Serbian jewish singing society The Baruch Brothers Choir
The “Baruch Brothers” Choir from Belgrade was established in as the Serbian-Jewish Singers Society in 1879, with the goal of cherishing and performing the cultural and artistic heritage and tradition of the Jewish people which lives in these parts. The Society changed its name in 1952 to the current name in commemoration of the three brothers from the progressive revolutionary Jewish family of Baruch, members of the resistance movement who were killed during the pogroms of the Nazi regime during the Second World War.
Joshua Jacobson (Boston, USA), conductor and a renowned researcher in the field of Jewish music, has concluded that this choir is oldest active Jewish choir in the world. The program policy of this ensemble has always been clearly defined and conceived in concurrence with its broader cultural-societal goal, which includes the mutual communication of traditions and closeness between the Jewish and Serbian people.
From the year of its foundation until today, the choir has held numerous concerts and participated in many competitions and festivals in the former Yugoslavia (Yugoslav Choral Festivities in Nish, “Mokranjac’s Days” in Negotin, BEMUS, BELEF, Choirs among the Frescoes in Belgrade and others), as well as abroad (Israel, USA, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, UK and others).
Among the most important performances of the choir, we would like to mention the concert in Carnegie Hall in 1978, as well as the attendance of our choir on numerous occasions at the most important Jewish choir festival “Zimriya” in Jerusalem. Our ensemble has gradually perfected its performance under the conductorship of the most eminent conductors and composers of our country (S. S. Mokranjac, J. Marinković, S. Hristić, B. Babić, B. Pašćan, A. S. Vujić, et al.), having gained under their guidance a high level of artistic interpretation and superb discipline in stage performance.
The repertory of the choir consists of representative works of musical literature from both Jewish and Serbian composers, as well as all the most important works of the classical choir repertory of all styles and epochs and the works of modern composers. Among the most eminent vocal soloists who have participated in the choirs’ concerts, we would especially like to mention A. Marinković, B. Cvejić, B. Kalef, Đ. Čakarević, and in recent years J. Jovanović, S. Kocić, Ž. Ćirić and many others.
The choir has appeared in a series of television and radio programs, having done recordings in the country and abroad. The “Baruch Brothers” Choir has recorded two LP discs with Jewish synagogal and traditional music for the recording company PGP RTS. After a very successful concert “Jerusalem of Gold” held in the Great Hall of Ilija M. Kolarac’s Foundation, we did a CD recording of the same name in 2007. The “Baruch Brothers” Choir has twice received medals from the President of Serbia, for its contribution to the cultural affirmation of our country.
During the last four years, the choir has received numerous awards and prizes at important international competitions: 2nd award at the International Competition in Orthodox Choral Music in Hajnówka, Poland; 2nd award at the “Ochrid Choir Festival”, Macedonia; 2nd award at the 21st International Choir Competition in Spiritual Music in Namestov, Slovakia; 3rd award at the International Choir Competition “Georgi Dmitrov” in Varna, Bulgaria; two silver medals in categories A1 and S1 at the INTERKULTUR Competition (Vrnjačka Banja 2014) and one Bronze medal at the 34th International Choir Competition at Preveza, Greece.
The conductor and artistic director of the choir is Stefan Zekić. The president of the choir is Branka Cvejić-Mezei.
Born in 1983 in Belgrade, he graduated on the Department for conducting, and Department for opera singing on the Faculty of Music Arts in Belgrade. He participated in seminars and master classes with eminent European conductors such as Urosh Lajovic (AU), Michael Scheck (BE), Andrew Parrott (UK) and Max Frey (GE).
Already in the age of 12, he won numerous prizes and performed his first solo concert as a pianist with Belgrade symphony orchestra.
He conducts since he was seventeen, and since 2006. he is the chief conductor of the eminent “Baruch Brothers” choir – founded in 1879. in Belgrade.
Stefan Zekić regularly brings recognitions and awards from prestigious international festivals, including: Seghizzi (Gorizia, Italy), Vivace (Veszprem, Hungary), International Habaneras and Polyphony Competition (Torrevieja, Spain), Zimrya (Jerusalim, Israel), Hajnowskie dni (Hajnowka, Poland), Days of Mokranjac (Negotin, Serbia), two gold medals and Grand Prix at the state festival “May Music Festival” (Bosnia and Herzegovina), International Choral Festival (Niš, Serbia) and others.
He has received special honors from the State of Israel for achievement and great success in the field of Jewish choral music.
He conducted many concerts and performances throughout the country (Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Nis, Kikinda, Subotica) and abroad (Italy, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Spain, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Israel).
Since 2010 he is working as an opera conductor at National Theatre in Belgrade. He conducted “Le nozze di Figaro” (W.A. Mozart), wich was pronounsed as the best opera performance in the seasone 2010/11. He also participated as a second conductor in preparing and conducting the premiere of the opera – Lucia di Lammermoor (Gaetano Donizetti), Adriana Lecouvreur (Francesco Cilea), L’amour des trois oranges (Sergey Prokofiev).
He is the founder and artistic director of the ensemble “Canticum Novum” and chief conductor and artistic director of the “Baruch Brothers” choir.