Mon, February 25, 2013

Washington Chorus gives impassioned concert of Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’
The Washington Post

On Sunday, Julian Wachner conducted the Washington Chorus, nine vocal soloists and an orchestra in an impassioned performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s massive oratorio “Elijah” at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall…

The part of  Elijah was sung with commanding majesty and with fine shades of emotion by bass Stephen Salters. In solos and at times joined in a double quartet, Janice Chandler Eteme, Laura Vlasak Nolen, Benjamin Butterfield, Mitchell Galloway-Edgar, Steven Combs, Natalie Conte, Pamela Terry and Jerry Kavinski were as effective in portraying the heavy drama as they were in their tonal ebullience.

Early on, the choral mob scenes exploded with onslaughts of triple fortes…Later episodes were beautiful and had careful entrances and well-delineated rhythms.

Mon, February 18, 2013

As the Cantatas Unfurl, a Reprieve Is Affirmed
The New York Times

Trinity is now collaborating with the early-music vocal group Tenet on TENEbrae, six rich weeks of concerts reflecting on the Lenten period. The series opened on Sunday evening with a performance of Dieterich Buxtehude’s 1680 cantata cycle “Membra Jesu Nostri Patientis Sanctissima,” which served as a reminder, if yet another was needed, that Julian Wachner, Trinity’s director of music, has taken the church’s program to new heights.

Fri, February 8, 2013

Grammy Nominee and Conductor Julian Wachner
Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

The choir and baroque orchestra of Trinity Wall Street have been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for their recording of Handel’s “Israel in Egypt.” Watch the choir and orchestra rehearsing the oratorio, and listen to our interview with director of music Julian Wachner about the hymns he loves and the mission of music both in the church and in the classical music world.

Wed, January 9, 2013

Exploring The Classical Field Nominees

Best Choral Performance:  The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Israel in Egypt by George Frederic Handel, conducted by Julian Wachner.

Wachner has one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of his career.

Mon, January 7, 2013

MUSIC REVIEW: Christmas Oratorio at St. Paul’s Chapel
The New York Times

As Zachary Woolfe suggested in his review of the Trinity “Messiah” presentation at Alice Tully Hall last month, there is nothing tentative about a Wachner performance. That was again evident from the opening moments of the first cantata on Wednesday, when the excellent choristers raised the rafters of the tiny chapel to the words “Rejoice, exult, arise, glorify the days.”

That text, like so many exciting moments in the oratorio, gains added impetus from the exuberant use of trumpets and timpani. And the presence of John Thiessen, who represents the state of the art on the intractable Baroque trumpet hereabout, was invaluable throughout.

Mr. Wachner’s bold approach paid dividends again on Thursday, when the players of other tricky instruments, like the Baroque hunting horn, struggled at the start of the fourth cantata. Fearlessly Mr. Wachner only exhorted them to redouble their efforts in energy and volume with, ultimately, stirring results.

But he could also exercise notable restraint, as in “I stand by thy manger bed here,” a chorale in the sixth cantata on Friday. Mr. Wachner dispensed with the orchestra and kept the choristers seated as they sang softly to breathtaking effect.

Fri, December 28, 2012

For 12 Days of Christmas, 6 ‘Brandenburg’ Concertos
The New York Times

...this week Mr. Wachner kicked off the second annual Twelfth Night Festival, a rich musical celebration of the 12 days of Christmas that continues through Jan. 6.

The festival delves into lesser-known repertory, from early British Christmas music and Russian works to premieres, including one by Mr. Wachner. But Thursday afternoon brought the evergreen: the first part of a two-day survey of Bach’s six “Brandenburg” Concertos, by the Chamber Players of the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, at St. Paul’s Chapel…

...The Concerto No. 5 comes close to harpsichord concerto territory. After strange harmonic wanderings in the first movement, the work turns to a long, dazzling solo that was handled with flair by Avi Stein. The intimate second-movement Affettuoso, by three of the city’s finest early-music artists — Mr. Stein, the violinist Robert Mealy and the flutist Sandra Miller —alone was worth the trip to Trinity.

As tight as the entire ensemble was, I was consistently drawn to the pleasures of individual players. From the start of the Concerto No. 5, Ms. Miller played with a mellow, quietly penetrating tone. As the knotty rhythms of Concerto No. 1’s third-movement Allegro careened near chaos, Daniel Lee attacked his piccolo violin with alarming yet ravishing vehemence. The oboist Gonzalo Ruiz had a tender solo in that work’s second-movement Adagio.

Mr. Wachner announced before leading the Concerto No. 1 that his interpretation, unlike many, would not let the horns recede into the background. R. J. Kelley and Sara Cyrus played their hunting fanfares with blaring joy, giving the full measure of the work’s irresistible exuberance.

Sun, December 23, 2012

Culture City: A Song Is Worth 1,000 Words
The Wall Street Journal

While pop music is of its time, there were also concerts of timeless choral music. At Trinity Wall Street, the choir and orchestra presented Bach’s Mass in B Minor, a masterpiece that connects to the highs and lows of human life and reaches beyond the moment. “The singing human voice can just touch the soul in a way that nothing else can,” said conductor Julian Wachner. “There is intimacy and a directness to seeing 24 singers 10 feet away from you as opposed to at Madison Square Garden or on the radio.”

Sun, December 16, 2012

From Seething to Earnest, a Work Raises Passions
The New York Times

Led with both fearsome energy and delicate grace by Julian Wachner, the Trinity performance [of ‘Messiah’] was, like last year’s outing, a model of what is musically and emotionally possible with this venerable score…

Done right the oratorio should raise you from your seat. It should not be a passive entertainment, a way to relax after a long day of holiday shopping. It should frighten and galvanize, puzzle and inspire.

The Trinity “Messiah” did all that. It is hard to feel comfortable within the work, which abandons narrative for abstract meditation and consistency of tone for febrile shifts. This performance had inexorable, tense momentum through Handel’s violent mood swings.

The Trinity performance displayed a dazzling range of textures, from the starkness of the chorus “He trusted in God that he would deliver him” to the miraculously dissolving and rebuilding sound of the orchestral Pifa, the pastoral symphony in Part 1… experience the full, formidable range of “Messiah,” from the furious flames of the “refiner’s fire” to the delirious party of the finale, next year let Trinity be your guide.

Mon, December 10, 2012

50 years in, Rolling Stones still a gas, gas, gas
The Boston Globe

The band also played host to three guests: Mary J. Blige came out to testify on “Gimme Shelter,” the choir of Trinity Wall Street lent grandiose vocal ballast to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and buzzed-about blues rocker Gary Clark Jr. erupted all over “Going Down.”

Mon, December 10, 2012

With a flourish, the Rolling Stones take Brooklyn
The Star-Ledger

After an encore break, the group re-emerged, flanked by the Trinity Wall Street choir, who replicated the vocals on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Suddenly they were the smoky filling in a sandwich made on slices of angel food cake.

Mon, December 10, 2012

Rolling Stones Joined by Gary Clark Jr. and Mary J. Blige in Brooklyn

The Rolling Stones were joined by Mary J. Blige, Gary Clark Jr. and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street during their show at Brooklyn, NY’s Barclays Center last night. The band played a set that was heavy on the classics, though they did perform versions of their new singles “One More Shot” and “Doom and Gloom.” Blige made her appearance on “Gimme Shelter,” just as she had during the Stones’ November 25 show at London’s O2 Arena. Meanwhile, Clark brought his blues guitar wizardry to a rendition of Don Nix’s “Going Down,” while The Choir of Trinity Wall Street contributed some grandiosity to the opening of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Mon, December 10, 2012

Rolling Stones Celebrate 50th Anniversary At New York Show

As was the case with [The Rolling Stones’] massively successful shows at London’s O2 Arena last month, the band had a few surprises under their sleeves for the eager crowd, and as was the case in London, Mary J Blige joined the rockers on stage to belt out the hit ‘Gimme Shelter.’ The band also brought out blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr and the Trinity Wall Street Choir to perform on ‘Going Down’ and ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ respectively.

Sun, November 11, 2012

An Opera Lover’s Buffet of What Is in the Works
The New York Times

New York City Opera hosted its annual speed-dating event on Thursday night at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University. The 13th installment of the company’s Vox Contemporary American Opera Lab allowed suitors from opera companies across the country to size up six works in progress for potential production, as scenes from each were sung by a fine roster of young singers under the direction of Julian Wachner.

Sun, November 11, 2012

Music in Review: Trinity Choir
The New York Times

As Julian Wachner, the music director of the Trinity Choir and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, said before a concert at Trinity Church on Saturday evening, “It’s no small feat to throw together a B minor Mass in three days.”

He was referring to Bach’s monumental work, which the ensembles prepared at short notice for a fund-raiser dedicated to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Wachner added that they could have chosen something easier, but that this piece — a Roman Catholic Mass by a Lutheran composer — “speaks to a wide variety of human emotions…”

The choir produced a full-blooded sound that belied its small size, boosted by spirited playing from the period-instrument orchestra. The vocal soloists — who included Sherezade Panthaki, Jolle Greenleaf, Dashon Burton and Kirsten Sollek — sang beautifully.

Thu, November 1, 2012

Review: Ruehr Choral Works

...the singing, playing and production are all first-class.

Read Full Text

RUEHR Choral Works

A cappella choral works from Boston-based composer

Malcolm Riley

Cricket, Spider, Bee
Gospel Cha Cha

Three American poets supply the texts for this enterprising release of music by Michigan-born, Juilliard-trained Elena Ruehr (b1963). She is probably best known for her chamber music and forays into dance and silent film.

Her setting of Emily Dickinson’s Cricket, Spider, Bee (the earliest work on the disc, dating from 1996) makes a charming eight-minute triptych. Langston Hughes’s Gospel Cha Cha (2000) provides a word-painter’s paradise. Here, Ruehr successfully blends such diverse musical references as 18th-century French courtly dances and Ghanaian drumming, while eschewing an overtly jazzy style.

The programme’s centrepiece is the recent 11-movement cantata Averno from 2010. Stylistically there is little to frighten the horses, with a fondness for diatonic, repeated phrases, occasional funky, irregular bar-lengths and a solid sense of ebb and flow in the musical narrative. The text is taken from a selection of poems by the Pulitzer prize-winner Louise Glück (b1943) and retells the dark story of Demeter, goddess of the earth, and her daughter Persephone. Due to the complexity of some of the vocal writing it is essential that the libretto is on hand. The scoring is a marvel of delicacy and brought to mind the fleeting lightness of John Williams’s score for Catch me if you can. At other moments there are hints of early Kenneth Leighton, especially in the writing for oboe and strings.

Of the two soloists, baritone Stephen Salters gives the more searingly satisfying performance. Marguerite Krull’s vibrato, recorded at close quarters, can become wearing. Otherwise the singing, playing and production are all first-class.

Sun, October 7, 2012

Keeping Up the Spirit of Bach and Carrying On
The New York Times

Mr. Wachner and his responsive troops performed with an irresistible spirit and a lilt that had some of the tourist passers-by swaying, almost dancing, along. And this goes to the heart of Bach at One’s accomplishment: it has made Bach, like St. Paul’s Chapel, part of the fabric of life in Lower Manhattan.

Tue, September 25, 2012

Two splendid historically-informed recent Handel oratorio releases
Classical Music Examiner

Both of these are absolutely delightful performances. Both groups appreciate the significance of the narrative and allow it to unfold at a suitably brisk, but never rushed, pace. The balancing of resources is always impeccably managed; and the historically-informed sonorities are absolutely ravishing…

At this point, however, I must confess to a certain “local boy” preference. Trinity Church may be on the opposite side of the country from my San Francisco base, but I was delighted to encounter many familiar names in the personnel listing for both the Choir and the Orchestra. These were names I recognized from historically informed performances that I have experienced in San Francisco, particularly by Philharmonia Baroque and the American Bach Soloists, whose summer festival, based at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, attracts some of the best talent for this repertoire on a global scale. I also appreciated that all the solo selections in HWV 54 were taken by members of the choir, rather than “special guest stars.”

In addition this recording is a valuable scholarly document for HWV 54…All these factors join to make this new recording of Israel in Egypt a valuable addition to anyone’s collection of recordings.

Sun, September 9, 2012

Spotlighting Prizewinning Composers
The New York Times

The music program of Trinity Wall Street, which was largely suspended and seemed in jeopardy in the spring as the church’s vestry was reassessing its costs and purposes, has come roaring back for the new season, more varied than ever. Under the direction of Julian Wachner the program has become a hotbed of early music, and Mr. Wachner has said that among other innovations he plans to do the same for contemporary music, giving greater scope to Trinity’s instrumental ensemble Novus NY.

The season opened on Thursday with the first in a series of four midday concerts called Twelve in 12, celebrating the Pulitzer Prize-winning composers of the last dozen years. The idea, Mr. Wachner said in opening remarks, came from Trinity’s “striving for excellence.” Where better to find it musically than among Pulitzer winners?

Sat, September 8, 2012

Original Music Workshop: “Skyful”
The New Yorker

In rapidly gentrifying Williamsburg, the attorney, organist, and impresario D. Kevin Dolan has made a last stand for culture by planning a new performance space on the spot of the old National Sawdust factory. In an open-air preview of things to come, the organization offers “Skyful,” an event that features “Inverted Sky,” an installation by the artist Erika Harrsch with music by Mario Diaz de Leon and Julian Wachner (performed by the flutists Claire Chase and Eric Lamb from the International Contemporary Ensemble), as well as performances by Brooklyn Rider, the Talea Ensemble, the soprano Tony Arnold, and the Mexican vocalist Magos Herrera.

Thu, September 6, 2012

A Watershed Moment For Early Music
The New York Times

Trinity Wall Street has gotten past last season’s crisis in its music program and — under its energetic music director, Julian Wachner — now features what Mr. Wachner calls the closest thing New York has to a permanent, regularly performing Baroque orchestra…

“This is truly a time when New York City can actually be big for early music,” Mr. Wachner said in an interview. “We’ll see how New York audiences do with it.”

Mr. Wachner has emerged as an influential voice on the scene since taking over Trinity’s music program two years ago. This season his professional Trinity Choir and Baroque Orchestra again offer a series of Monday performances called Bach at One, consisting mostly of Bach cantatas. The church’s second Twelfth Night Festival, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 6, will include Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” and his “Brandenburg” Concertos; Elizabethan Christmas music, performed by Parthenia, a respected quartet of viols; Monteverdi’s “Vespers,” by Jolle Greenleaf’s Green Mountain Project; and Monteverdi madrigals, by Tenet. Gotham Early Music Scene, a presenter and promoter, is helping to put on the festival.

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