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Arts & Culture

Trinity Wall Street’s 2014-15 Season Presents an Expansive Array of Great Music

Trinity Wall Street presentations are always a highlight of the New York City concert calendar, and the expansive 2014-15 season continues a tradition of what National Public Radio has called Trinity’s “dynamic and vital musical offerings.” The new season ranges from Baroque masterpieces and New World spirituals to premieres of new works, beginning on Sunday September 7 at 8pm with the Compline by Candlelight series at St. Paul’s Chapel. This autumn, the Compline series will feature a different piece each Sunday from William Byrd’s Cantiones Sacrae, with Trinity’s Director of Music and the Arts, Julian Wachner, leading the Grammy Award-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street. On September 11, there will be commemorative performances at Trinity, including “A Celebration of Patriotism,” as the West Point Band and West Point Glee Club celebrate the resiliency of the American people on the 200th anniversary of the “Star-Spangled Banner” as part of the Concerts at One series. At 7pm on the same day, at St. Paul’s Chapel, Trinity launches its 4x4 Baroque Music Festival, with instrumental and vocal quartet concerts of favorites and rarities over the following four days. Trinity’s popular Bach at One series showcasing the composer’s cantatas begins on October 1, and at the end of that month Trinity will present special Halloween and All Saints Day concerts, including a showing of the 1925 silent film The Phantom of the Opera with live organ and choral improvisation, and a prelude in which the multi-talented singers of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street add their individual instrumental talents to their vocal expertise.

December has long brought acclaimed annual performances of Handel’s Messiah by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra. In the words of the New York Times, “to experience the full, formidable range of Messiah…let Trinity be your guide.” This season, Wachner will lead the ensembles in the Messiah at Trinity Church (Dec 17, 19, 21) and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall (Dec 18). Trinity’s ever-rich Twelfth Night Festival runs from December 26 to January 6, presenting music from across the centuries; this year’s festival will include Handel’s Saul, and will feature such guest artists as Gotham Early Music Scene (returning with the Play of Daniel) and the Grammy Award-winning Roomful of Teeth. Trinity then hosts the Prototype Festival at St. Paul’s Chapel (Jan 10-15), collaborating on Winter’s Child with HERE and Beth Morrison Projects. 

In collaboration with the Argentinian Embassy and local Consulate, on February 21 at Carnegie Hall, the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the Trinity Youth Chorus and NOVUS NY, Trinity’s contemporary music ensemble, join forces with the Grammy Award-winning Washington Chorus and the Choristers of The National Cathedral to perform two 20th century masterworks from the Americas. Wachner will conduct the program, which pairs Ives’s Symphony No. 4 with Alberto Ginastera’s Turbae ad Passionem Gregorianam. According to choral titan Robert Page, who premiered Turbae in the early seventies, Ginastera considered this to be his culminating and most important work. In this performance, Trinity Wall Street reintroduces Ginastera’s masterpiece to New York City in anticipation of the composer's 2016 centenary. The Washington Chorus – labeled “superb” and “first-rate” by the Baltimore Sun, noted for their “power and richness” by the Washington Times, and praised for their “laser intensity” and “remarkable suavity” by the Washington Post – has, under Wachner’s direction, made a paradigm shift with its attention to new music. Post music critic Anne Midgette recently commented that it’s “at once laudable, realistic and overdue that Julian Wachner and The Washington Chorus have written contemporary music firmly into their seasons.”

Highlights in the spring include, on March 12 at Trinity Church, the world premiere of Jeff Myers’s Requiem Aeternam by the Jack Quartet with soprano Martha Cluver. On April 3, Wachner leads the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street – “a world-class” combination, according to the Associated Press – in Bach’s St. John Passion at Trinity Church. And Trinity presents “By the Waters of Babylon: A Celebration of the Power of Black Music in America” from May 7-10, including a portrait of composer Trevor Weston, a program featuring Duke Ellington’s Sacred Service, a concert of spirituals featuring Stanley Thurston and a special performance by star vocalist Bobby McFerrin with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street.

New Recordings

Trinity Wall Street recently released two new albums on CD and digital download, both premiere recordings. The first is Julian Wachner: Symphony No. 1/Works for Orchestra and Voices, a three-CD set of the composer-conductor’s own works, recorded at Trinity Church with NOVUS NY and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, with which Wachner recently scored a Grammy nomination for their recording of Handel’s Israel in Egypt. Wachner’s music has been variously described as “jazzy, energetic, and ingenious” by the Boston Globe, having “splendor, dignity, outstanding tone combinations [and] sophisticated chromatic exploration” by La Scena Musicale, being “a compendium of surprises” by the Washington Post and as “bold and atmospheric,” having “an imaginative flair for allusive text setting” and being notable for “the silken complexities of his harmonies” by the New York Times. The American Record Guide noted that “Wachner is both an unapologetic modernist and an open-minded eclectic – his music has something to say.” 

This summer’s second new release, Ralf Yusuf Gawlick: Missa gentis humanae, is a multilingual “Mass for the Human Race,” which augments the traditional Latin liturgy with passages about love – drawn from Borges, Virgil, Brecht, Zbigniew Herbert, Dostoevsky, Plautus, Walter Scott and the Gospel According to St. John – in a polyphonic a cappella setting for eight singers, all handpicked from the Choir of Trinity Wall Street. At the work’s world premiere in Boston last February, The Boston Musical Intelligencer noted: “this is music which has taken itself beyond the ‘Holy Minimalist’ genre, and embraces counterpoint and tension in a way which sustains it in the wider scale. One was left with the impression of great richness of reference, bound together very lovingly.”

Both titles were released on CD by the Musica Omnia label and made available for digital downloading by Naxos International, which also handles international distribution. 

Compline by Candlelight

The New York Times has spoken of Trinity Wall Street conferring “a musical blessing” on the city, and this season the blessings begin September 7 with Compline by Candlelight. The series is offered Sunday evenings throughout much of the year in the candlelit beauty of St. Paul’s Chapel. The Choir of Trinity Wall Street improvises the liturgy and pairs these improvisations with complementary works by two great composers: in the autumn and early winter there will be a focus on the music of Elizabethan composer William Byrd; in the spring, the composer focus will be on Rachmaninoff. See the concert calendar below for a complete list of works. 

Bach at One

Trinity’s ever-popular Bach at One series on Wednesdays, beginning this season on October 1, sees the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra continue their ongoing presentation of Bach’s complete cantata output, directed by Wachner and various guest conductors. The New York Times has praised the “dramatic vigor” of Bach performances by the Trinity forces, not to mention “the buoyant, elegantly shaped orchestral sound” and “the lithe, immaculate and colorful singing of the chorus.” 

Concerts at One / Third Thursdays

Trinity’s Concerts at One series takes place each Thursday during the season at Trinity Church, with the programs ranging from early music to new works. After the September 11 “Celebration of Patriotism” with the West Point Band and West Point Glee Club, Concerts at One goes on to include a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 (arranged by Klaus Simon) and the New York premiere of Julian Wachner’s Chamber Symphony on October 2, performed by the New Orchestra of Washington under conductor Alejandro Hernandez. On March 12 is the world premiere of Jeff Myers’ Requiem Aeternam by the Jack Quartet with soprano Martha Cluver. Concerts at One also includes jazz, with the Matt Garrison Jazz Quintet on October 30, up-and-coming pianist Aaron Diehl on April 9 and the Chris Pattishall Quintet performing Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite (in Pattishall’s arrangement) on May 7. 

This season Concerts at One will also include a subseries of mostly symphonic concerts titled “Third Thursdays.” On November 20, Wachner leads NOVUS NY in an all-American program of works by Ives, Copland and Lukas Foss. On March 19, Wachner and the ensemble pair Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 with John Adams’s Chamber Symphony. Guest conductor Grant Gershon conducts NOVUS NY on April 16 in Milhaud’s La création du monde plus works by Alban Berg and Messiaen. Wachner returns to direct the group on May 21 in Harrison Birtwistle’s Bach Measures and pieces by Ligeti and Schwendinger.

Messiah

The New York Times regularly gives Trinity Wall Street’s annual performances of Handel’s Messiah the highest acclaim, including one review saying that while other groups present the Messiah as “a comfortable holiday tradition, Trinity put on something closer to a sacred rite.” And Time Out New York has simply declared Trinity’s performances to be “New York’s finest annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah.” This season’s Messiah performances by the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street – with the vocal soloists drawn from the chorus – will be given at Trinity Church (Dec 17, 19, 21) and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall (Dec 18), with Wachner on the podium. Covering last December’s performances, the New York Times critic said: “At Trinity, Handel’s Messiah becomes an act of communal affirmation. … To have them united in a 29-member choir creates an arresting plasticity of sound that can swell from vapor-like pianissimos to towering fortes as it did in ‘Since by man came death’ – a chorus I had previously counted among the least interesting in the oratorio and which here took on an air of revelatory mystery.”

Twelfth Night Festival

Trinity’s Twelfth Night Festival – New York’s winter early-music festival – runs from December 26 to January 5. The New York Times has praised Trinity’s wide range of Twelfth Night offerings, describing the festival as “varied, engrossing.” This year’s Twelfth Night Festival begins on December 26 at St. Paul’s Chapel with a performance of Bach’s complete Orchestral Suites by the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, featuring the Trinity Scholars directed by harpsichordist-conductor Avi Stein. Gotham Early Music Scene returns to perform the medieval Play of Daniel at Trinity Church, with two shows each day on December 27 and 28. Clarion Music Society also returns to sing Rachmaninoff’s Vespers on January 1. Other guest performers include the Bishop’s Band, Grand Harmonie, NY Baroque Inc., Ensemble Viscera, Cappella Romana, countertenor Ryland Angel, Holy Trinity Bach Vespers under Donald Meineke, and Roomful of Teeth, among others. On January 2 and 4 at St. Paul’s Chapel, Wachner leads the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra in Handel’s Saul. The New York Times has lauded the combination of the Choir and Trinity Baroque Orchestra for “a glorious, smoothly blended, beautifully textured sound.”

Bach’s St. John Passion
 
Trinity’s expertise with the music of Bach has earned acclaim from the New York Times, which praised the “dramatic vigor” of Bach performances by the Trinity ensembles, not to mention “the buoyant, elegantly shaped orchestral sound” and “the lithe, immaculate and colorful singing of the chorus.” This spring, the forces of Trinity Wall Street come together under Wachner to perform J.S. Bach’s epochal St. John Passion on April 3. The program will also include smaller yet no less affecting vocal works by Bach, Brahms and Reger.

By the Waters of Babylon: A Celebration of the Power of Black Music in America

Starting with the Concerts at One performance of Mary Lou Williams’s irresistible Zodiac Suite on May 7 by the Chris Pattishall Quintet, Trinity will present a multi-event festival celebrating the varied forms of black music in America running through May 10. On May 8, it’s a program of spirituals with the choir led by guest conductor Stanley Thurston; on May 9, the festival continues with a portrait of New York-born contemporary composer Trevor Weston, featuring the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the NOVUS NY Percussion Ensemble; on May 10 at the 11:15am Choral Eucharist service Wachner will lead the choir in Duke Ellington’s Sacred Service and Will Todd’s Mass in Blue; at 2pm that same day superstar vocalist Bobby McFerrin will join the Choir of Trinity Wall Street for a festival finale. A Bob Marley Dance Party at historic St. Paul’s Chapel rounds out the festival the evening of May 9.

Trinity Wall Street

One of the oldest, largest and most vibrant of all Episcopal parishes, Trinity Wall Street is located in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District, where it has created a dynamic home for performances of great music that are “transcendent” and “moving,” according to the New York Times. Serving as director of Trinity’s Music and the Arts Program – as well as principal conductor of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the period-instrument Trinity Baroque Orchestra and contemporary-music ensemble-in-residence NOVUS NY – Julian Wachner also oversees all liturgical, professional and community music and arts programming at Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel. The New York Times has called his leadership “inspiring,” while the New Yorker has described Trinity Wall Street as “a mini-Lincoln Center for downtown Manhattan.” The music at Trinity ranges from large-scale oratorios to chamber music, from intimate a cappella singing to jazz improvisation. Many concerts at Trinity Wall Street are professionally filmed and webcast live at www.trinitywallstreet.org

See below for more information on Trinity Wall Street’s various concert series and special events, as well as a concert calendar with full performance details. 

Music at Trinity Wall Street, 2014-15

Sun, Sep 7, 8pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton) 

Compline by Candlelight featuring Byrd’s Cantiones Sacrae 

Byrd: Aspice Domine de sede

The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Julian Wachner, conductor

Thurs, Sep 11, 1pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall) 

Concerts at One

A Celebration of Patriotism On the 200th Anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner

West Point Band; West Point Glee Club

Thursday, Sep 11, 7pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton)

4x4 Baroque Music Festival

“The Grand Overture”

Bach: Suite No. 4 in D Major 

Telemann: Suite in B-flat Major 

Fasch: Suite in G Minor 

Friday, Sep 12, 7pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton)

4x4 Baroque Music Festival

“Café Zimmermann”

Music of Bach, Handel and Zelenka

Robert Mealy, violin

Gonzalo Ruiz and Kathryn Montoya, oboes

Dominic Teresi, bassoon; Avi Stein, harpsichord

Saturday, Sep 13, 7pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton)

4x4 Baroque Music Festival

“Concert Spirituel”

Music of Rameau, Clérambault and Marais

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano

Robert Mealy, violin

Sarah Cunningham, viola da gamba

Avi Stein, harpsichord

Sunday, Sep 14, 4pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton)

4x4 Baroque Music Festival

“From Darkness into Light”

Bach: Cantatas 101 and 146

Mireille Asselin, soprano

Kirsten Sollek, alto

Steven Caldicott Wilson, tenor

Jesse Blumberg, baritone

Sun, Sep 14, 8pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton)

Compline by Candlelight featuring Byrd’s Cantiones Sacrae 

Byrd: In resurrectione tua

The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Julian Wachner, conductor

Sun, Sep 21, 8pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton)

Compline by Candlelight featuring Byrd’s Cantiones Sacrae 

Byrd: Memento Domine

The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Julian Wachner, conductor

Sun, Sep 28, 8pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton)

Compline by Candlelight featuring Byrd’s Cantiones Sacrae 

Byrd: Laetentur coeli

The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Julian Wachner, conductor

Wed, Oct 1, 1pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton) 

Bach at One

Bach: Prelude in E-flat Major, BWV 552a

Bach: Es erhub sich ein Streit, BWV 19

Bach: Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten, BWV 74

Trinity Baroque Orchestra; The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Julian Wachner, conductor

Thurs, Oct 2, 1pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall) 

Concerts at One 

Mahler: Symphony No. 4 (arr. Klaus Simon)

Wachner: Chamber Symphony (2014), New York premiere

New Orchestra of Washington; Alejandro Hernandez, conductor

Sun, Oct 5, 8pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton)

Compline by Candlelight featuring Byrd’s Cantiones Sacrae 

Byrd: Domine tu jurasti

The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Julian Wachner, conductor

Wed, Oct 8, 1pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton) 

Bach at One

Muffat: Passacaglia in G Minor

Bach: Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn, BWV 119

Bach: Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120

Trinity Baroque Orchestra; The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Julian Wachner, conductor

Thurs, Oct 9, 1pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall) 

Concerts at One 

Works by J.S. Bach, J.C. Bach & C.P.E. Bach

Beiliang Zhu, cello 

Sun, Oct 12, 8pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton)

Compline by Candlelight featuring Byrd’s Cantiones Sacrae 

Byrd: Ne irascaris Domine

The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Julian Wachner, conductor

Wed, Oct 15, 1pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton)

Bach at One

Bach: Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 543

Bach: Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen, BWV 87

Bach: Ihr werdet weinen und heulen, BWV 103

Trinity Baroque Orchestra; The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Julian Wachner, conductor