught us in a way that has had profound reverberations among us."

Benjie-Ellen Schiller,

Cantor, composer

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