Press

Tue, December 4, 2018

The 2018 Professionals of the Year
Musical America

In 2010, when Julian Wachner was appointed to his current position at the historic Trinity Wall Street (founded 1769), the Financial District was still recovering from the devastating effects of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. In the intervening eight years he has had an outsize impact on New York’s musical life. Wachner oversees an annual season of hundreds of events as curator, conductor, composer, organist, and sometimes all of the above simultaneously. In 2016, he completed the first cycle of his signature project Bach at One, presenting all the Bach cantatas; this season he has expanded the series into Bach + One, pairing one work by the master with one or more pieces by other composers. Under his direction, programs are performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, ensembles that he has brought to a new level and are considered by many to be the best of their kind in the city.

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Julian Wachner

Director of Music and Arts Trinity Wall Street

Composer

In 2010, when Julian Wachner was appointed to his current position at the historic Trinity Wall Street (founded 1769), the Financial District was still recovering from the devastating effects of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. In the intervening eight years he has had an outsize impact on New York’s musical life. Wachner oversees an annual season of hundreds of events as curator, conductor, composer, organist, and sometimes all of the above simultaneously. In 2016, he completed the first cycle of his signature project Bach at One, presenting all the Bach cantatas; this season he has expanded the series into Bach + One, pairing one work by the master with one or more pieces by other composers. Under his direction, programs are performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, ensembles that he has brought to a new level and are considered by many to be the best of their kind in the city.

His early-music reputation notwithstanding, Wachner is also founding director of the new music orchestra NOVUS NY, which has premiered such works as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angel’s Bone, by Du Yun, and Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves. He also conducted the Grammy-award winning recording of Anthracite Fields by Julia Wolfe (Musical America’s 2019 Composer of the Year) with the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street. With these forces and as a guest conductor, Wachner has led performances around the world, from Honolulu to Utrecht. He continues to compose, with a large catalog of vocal, orchestral, sacred, and secular works. Among his operas, the most recent is Rev. 23, an eclectic farce about an imagined second Book of Revelations, set to an original libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winner Cerise Lim Jacobs. The piece premiered last season in Boston and finds its way to New York’s Prototype Festival in 2020, another one of Wachner’s myriad musical contributions to the city’s cultural life. — Susan Brodie

Thu, November 15, 2018

7 Classical Music Concerts to See in N.Y.C. This Weekend
The New York Times

Julian Wachner conducts his excellent choir in Rachmaninoff’s unreasonably beautiful “Vespers.” As ever, their music making — some of the best in the city — is available free of charge.

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7 Classical Music Concerts to See in N.Y.C. This Weekend

By David Allen

Nov. 15, 2018

Our guide to the city’s best classical music and opera happening this weekend and in the week ahead.

BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at Carnegie Hall (Nov. 19, 8 p.m.). Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony have been more than a little patchy in their recent concerts at their own Symphony Hall, but they always up their game on tour. In this first of three performances this season at Carnegie — the other two are in March — they perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and HK Gruber’s “Aerial,” a trumpet concerto written for the evening’s soloist, Hakan Hardenberger.
212-247-7800, carnegiehall.org

CHOIR OF TRINITY WALL STREET at St. Paul’s Chapel (Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.). Julian Wachner conducts his excellent choir in Rachmaninoff’s unreasonably beautiful “Vespers.” As ever, their music making — some of the best in the city — is available free of charge.
212-602-0800, trinitywallstreet.org

DANISH STRING QUARTET at the 92nd Street Y (Nov. 17, 8 p.m.). Come for the beards, stay for the music with this outstanding young foursome from Scandinavia, who bring a program completely typical of their art. They start with Haydn, the second of the Op. 20 quartets, and end with Beethoven, the first of the “Razumovsky” quartets. In the middle comes the first quartet by Hans Abrahamsen, “10 Preludes,” which these players recorded stylishly on ECM two years ago.
212-415-5500, 92y.org

JUAN DIEGO FLÓREZ at Carnegie Hall (Nov. 18, 2 p.m.). The Peruvian tenor, he of the encores at the Met a decade ago, gives a recital that predictably features his usual Donizetti and Rossini, but also takes in slightly heavier repertoire, including Verdi, Massenet, Gounod and Puccini. Vincenzo Scalera is at the piano.
212-247-7800, carnegiehall.org

ISABEL LEPANTO GLEICHER at Miller Theater (Nov. 20, 6 p.m.). This flutist on the rise has put together an appetizing program for her pop-up recital in Morningside Heights, one that includes a premiere from Barry Sharp as well as music by Aaron Helgeson, Toshio Hosokawa, David Lang, Frederic Rzewski and Hildegard von Bingen. The concert is free and so are the drinks.
212-854-7799, millertheatre.com

NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC at David Geffen Hall (Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m.; through Nov. 24). Emmanuelle Haïm, a spirited specialist in the Baroque, leads early-music favorites including two of the suites from Handel’s “Water Music,” a Handel Concerto Grosso and selections from Rameau’s opera “Dardanus.”
212-875-5656, nyphil.org

‘ONLY THE SOUND REMAINS’ at the Rose Theater (Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 18, 5 p.m.). Setting Ezra Pound’s translations of two Japanese Noh one-act plays to music, Kaija Saariaho’s 2016 operamakes its United States debut as part of the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center. Peter Sellars directs the singers Philippe Jarousky and Davóne Tines and the dancer Nora Kimball-Mentzos in a production conducted by Ernest Martínez Izquierdo. 212-721-6500, lincolncenter.org

Thu, November 8, 2018

Rachmaninoff’s Lost Russia, Captured in his ‘Vespers’
The Epoch Times

Wachner has conducted the “Vespers” so many times over the course of his career that he says, “It’s sort of in my blood.”

“It’s one of the most gorgeous pieces for a cappella choir that I know of,” Wachner said. “It’s one of those perfect marriages of text and music.”

Wachner is an award-winning and prolific composer-conductor whose journey in music began with sacred choral song. In witnessing excellent choral music, you see “this manifestation of people working together to create beauty,” he said. “To create something greater than the sum of its parts. I think the philosophy of that is incredibly beautiful, and incredibly important.”

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Rachmaninoff’s Lost Russia, Captured in his ‘Vespers’

Hear the masterpiece at St. Paul’s Chapel by the Choir of Trinity Church on Nov. 16

BY CATHERINE YANG, EPOCH TIMES
November 8, 2018/Updated: November 12, 2018

For most, the brilliant composer Sergei Rachmaninoff brings to mind powerful piano works and an iconic, unequivocally Russian sound.

Few think of him as a particularly religious character, and so most are in awe when hearing his unique sacred piece the “All-Night Vigil,” largely known to audiences as the “Vespers.”

Deeply profound, the challenging work has become one of the vital pieces of choral repertoire around the world, yet it was banned from performance in Rachmaninoff’s homeland of Russia for 70 years.

Rachmaninoff’s Russia

“The sound of church bells dominated all the cities of the Russia I used to know—Novgorod, Kyiv, Moscow,” Rachmaninoff wrote in 1913. “They accompanied every Russian from childhood to the grave, and no composer could escape their influence.

“All my life, I have taken pleasure in the differing moods and music of gladly chiming and mournfully tolling bells. This love for bells is inherent in every Russian. … If I have been at all successful in making bells vibrate with human emotion in my works, it is largely due to the fact that most of my life was lived amid vibrations of the bells of Moscow.”

Rachmaninoff’s time as a composer actually coincided with the re-emergence of Russian sacred choral music in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. After about a century of mixed foreign influences on Russian choral music, and then its falling out of popularity because of censors, Prince Vladimir Fyodorovich Odoyevsky helped bring Russian liturgical music back to society.

Odoyevsky was a writer, musicologist, and a founding member of the Russian Musical Society. He brought together many musicians interested in studying these liturgical chants, as well as old books and manuscripts, eventually providing the composers and musicians at the time with a foundation for new sacred works.

According to Vladimir Morosan, founder of music publisher Musica Russica, one of the leading forces in the New Russian Choral School of music was the Moscow Synodal Choir, which began as a sort of mediocre church choir in the 1880s and burgeoned into a first-rate musical ensemble. It was one of the composers at the Moscow Synodal School, Stepan Smolensky, whose encouragement and advice led Rachmaninoff to complete a number of his sacred works, and to whom Rachmaninoff dedicated the “All-Night Vigil.”

The “Vespers” is a notoriously difficult work, one reason being that the text is Church Slavonic, and the pronunciations and grammar can seem arcane and foreign to even native Russian speakers.

The text was new to Rachmaninoff too, but the result was that he pored over the text of the hymns in working on the “Vespers,” setting each line to poetic, powerful effect. The piece, to this day, feels fantastically fresh.

It is an a cappella piece that includes no instrumental support and requires incredible intonation. It also includes very low bass parts and many vocal lines, making it as difficult as it is unique.

This piece was composed and premiered in 1915, by which time public concerts of sacred choral works had become part of daily life in Russia. Well-known churches would put out programs in advance, Morosan wrote. Opera soloists would be invited to sing in churches, and at some places, people were coming specifically for the music or singers.

But by 1917, two years later, censors came down on the sacred works of famous composers: Rachmaninoff, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Mily Balakirev, to name a few. This was Rachmaninoff’s last sacred choral work.

The Revolution

“There’s a sense of something revolutionary to it, ironically enough because the piece was composed and then not allowed to be performed in its country of origin for decades because of the communist dealings with religion,” Julian Wachner, music director at Trinity Church Wall Street, said by phone. Wachner will be conducting the Trinity Choir in an evening performance—new for the church, as Lower Manhattan increasingly becomes a nighttime destination—on Nov. 16 at St. Paul’s Chapel. 

Indeed, in 1917 the Russian Revolution led to the rise of the Soviet Union, which was ruled by the Communist Party and sought to dismantle religion and faith as one of its first tasks.

“We must combat religion—that is the ABC of all materialism, and consequently of Marxism,” Vladimir Lenin wrote. Only weeks after the party took power, it removed all references to religion from the school curriculum. Then it moved on to demolishing or repurposing churches and other religious spaces, killing clergymen by the thousands, and sending intellectuals to camps.

As a result, many sacred musical works were banned in the Soviet Union.

Rachmaninoff was among a number of composers who left Russia after this. During the war, he had returned home one day to find his home seized by the Social Revolutionary Party and in chaos. He left, vowing never to return, and performed concerts from country to country until he settled in the United States. In 1918, he and his family moved to New York City.

Rachmaninoff never returned to Russia. In his years abroad, the composer only completed six works, including his Symphony No. 3.

“I left behind the desire to compose: Losing my country, I lost myself also,” he said in a 1934 interview. “To the exile whose musical roots, traditions, and background have been annihilated, there remains no desire for self-expression.”

Beautiful Nostalgia

Wachner has conducted the “Vespers” so many times over the course of his career that he says, “It’s sort of in my blood.”

“It’s one of the most gorgeous pieces for a cappella choir that I know of,” Wachner said. “It’s one of those perfect marriages of text and music.”

Wachner is an award-winning and prolific composer-conductor whose journey in music began with sacred choral song. In witnessing excellent choral music, you see “this manifestation of people working together to create beauty,” he said. “To create something greater than the sum of its parts. I think the philosophy of that is incredibly beautiful, and incredibly important.”

Great art has the power to transform and transport you, and Rachmaninoff’s choral masterpiece paints a beautiful image of his lost Russia. It was one of his last works before his self-imposed exile, during which he became known more as a pianist than a composer.

“There’s a feeling of nostalgia in this work,” Wachner said. At the same time, there are notes that point to a more hopeful future.

“There’s a lot of emotion involved in this,” Wachner said. “This is the type of piece that definitely people will feel goose bumps. They will be in awe of the beauty of it. And I think there will be some sort of transformational feeling of leaving their workday or their difficulties in life, being transported to this place of pure beauty and joy. So I think that’s a very powerful statement.”

Fri, October 19, 2018

Encompass New Opera Theatre Presents “Anna Christie” at Baruch Performing Arts Center
Feast of Music

Thomas’s score is expertly crafted and tuneful, strongly underscoring the emotional swings of the action: from tender scenes of love, to brash brawls on the barge. Credit must also be given to conductor Julian Wachner, who expertly wrings a lush, large sound from the small orchestra.

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Encompass New Opera Theatre Presents "Anna Christie" at Baruch Performing Arts Center

by Steven Pisano

Of all the great American playwrights of the last hundred years, Eugene O'Neill has plumbed deeper and darker into the classic American identity than any other. Yet somehow, his work has not attracted composers who might turn his stage creations into operas. Perhaps they've thought there was little to offer on top of O'Neill's own symphonic and often operatic writing. (Personally, I've long believed that any number ofTennessee Williams's plays would make great operas, but that's another story.)

The Encompass New Opera Theatre is now presenting the world premiere of an opera based on O'Neill's early play Anna Christie at the Baruch Performing Arts Center through this Sunday, 10/21. Anna Christiewon the Pulitzer Prize in 1922, but is probably best remembered in its movie version, where Greta Garbo first spoke on screen.

Composer Edward Thomas and librettist Joseph Masteroff have created a condensed version of the play, directed by Encompass's artistic director, Nancy Rhodes. Masteroff, who died just last month at the age of 98, will long be remembered in Broadway circles as the book writer on the classic shows She Loves Me andCabaret--and for lovers of failed musicals, 70, Girls, 70. Meanwhile, Thomas is still going strong at 94!

The production is simply staged, but carries a strong punch. Veteran actor Frank Basile brings vibrant vocal power and a palpable humanity to the role of Anna's father, Chris Christopherson (a.k.a., Old Chris), which is very much the central character of the drama. In fact, when O'Neill first penned the play, he originally named it Chris Christopherson, and only changed the name after transforming Anna from a pure young woman to a prostitute looking for redemption.

Melanie Long sings the role of Anna with a beautifully silky soprano that has great texture. Her Anna is strong and proud.  

Jonathan Estabrooks gives a multifaceted performance as Mat Burke, a sailor rescued from a shipwreck in a storm. At first, he is rough, dirty, and sings like a sailor, but as he and Anna begin to fall in love aboard the coal barge that Old Chris captains, his arias grow noticeably sweeter.

In a character actor highlight, Joy Hermalyn brings a salty humor and world-weariness to the barfly Marthy Owen. Mike Pirozzi brings earthy charm to the role of Larry the Bartender.

Thomas's score is expertly crafted and tuneful, strongly underscoring the emotional swings of the action: from tender scenes of love, to brash brawls on the barge. Credit must also be given to conductor Julian Wachner, who expertly wrings a lush, large sound from the small orchestra.

Sun, October 14, 2018

Talkin’ Broadway Review: Anna Christie
Talkin' Broadway

As an opera, this version of Anna Christie is emotionally and musically thrilling, and the score by Edward Thomas is perfectly suited to the material and the characters. The music alternates between moments of aching longing, jaunty American folk rhythms, and sumptuous melodies. Many of the harmonies are indeed quite lovely, and Chris’s “Old Devil Sea” motif provides a dark foreboding sentiment that enhances the piece’s fatalistic mood. While the music is often lush and romantic, it does not jar with the underclass characters and circumstances. [Julian Wachner] drew fine work from the fourteen-piece orchestra.

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Off Broadway Reviews

Anna Christie

Theatre Review by James Wilson - October 14, 2018

When silent film star Greta Garbo transitioned to talking movies with her performance of Anna Christie in Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize winning-play of the same name, the marketing campaigns exclaimed, "Garbo Talks!" Nearly ninety years later with a new opera version of O'Neill's play, the press might write, "Anna Christie Sings!" More accurately, that should be "Anna Christie Sings — Again!" since Bob Merrill and George Abbott had adapted the play as a 1957 Broadway musical called New Girl in Town with Gwen Verdon as its star. Still, the laudable Encompass New Opera Theatre's world premiere of Anna Christie makes a compelling case for giving O'Neill's damaged heroine a fresh and potent voice.

Joseph Masteroff, who wrote the books for She Loves Me and Cabaret (and who died just shortly before the opera went into rehearsal), has written a libretto that hews closely to O'Neill's play. Anna (Melanie Long), a former prostitute, has arrived from Minnesota to reconnect with her father, Chris Christopherson (Frank Basile), whom she has not seen since she was five years old. Christopherson, a gruff but likeable drunk, lives on a barge and offers Anna a place to live.

After a shipwreck near Provincetown, Christopherson's crew rescues a young stoker, Mat Burke (Jonathan Estabrooks), and Anna nurses him back to health. They make a volatile pair, especially when Anna reveals her past, and the relationship shows the limits of and possibilities for forgiveness and redemption.

As an opera, this version of Anna Christie is emotionally and musically thrilling, and the score by Edward Thomas is perfectly suited to the material and the characters. The music alternates between moments of aching longing, jaunty American folk rhythms, and sumptuous melodies. Many of the harmonies are indeed quite lovely, and Chris's "Old Devil Sea" motif provides a dark foreboding sentiment that enhances the piece's fatalistic mood. While the music is often lush and romantic, it does not jar with the underclass characters and circumstances. Guest conductor Mark Shapiro (who stepped in for Julian Wachner) drew fine work from the fourteen-piece orchestra.

Under Nancy Rhodes's unfussy and excellent direction, the performers are outstanding. Long, a mezzo-soprano with a superb voice, is a steely and resolute Anna. As the opera progresses, she gradually unpeels the accumulated toughness to reveal the pain and anger resulting from a childhood of sexual abuse. As Mat, baritone Estabrooks is appropriately unpredictable with a tendency toward violent eruptions. There are moments, though, in which Mat's boyishness emerges (especially when he giddily sings about marrying Anna), and Anna's love seems perfectly justified.

Perhaps best of all is Basile, whose powerful bass baritone makes Chris a force of nature. Vocally and emotionally, he conveys the attitude of an individual lashing out at the universe, and he simultaneously offers a glimpse of a remorseful man trying to repair the damage he has inflicted on his family. It is an exhilarating performance.

As Marthy, Chris's goodtime girl and Jimmy-the-Priest's saloon regular, mezzo-soprano Joy Hermalyn also deserves mention. She provides comic relief and captures the portrayal of a denizen of an O'Neill dive bar perfectly. Mike Pirozzi rounds out the cast in the role of the non-singing, but efficient bartender.

Theatrically, the opera does not disappoint. Charles Wittreich has designed a versatile set that transforms from saloon to barge deck to barge interior, and Angela Huff's costumes are gritty and period specific. Likewise, Colin Chauche's lighting is moody and atmospheric, perfectly complementing the emotional subtext. The projections by Wittreich, Lachlin Loud, and Daniel Conner are especially commendable. During the at-sea scenes the upstage wall is consumed by a shimmering, expansive sea. Highlighting the isolation, loneliness, and puniness of the characters, the effect is devastating.

At a time when sexual abuse and assault on women are part of the national conversation, Anna Christie is more relevant than ever. This operatic treatment does not minimize the issue. After nearly a century after the original play premiered, the opera reminds the audience of the importance of hearing the stories of survivors in whatever form they are told — or sung.

Sat, October 13, 2018

A world premiere: Anna Christie
Schmopera

It’s the wall-to-wall music of Mr. Thomas that is the star of the show. Poignant strains of harp, flute, and clarinet float over the haunting chords and motives, played by the strings and other members of the fourteen-piece ensemble (adroitly [led by] conductor Julian Wachner, who leads all other performances). The effect is a combination of beauty and sadness, much like Anna Christie herself.

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A WORLD PREMIERE: ANNA CHRISTIE

October 13, 2018

by Loren Lester

Anna Christie, presented by the Encompass New Opera Theatre does not, in fact, add anything to the world of what we know as opera. The world premiere of Anna Christie (an adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's famous play by the same name) is something special, though - a genre-defying combo of drama and music that doesn't fit into any established category (i.e., "a play with music"). Director Nancy Rhodes describes it as "crossover" but it might be more appropriate to call it "criss-cross over"; the music never stops and the singers mostly sing, but sometimes halt to utter a comment, exclamation, or quick exchange of dialogue. The combination always feels just right, as the emotions and/or whimsy of the characters rise and fall.

Making the evening more unusual is the fact that this Anna Christie is the creation of two nonagenarians, composer Edward Thomas (age 94) and the late librettist Joseph Masteroff (who passed away just before opening night at the age of 98). The run of the show is, in fact, dedicated to Mr. Masteroff, who was famous in the musical theatre world for writing the books for Cabaret and She Loves Me. Mr. Masteroff did a brilliant job of condensing the original five-act play and distilling its essence into two acts and two hours.

Mr. Thomas, who has composed everything from "Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra" to album cuts for great voices like Julie Andrews, shows here that he knows and loves the theatre. He has written a handful of other pieces for the stage, including a musical about Mata Hari (with lyrics by Martin Charnin). Anna Christie is his third collaboration with Mr. Masteroff, including another adaptation of an O'Neill play (Desire Under the Elms).

It's the wall-to-wall music of Mr. Thomas that is the star of the show. Poignant strains of harp, flute, and clarinet float over the haunting chords and motives, played by the strings and other members of the fourteen-piece ensemble (adroitly guest-conducted this night by Mark Shapiro filling in for conductor Julian Wachner, who leads all other performances). The effect is a combination of beauty and sadness, much like Anna Christie herself.

There are only a few brief duets and arias – the majority of the piece can only be described as recitative but Mr. Thomas proves that recitative can be melodious and that modern music doesn't have to create the distance of dissonance (two more genre-busting ideas). The emotional response it all creates is similar to what one feels from a great film score.

The movie version of Anna Christie is perhaps even more famous than the play. Starring Greta Garbo in her first post-silent film ("Garbo Talks!" screamed the posters), it contains one of film's most memorable lines: "Give me a whiskey. Ginger ale on the side. And don't be stingy, baby." The play, film and this operatic version, all have the same plot. Set in 1919 at a New York City waterfront, it's the story of Anna (played here by soprano Melanie Long) who is described as "all in" – she's broke, homeless, exhausted and barely on the other side of a life-threatening illness. With no one in her life and nowhere to go, she decides to visit Chris Christopherson (bass Frank Basile), the father she’s never met. She's hoping he'll let her stay so that she can "sit down and not move" for a while. He lives in an area teaming with sailors, however, and shipwrecked Mat Burke (baritone Jonathan Estabrooks) proves to be an inevitable source of passion and trouble that will give Anna no rest.

Christopherson is filled with guilt and regret over his abandonment of Anna when she was a child, and blames not only himself but the pull of "that old devil sea." He looks back on his life and laments over the fact that he has never been able to stay on land long enough (or save enough money) to help raise his daughter. Having been a sailor all his life, he's not about to let a sailor into Anna's. Though Burke seems to be more sincere than most, Christopherson feels he must protect Anna, even to the point of murder.

There's no spoiler in telling you that Anna is a prostitute. We learn that right away from the comments of Marthy (in a brief but funny/endearing performance by Joy Hermalyn) and from Larry the Bartender (a non-singing role played by Mike Pirozzi, who looks and sounds exactly like the proprietor of "some dive.") Like the plaintive flute in the score, the sad truth hangs over the whole affair and we know it will only be a matter of time until Anna will be forced to admit her whole story, not only to her father, but to the sailor she has come to love.

Mr. Basile as "Chris" possesses a deep, soulful Bass who – if you'll excuse the reference – serves as the anchor to the entire proceedings. A top-notch actor, Mr. Basile masterfully conveys the pain and regret of the old sailor, both inside and outside of the musical notes.

Echoing and complementing the ever-present wind instruments in the score, Ms. Long has a lovely, flute-like voice. She is at first, flat – not in her singing, which is pitch-perfect – but in her detached, fatigued and emotionless portrayal of Anna. It's not clear what she's up to, but it all proves to be a great set-up for the big revelation scene in Act II, where we see the fire of agony which has been burning way down inside the cold furnace.

Mr. Thomas has given the title character the best musical moments. In the first act, Ms. Long expresses her fascination with the fog and sea in one of the evening's few stand-alone arias. And in the second act, Anna has two confrontational arias – one where she mocks Chris and his wish to own a "country house". "Houses in the country" are not what they seem to be, Anna begins, and she ends with a sarcastic description of what a wedding/marriage with Mat will be like. When Mat enters later, she finally confesses her love for him in the beautiful "I love you more than you know" but nevertheless must say goodbye – all just the groundwork for the riveting solo which follows, where she reveals the details of her past.

As Mat, Jonathan Estabrooks has vocal power, but is not quite there with some of the notes that tiptoe into the tenor range. Overall he's a bit overboard (pun intended), and has made the physical choice to be what one can only describe as "herky-jerky." Ultimately, though, he manages to be sympathetic, capturing the essence of the character, who is described as a man who is "just a kid."

Director Rhodes is a veteran director who makes the most of the intimate stage and keeps the restless characters appropriately "on the move." There is an attempted rape in the first act that she has choreographed to harrowing effect.

Ms. Rhodes is also one of the co-founders of the Encompass New Opera Theatre, which has been presenting shows for over forty years. They present one fully-staged production with orchestra each season, and have concerts and staged readings throughout the year.

Anna Christie runs through October 24th, at the Rose Nagelburg Theatre, inside the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

Sat, October 6, 2018

Operatic treatment of O’Neill’s “Anna Christie” makes a long, confused journey into night
New York Classical Review

It was a real coup for Encompass to get Julian Wachner, the impressive music director of Trinity Wall Street’s musical programs, to conduct. He managed to get a tight performance out of a not-very-polished chamber orchestra, and found rich color in a score mostly driven by light melodies.

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Operatic treatment of O’Neill’s “Anna Christie” makes a long, confused journey into night

Sat Oct 06, 2018 at 12:06 pm
By Eric C. Simpson

Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie has quite a pedigree as a dramatic work: the play won the 1922 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and its 1930 screen adaptation featured the celebrated talkie debut of Greta Garbo. The story of a young woman trying to move beyond her troubled past by reconnecting with her father, is, like much of O’Neill’s oeuvre, a brooding work of static intensity.

Unfortunately, the operatic treatment premiered by Encompass New Opera Theatre this week, with music by Edward Thomas and a libretto by the late Joseph Masteroff, was a frustrating experience, feeling listless and confused in its performance Friday night at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

This isn’t Thomas & Masteroff’s first crack at O’Neill: they collaborated previously on an operatic adaptation of Desire Under the Elms. Masteroff himself was an old hand in theater, having written the books for Cabaret and She Loves Me. 

Their realization of Anna Christie has a severe pacing problem, much of which is the fault of the libretto: where it doesn’t drag, it leaves no room for the text to breathe, never stopping to let the audience catch up. Anna’s discovery, less than two minutes after being viciously attacked by Matt, that she finds him oddly charming anyway, is only the most glaring example.

Thomas’s music holds a lot of interest: airy harmonies, punchy rhythms, strong musical identities for the characters. But sonority and ease of melody= are the primary characteristics of his work, and, however pleasing to hear, they don’t produce the necessary feeling of disquiet. On a basic level, the work suffers because it loses the uncomfortable silences that are integral to the experience of O’Neill’s drama and fails to replace that tension with something else.

Melanie Long made the most of the title role, showing a caramel-colored mezzo-soprano of middling weight. Her interactions with the rest of the cast hinted at strong dramatic talent, but she didn’t have much of a chance to explore her character deeply, having to shuttle along from one overly fast scene to the next.

Jonathan Estabrooks brought a sinewy baritone to the role of Matt. His burly, rough, portrayal of a hot-tempered young sailor was convincing, but gliding right past the violence of his first interaction with Anna made it impossible later on for an observer to buy into their relationship.

The standout in the cast was Frank Basile as Anna’s father, the old barge-captain Chris Christopherson, singing with a firm bass-baritone with a warm haze on it. Of all of the cast, he was the most fascinating to watch, hinting at a rich inner life even on the periphery of a scene. This was a moving portrayal of a weary man utterly devoted to his daughter and doing everything he can to mend the past with her.

Joy Hermalyn brought a brassy mezzo-soprano and prickly bearing as Marthy, a colorful old regular at Chris’s favorite dingy pub. Mike Pirozzi was affable in the speaking role of Larry, the bartender.

It was a real coup for Encompass to get Julian Wachner, the impressive music director of Trinity Wall Street’s musical programs, to conduct. He managed to get a tight performance out of a not-very-polished chamber orchestra, and found rich color in a score mostly driven by light melodies.

Anna Christie runs through October 21 at Baruch Performing Arts Center. encompasstheatre.org

Thu, October 4, 2018

Top 6 Operas To See This Weekend – USA
Operawire

Another world premiere is set to take place in New York, reminding us that opera is thriving. While the world premiere for this opera by composer Edward Thomas and librettist Joseph Masteroff is set for Thursday, audiences will get a chance to check it out this Friday as well, with subsequent performances set for the 12, 19 and 21st, of October. Julian Wachner conducts an ensemble cast that includes Frank Basile, Melanie Long, Johnathan Estabrooks, Joy Hermalyn, and Mike Pirozzi.

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Top 6 Operas To See This Weekend – USA (10/5-7)
The Mile Long-Opera Coincides With Opening Night In Washington, Pittsburgh & Chicago

By David Salazar

We have another six offerings this week because a number of companies are getting their season started. You’ll see two world premieres among this week mixed in with some repertory favorites.

The Mile Long Opera: A Biography of 7 O’Clock – The High Line

Looking for a unique experience in New York City? “The Mile-Long Opera” is probably going to be something unlike anything that you have ever seen before. And on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you can be privy to 1,000 singers coming together on the High Line for a public engagement project that will undoubtedly change your view of opera forever.

Anna Christie – Encompass Opera Theatre

Another world premiere is set to take place in New York, reminding us that opera is thriving. While the world premiere for this opera by composer Edward Thomas and librettist Joseph Masteroff is set for Thursday, audiences will get a chance to check it out this Friday as well, with subsequent performances set for the 12, 19 and 21st, of October. Julian Wachner conducts an ensemble cast that includes Frank Basile, Melanie Long, Johnathan Estabrooks, Joy Hermalyn, and Mike Pirozzi.

La Bohème – Lyric Opera of Chicago

The Lyric Opera of Chicago opens its new season with Michael Fabiano, Maria Agresta, Danielle De Niese, and Zachary Nelson, among others. That starry cast alone is enough reason to revisit this perennial classic.

In the Penal Colony – Opera Parallèle

Opera Parallèle opens its season with the Philip Glass work, giving a unique bit of counterprogramming to the more traditional works on display this weekend. Performances are set for Friday and Sunday. The cast includes Javier Abreu, Michael Mohammed, and Robert Orth.

Madama Butterfly – Pittsburgh Opera

Pittsburgh Opera also opens its season with Dina Kuznetsova in the starring role. Michael Mayes and Cody Austin also appear among the cast members in Puccini’s famed masterwork. The run kicks off on Saturday evening.

La Traviata – Washington National Opera

Finally, the Washington National Opera also opens its season with Verdi’s famed opera. This cast features the debuts of such artists Venera Gimadieva and Joshua Guerrero. Lucas Meachem will provide the star power in the cast as Germont. Renato Palumbo conducts a new production by Francesca Zambello. It all kicks off on Saturday evening!

Thu, September 13, 2018

5 Classical Music Concerts to See in N.Y.C. This Weekend
The New York Times

TERRY RILEY at National Sawdust (Sept. 15, 7 p.m.). Julian Wachner, who is an artist in residence at National Sawdust this year, leads Trinity Wall Street’s Novus NY ensemble in a program devoted mostly to this Minimalist master, including “Madrigal” and “Archangels.” There’s also music for a cello octet by Gity Razaz.

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5 Classical Music Concerts to See in N.Y.C. This Weekend

By David Allen

Sept. 13, 2018

Our guide to the city’s best classical music and opera happening this weekend and in the week ahead.

MIRANDA CUCKSON AND MICHAEL HERSCH at National Sawdust (Sept. 18, 8 p.m.). A leading composer, noted for works of bleak despair, as well as a notable pianist in his own right, plays with our leading contemporary-music violinist, able to take on the most difficult of works with seeming ease. Their concert should be among the more special ones you will hear at the start of the new season. Selections from Mr. Hersch’s music include “The Vanishing Pavilions,” “In the Snowy Margins,” “Fourteen Pieces” and “One Day May Become Menace.”
646-779-8455, nationalsawdust.org

GABRIEL KAHANE at Murmrr Ballroom (Sept. 20, 8 p.m.). A singer-songwriter of unerring quality, Mr. Kahane boarded a train the day after the 2016 presidential election and, phoneless, rode nearly 9,000 miles around the nation. “Book of Travelers,” a new album on Nonesuch, is the result, and you can hear it at this concert, too. Opening for him is Johnny Gandelsman, playing Bach.
lpr.com

NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC at David Geffen Hall (Sept. 14-15, 8 p.m., Sept. 20, 7 p.m.). “The Art of the Score” concludes this week with two performances featuring “2001: A Space Odyssey” and its soundtrack of Strauss, Ligeti and more. André de Ridder will be on the podium, but for previous screenings of Stanley Kubrick’s film in 2013, Alan Gilbert took the lead. His successor, Jaap van Zweden, conducts the opening gala concert — his first as the official music director — on Thursday, leading Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” Ravel’s Piano Concerto (with Daniil Trifonov) and the premiere of Ashley Fure’s “Filament.”
212-875-5656, nyphil.org

TERRY RILEY at National Sawdust (Sept. 15, 7 p.m.). Julian Wachner, who is an artist in residence at National Sawdust this year, leads Trinity Wall Street’s Novus NY ensemble in a program devoted mostly to this Minimalist master, including “Madrigal” and “Archangels.” There’s also music for a cello octet by Gity Razaz.
646-779-8455, nationalsawdust.org

TESLA QUARTET at Baryshnikov Arts Center (Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m.). This unusual program interrupts two decadent, late-Romantic quartets by Szymanowski and Debussy with Berio’s “Sequenza III” for solo voice. Alexandra Smither is the soprano. 646-731-3200, bacnyc.org

Wed, September 12, 2018

Goings On About Town
The New Yorker

First, the conductor Julian Wachner, the NOVUS NY orchestra, and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street join Riley to perform the trio of introspective, late-career works with which he helped christen the hall in 2015: “Madrigal,” “Archangels,” and “Remember This, O Mind.”

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CLASSICAL MUSIC

RECITALS

Terry Riley

The minimalist-music eminence opens this Williamsburg venue’s fourth season with back-to-back concerts. The spirit of “In C”—the 1964 piece that made Riley an undeniable force in contemporary music by combining repetition and improvisation—pervades the programs. First, the conductor Julian Wachner, the NOVUS NY orchestra, and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street join Riley to perform the trio of introspective, late-career works with which he helped christen the hall in 2015: “Madrigal,” “Archangels,” and “Remember This, O Mind.” For the late show, he is joined in an hour-long improvisation session by his son, the guitarist Gyan Riley, and by LCD Soundsystem’s synth-player extraordinaire, Gavin Rayna Russom.

— Oussama Zahr

Wed, September 12, 2018

Classical Fall Preview: Debuts, Premieres, a New Philharmonic Maestro
The New York Times

TRINITY WALL STREET It’s the 50th anniversary of the Concerts at One series, which has offered Bach and much else in lunchtime performances at this downtown spiritual (and musical) center. That’s just one facet of Trinity’s packed season. Some highlights: Oct. 12 brings an exploration of the church’s Anglican heritage (including a new work by its indefatigable music director, Julian Wachner); Nov. 16 features a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers; and on Dec. 1, Julia Wolfe’s “Anthracite Fields” comes to Carnegie Hall. New York’s essential “Messiah,” a roiling and vivid performance, also arrives in December, and a #MeToo-inspired festival in March includes Handel’s “Susanna,” Laura Elise Schwendinger’s “Artemesia” and works by Barbara Strozzi. trinitywallstreet.org.

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Classical Fall Preview: Debuts, Premieres, a New Philharmonic Maestro

By Zachary Woolfe

Sept. 12, 2018

This fall’s classical music calendar features more than 100 events. Dates are subject to change.

September

THE CROSSING Luminous and acute, this vocal ensemble, based in Philadelphia, deals with questions of war, peace and national identity in “Of Arms and the Man,” a mixed program at the Park Avenue Armory that includes a premiere by Ted Hearne. (The Crossing will bring another politically charged event, “The National Anthems,” featuring works by Mr. Hearne, David Lang and Caroline Shaw, to Peak Performances at Montclair State University on Sept. 29.) Sept. 19, armoryonpark.org.

JAAP VAN ZWEDEN The New York Philharmonic’s 26th music director, an exacting Dutch maestro who last brought the Dallas Symphony Orchestra into the top tier of American ensembles, begins his tenure this season. After the genial repertory explorations and playful experiments of Alan Gilbert, this may well be an era of more driven, even fussy performances. The opening gala introduces a work by Ashley Fure alongside a Ravel piano concerto, with Daniil Trifonov, and “The Rite of Spring.” Mr. van Zweden leads a similarly broad variety over the rest of the season, including premieres by Conrad Tao, David Lang (his opera “prisoner of the state”) and Julia Wolfe (“Fire in my mouth”), as well as works by Bruckner, Louis Andriessen (a focus this year), Britten, Shostakovich, Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Ives, John Adams, Schumann, Mahler and John Corigliano. “Phil the Hall,” in April, is intended to telegraph the Philharmonic’s new openness to its community; two series led by Nadia Sirota, “Nightcap” and “Sound On,” promise intimate encounters with contemporary music. The baritone Matthias Goerne is the artist in residence. (Mr. van Zweden will not, I repeat not, lead the “Home Alone” score, performed live with the film, Dec. 20-21.) Season opens on Sept. 20; nyphil.org.

OPERA PHILADELPHIA This company has been one of American opera’s success stories, recently reorienting its season toward a concentrated annual festival — O18, this year — that includes “Glass Handel” (see the Anthony Roth Costanzo listing below); the premiere of Lembit Beecher and Hannah Moscovitch’s “Sky on Swings,” with Frederica von Stade and Marietta Simpson; “Lucia di Lammermoor”; “Ne Quittez Pas,” a Poulenc riff with Edward Nelson and Patricia Racette; and “Queens of the Night.” Sept. 20-30, operaphila.org.

ANTHONY ROTH COSTANZO This gifted countertenor effortlessly bridges social and artistic worlds, as well as musical eras. He celebrates his new recording, “Glass Handel,” with a music-art-dance-theater-performance-fashion spectacle, with starry collaborators, at the Barnes Foundation as part of Opera Philadelphia’s O18 festival. (The show comes to the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York in November.) Sept. 22, 23 and 30, operaphila.org.

ODYSSEY OPERA There are intriguing halves to the season of this bold Boston company, which is led by Gil Rose and opens with a pair of Gounod rarities: “La Reine de Saba” and “Le Médecin Malgré Lui.” Three little-heard operas on the Helen of Troy legend — Gluck’s “Paride ed Elena,” Strauss’s “Die Ägyptische Helena” and Offenbach’s “La Belle Hélène” — round out the year. Season opens on Sept. 22; odysseyopera.org.

‘SAMSON ET DALILA’ The Metropolitan Opera’s season begins with Saint-Saëns’s lurid biblical melodrama, featuring new, meaty roles at the company for the two stars who play the catastrophically matched lovers: Elina Garanca (who will also sing Wagner’s “Wesendonck Lieder” in recital at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 23) and Roberto Alagna. Mark Elder conducts; Darko Tresnjak (a Tony Award winner for “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” on Broadway) directs, in his Met debut; Austin McCormick choreographs the Bacchanale, one of opera’s most famous orchestral excerpts. Opening Sept. 24, metopera.org.

JACK QUARTET These exceptional new-music specialists appear in the spooky confines of the catacomb at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn with a program of John Zorn, Chaya Czernowin, Marcos Balter and arrangements of medieval plainchant. (On Nov. 9 the JACK, its quality unaffected by recent personnel changes, arrives at the 92nd Street Y with the New York premiere of a very New York-themed quartet by Andreia Pinto Correia, based on a poem by Hart Crane, alongside works by Sabrina Schroeder, Zosha Di Castri and Ligeti. And on April 14, the group plays Elliott Carter’s five quartets in a single, very long program at the Morgan Library & Museum.) Sept. 24, deathofclassical.com.

‘AIDA’ Anna Netrebko sings the title role at the Met for the first time, joined by Aleksandrs Antonenko and Quinn Kelsey, under Nicola Luisotti’s baton. The barn-burning mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili (Amneris) also takes on Dalila later in the season and stars again opposite Ms. Netrebko in a new production of Cilea’s potboiler “Adriana Lecouvreur” on New Year’s Eve. That opera, also starring Piotr Beczala and Ambrogio Maestri, is conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and directed by David McVicar. (Cilea’s even rarer “Gloria” will be presented by the hardworking Teatro Grattacielo earlier in the season; Ms. Netrebko is scheduled for her several-times-delayed Carnegie Hall recital debut on Dec. 9; and Ms. Rachvelishvili will reprise her Amneris with the great Verdian Riccardo Muti and his Chicago Symphony Orchestra in June.) Opens Sept. 26; metopera.org.

LEILA BORDREUIL This subtle cellist, composer and artist brings to Issue Project Room “Episodes et Mutations,” a quietly shifting auditory and visual landscape, with sounds from the Mivos Quartet and a light installation by Doron Sadja. Sept. 26, issueprojectroom.org.

HOUSTON GRAND OPERA Exiled for a season from its home at the Wortham Theater Center by Hurricane Harvey, this company returns with a concert featuring Plácido Domingo, who starred in “Aida” when the Wortham was inaugurated in 1987. Season opens on Sept. 26; houstongrandopera.org.

‘PROVING UP’ The composer Missy Mazzoli and the librettist Royce Vavrek’s follow-up to their bleakly beautiful “Breaking the Waves” is also gloomy, based on a short story about Nebraska homesteaders after the Civil War. After a run in Omaha, the work opens the season at the Miller Theater, which describes it as the first in a series of chamber operas the Miller will help create. Sept. 26, 28, millertheatre.com.

LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC Not content to settle for any old anniversary gala, this peerlessly ambitious orchestra celebrates its 100th birthday with dozens of commissions this season, an almost alarming concentration of music from rising composers as well as masters like John Adams, Unsuk Chin, Philip Glass and Steve Reich. It’s all a little dizzying: a new orchestral work by Andrew Norman; an array of dance partnerships; LA Fest, whose programs run from new chamber works to Moby; a Fluxus festival that includes music by La Monte Young and two of John Cage’s “Europeras”; an exploration of William Grant Still and the Harlem Renaissance; a fresh staging of Meredith Monk’s “Atlas.” A good chunk of this will be led by Gustavo Dudamel, the Philharmonic’s star music director, who makes his Met Opera debut with Verdi’s “Otello” in December. Season opens Sept. 27; laphil.com.

MUSIC BEFORE 1800 Always a trove of fascinating corners of the repertory, this series opens with Benjamin Bagby’s dramatic recitation of “Beowulf” and includes the medieval groups Alkemie and Ensemble Correspondances, which specializes in the music of 17th-century France. In January, Jeremy Rhizor’s Academy of Sacred Drama presents what it says is the modern premiere of Giovanni Antonio Gianettini’s Moses-themed oratorio “La Creatione de’ Magistrati.” Season opens Sept. 30; mb1800.org.

October

MOVING SOUNDS FESTIVAL Dedicated to Mahler’s influence, these four programs at the Austrian Cultural Forum, presented by the Argento New Music Project, include explorations of this master’s relationship with his wife, Alma; the vocal works; and the Ninth Symphony. The pianist and composer Elisabeth Harnik will perform a sprawling improvisation inspired by the Symphony No. 1. Oct. 1-4, acfny.org.

‘THE MILE-LONG OPERA’ A bit of performance-world Mad Libs — bringing together the architect Elizabeth Diller, the composer David Lang and the writers Anne Carson and Claudia Rankine — this spectacle, the latest massive choral immersion to hit the city, will feature a thousand singers on the High Line. Opens Oct. 3; milelongopera.com.

SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY Michael Tilson Thomas announced last year that in 2020 he would leave this orchestra, which he has made his own over two decades as its music director. They open Carnegie Hall’s season with the starry help of Renée Fleming and Audra McDonald, then offer a Stravinsky program the next evening. Mr. Tilson Thomas’s Perspectives series at the hall continues in March with two of the Vienna Philharmonic’s four Carnegie concerts: The first features Ives, Brahms and Beethoven, with the pianist Igor Levit; the second presents Mahler’s Ninth. On offer in May, with the New World Symphony, his prestigious orchestral academy, are Prokofiev, Berlioz, Schubert and premieres by Julia Wolfe and Mr. Tilson Thomas himself. Season opens Oct. 3; carnegiehall.org.

HIDEJIRO HONJOH This gifted player of the shamisen (the three-string Japanese banjo), interested in his traditional instrument’s contemporary uses, is joined at Japan Society by the International Contemporary Ensemble for premieres by Vijay Iyer, Nathan Davis and Yu Kuwabara, as well as works by Scott Johnson, Yuji Takahashi and Dai Fujikura. Oct. 5, japansociety.org.

SPHINX VIRTUOSI The Sphinx Organization has been at the forefront of promoting racial diversity in classical music through competitions, grants and educational activities; its flagship orchestra comes to Carnegie Hall for its annual visit with a program that includes a New York premiere by Terence Blanchard. Oct. 11, carnegiehall.org.

‘PLACE’ Written with the slam poet Saul Williams, Ted Hearne’s (“The Source”) new theater piece about gentrification is a blending of autobiography and social commentary. It brings music of classical precision and the explosive energy of pop and rock to the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Patricia McGregor directs. Oct. 11-13, bam.org.

TRINITY WALL STREET It’s the 50th anniversary of the Concerts at One series, which has offered Bach and much else in lunchtime performances at this downtown spiritual (and musical) center. That’s just one facet of Trinity’s packed season. Some highlights: Oct. 12 brings an exploration of the church’s Anglican heritage (including a new work by its indefatigable music director, Julian Wachner); Nov. 16 features a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers; and on Dec. 1, Julia Wolfe’s “Anthracite Fields” comes to Carnegie Hall. New York’s essential “Messiah,” a roiling and vivid performance, also arrives in December, and a #MeToo-inspired festival in March includes Handel’s “Susanna,” Laura Elise Schwendinger’s “Artemesia” and works by Barbara Strozzi. trinitywallstreet.org.

PEOPLES’ SYMPHONY CONCERTS One of music’s under-the-radar steals returns with a densely programmed lineup of excellent, inexpensive concerts. A six-show series ends up being less than $10 a ticket, and single tickets max out at just double that. The artists include Paul Lewis, Jonathan Biss, Peter Serkin, Richard Goode and the Juilliard String Quartet. Things get started with the chamber group Russian Renaissance. Season opens Oct. 13; pscny.org.

STILE ANTICO This youthful but distinguished vocal ensemble comes to the Miller Theater with music from the court of Elizabeth I. Oct. 13, millertheatre.com.

MOMENTA FESTIVAL Four programs at the Tenri Cultural Institute and Americas Society, each organized by a different member of the discerning Momenta Quartet, include a chamber version of the “Liebestod” from “Tristan und Isolde” (with Ariadne Greif) and a new commission by Alvin Singleton. Oct. 13, 15, 17, 19, momentaquartet.com.

ORCHESTRE RÉVOLUTIONNAIRE ET ROMANTIQUE John Eliot Gardiner’s crack band of early-19th-century period instruments will bring new (that is, old) colors to works of Berlioz in a two-concert stand at Carnegie Hall. Oct. 14-15, carnegiehall.org.

MEREDITH MONK “Cellular Songs,” a quirky and poignant “meditation on themes of individual flourishing and collective belonging,” as Seth Colter Walls wrote in The New York Times, was a success for this beloved artist last season. Good news, then, that it returns in a concert version at Le Poisson Rouge. Oct. 14-16, lpr.com.

WHITE LIGHT FESTIVAL The most important of Lincoln Center’s fall offerings is the American premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s “Only the Sound Remains,” based on Ezra Pound’s translation of Noh plays, directed by Peter Sellars and starring the potent combination of Philippe Jaroussky and Davóne Tines (Nov. 17-18). Also worthwhile: William Christie and Les Arts Florissants performing Haydn’s “The Creation” (weirdly close on the heels of another Lincoln Center staging of the work this summer); the violinist Hilary Hahn playing Bach, the subject of her new album this fall on Decca; and the Takacs Quartet offering Schubert (later returning with the “Trout” Quintet in March). Oct. 16-Nov. 18, lincolncenter.org.

AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Leon Botstein’s ensemble, devoted to underplayed music, begins its Carnegie Hall season with a program of Walt Whitman-inspired European works by Othmar Schoeck, Weill, Schreker and Vaughan Williams. Other concerts feature New York composers of the mid-20th century (Robert Mann, Jacob Druckman, Vivian Fine and William Schuman) and Martinu’s opera “Julietta.” (The Orchestra Now, Mr. Botstein’s academy group, will perform the New York premiere of Morton Feldman’s 1976 “Orchestra” on a May 19 program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that’s tied to an exhibition on abstraction.) Season opens Oct. 17; carnegiehall.org.

‘LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST’ Having canceled again and again, the star tenor Jonas Kaufmann hasn’t appeared at the Met since March 2014. But he’s scheduled for four performances of this heartfelt Puccini western, starting on Oct. 17, opposite Eva-Maria Westbroek; it should be a perfect fit for his dark-hued elegance. (Mr. Kaufmann also appears at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 5 in a program that draws on German operetta and popular film of the 1920s and ’30s.) metopera.org.

IGOR LEVIT His Carnegie Hall debut was an unsettlingly vivid highlight of the 2016-17 season. Now this pianist, winner of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award, returns for a program of variations and works inspired by other composers, including Brahms and Busoni pieces influenced by Bach, and Lisztian fantasies on Wagner and Meyerbeer. Oct. 19, carnegiehall.org.

‘MARNIE’ Based on the Winston Graham page-turner that also inspired Hitchcock’s film, Nico Muhly’s new opera about a psychologically damaged young woman who compulsively changes her identity is streamlined and atmospheric without being truly dramatic. Isabel Leonard and Christopher Maltman star opposite the countertenor Iestyn Davies, who also appears in recital at Carnegie Hall in May. Robert Spano conducts; Michael Mayer directs. (Ever prolific, Mr. Muhly has also written premieres for the Tallis Scholars, at the Miller Theater in December, and for Trinity Wall Street, in February.) Opens Oct. 19; metopera.org.

ANGELA HEWITT For the third season of what she’s described as a four-year odyssey through Bach’s keyboard works, this stylish pianist begins with Book II of “The Well-Tempered Clavier” and moves on, in May, to the toccatas and a selection of the English Suites. Oct. 21, 92y.org.

ORCHESTRA OF ST. LUKE’S For his first season as this ensemble’s leader, Bernard Labadie is focusing on Haydn, a composer who tests a conductor’s mettle. The first concert at Carnegie Hall, on Oct. 25, features La Chapelle de Québec and includes the “Nelson” Mass; the second, on Feb. 28, includes the Symphony No. 45 and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (with the magnificent Paul Lewis). Pablo Heras-Casado leads the third, on April 18. (Mr. Labadie also performs Bach’s Mass in B minor at Carnegie with La Chapelle de Québec and Les Violins du Roy on May 7.) carnegiehall.org.

YUJA WANG For her Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall, this dazzling pianist includes fairly standard fare — concerts with the cellist Gautier Capuçon and the violinist Leonidas Kavakos and appearances with the New World Symphony — but also more offbeat offerings: a recital with percussion and a performance alongside the music-comedy duo Igudesman & Joo. Series starts Oct. 26; carnegiehall.org.

COMPOSER PORTRAITS There are few series as satisfying as the Miller Theater’s signature dives into one composer. This season begins with Kate Soper (her “Ipsa Dixit,” featuring the Wet Ink Ensemble, in its 20th-anniversary season) and continues with the Pulitzer Prize winner Du Yun, Wang Lu, John Zorn, Tyshawn Sorey (who also has a residency at the Kitchen in Chelsea, Oct. 21-23) and David T. Little. Series opens Oct. 27; millertheatre.com.

‘MUSIC IN 12 PARTS’ Philip Glass’s neon-bright, glacially progressing chamber work is revived only rarely, and with good reason: A performance can last for hours. This marathon work returns to the Town Hall, the site of its 1974 premiere, with Mr. Glass at the helm of the ensemble. Oct. 27, thetownhall.org.

CZECH PHILHARMONIC Beginning his tenure as chief conductor and music director of this storied ensemble, the intelligent and inspired maestro Semyon Bychkov brings it to Carnegie Hall for music by Dvorak (no surprise there) and Mahler. Oct. 27-28, carnegiehall.org.

OPERA LAFAYETTE Straying a bit from its usual focus on 18th-century France, this spirited company, which shuttles between New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, offers three Italian works: Jommelli’s “Cerere Placata,” Handel’s “Radamisto” and, with the gutsy Heartbeat Opera, Stradella’s “La Susanna.” Season opens Oct. 28; operalafayette.org.

HUNGARIAN STATE OPERA This company’s high-profile burst of cultural diplomacy comes as its home country is fast becoming a semi-autocracy under Viktor Orban. The offerings at the David H. Koch Theater include rarities — like Ferenc Erkel’s “Bank Ban,” Janos Vajda’s “Mario and the Magician” and Karl Goldmark’s “The Queen of Sheba” — as well as a favorite, Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle.” Oct. 30-Nov. 5, davidhkochtheater.com.

FOR/WITH FESTIVAL Organized by the keen trumpeter and composer Nate Wooley, this two-night event at Issue Project Room takes a capacious view of music for trumpet, including works by Wadada Leo Smith, Annea Lockwood, Catherine Lamb, Ashley Fure and Felipe Lara. Oct. 31-Nov. 1, issueprojectroom.org.

MARIINSKY ORCHESTRA Under Valery Gergiev, this ensemble may well play with idiomatic color in Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” on the first night of its Carnegie Hall visit; Brahms (with the pianist Nelson Freire) and Strauss come on the second. Oct. 31-Nov. 1, carnegiehall.org.

‘SATYAGRAHA’ The Met Opera’s 2008 production of Philip Glass’s shining reflection on Gandhi, which was dominated by newsprint, was a hit. (It arrives at Los Angeles Opera on Oct. 20.) The work lends itself to fanciful theatrical imaginings, which it will get yet again at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where the companies Folkoperan and Cirkus Cirkor will stage it with acrobatics and lots of yarn. Opens Oct. 31; bam.org.

November

ELLIOTT SHARP As part of the 40th anniversary of the bold Brooklyn space Roulette, this intense composer and instrumentalist celebrates the release of a new album and book with solo and ensemble performances, including a realization of his graphic score “Mare Undarum.” Nov. 1, roulette.org.

AMERICAN COMPOSERS ORCHESTRA Doggedly committed to the new, this ensemble opens its two Carnegie Hall concerts with works by Valerie Coleman (scored for Imani Winds and orchestra), Alex Temple and Joan Tower, who turns 80 on Sept. 6. (The second program, in April, includes Du Yun, Gloria Coates and Morton Feldman. That’s five female composers out of six, for those keeping track.) Nov. 2, americancomposers.org.

JULIA BULLOCK One of the most radiant singers of her generation combines traditional art songs, jazz and Nina Simone classics at Caramoor on Nov. 4. Then her season-long residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art includes a chamber version of John Adams’s Nativity oratorio “El Niño”; a program of Langston Hughes poems set to music; and her Josephine Baker program, “Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine.” In June she stars alongside Davóne Tines in Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” based on Charles Blow’s memoir, at Opera Theater of St. Louis. caramoor.org, metmuseum.org, opera-stl.org.

FIVE BOROUGHS MUSIC FESTIVAL This ambitious, citywide concert series collaborates with Gotham Early Music Scene and the Americas Society on “An Empire of Silver and Gold,” a program of 18th-century Latin American music, at the St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church in Manhattan. Nov. 5, 5bmf.org.

ANDY AKIHO As artists in residence at National Sawdust in Brooklyn this season, the members of PUBLIQuartet will play “LIgNEouS” and “Karakurenai” by this vibrant composer and performer and excellent steel pan player, who will join the festivities. Nov. 7, nationalsawdust.org.

MAHAN ESFAHANI Talented but divisive, with a tendency to disparage his fellow harpsichordists — including Jean Rondeau, who plays at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in March — this chronology-hopping artist pairs selections from Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier” with works by George Lewis, Luciano Berio and Tristan Perich at the Miller Theater. (He also plays concertos by de Falla and Martinu with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at the 92nd Street Y in May.) Nov. 7-8, millertheatre.com.

‘MEFISTOFELE’ Absent from the Met Opera since 2000, when it was a vehicle for Samuel Ramey’s riveting portrayal of the Devil, this fiery opera by Arrigo Boito, better known as Verdi’s librettist, returns with Christian Van Horn, who’s getting a big break in the title role. He is joined by Angela Meade and Michael Fabiano; Carlo Rizzi conducts; Robert Carsen’s jovially garish production remains. Opens Nov. 8; metopera.org.

JOAN TOWER AT 80 The Jasper Quartet and Lysander Piano Trio pay tribute to this formidable composer with her own works and those by other female composers, including Jennifer Higdon, Tania León and Julia Wolfe, at National Sawdust. Nov. 11, nationalsawdust.org.

NEW YORK FESTIVAL OF SONG This engaging, ever-curious series begins its season at Merkin Concert Hall with a celebration of W. C. Handy and the blues. (Other programs include a paean to immigration and “hyphenated Americans”; an evening of scenes featuring couples; and songs inspired by García Lorca.) Nov. 14, nyfos.org.

BOSTON LYRIC OPERA Music drama in Boston is in good shape this season between Odyssey Opera and this resourceful company, which presents the premiere of “Schoenberg in Hollywood,” Tod Machover’s film- and technology-heavy work about that great composer’s flight from Nazi Germany to California. (A new, timely production of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Poul Ruders’s grimly anxious 2000 adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, arrives in May.) Nov. 14-18, blo.org.

MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN This pianist’s technical facility and curiosity are both profound. His Carnegie Hall program includes Busoni’s daunting arrangement of Bach’s Chaconne; works by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Schumann and Chopin; and Alexis Weissenberg’s arrangements of songs sung by the French pop artist Charles Trénet. (Mr. Hamelin joins the Juilliard String Quartet for Dvorak at the 92nd Street Y on Feb. 8.) Nov. 15, carnegiehall.org.

DANISH STRING QUARTET One of the finest, most passionate young quartets in the world makes its debut at the 92nd Street Y with two pathbreaking pieces — one of Haydn’s Opus 20 quartets and Beethoven’s “Razumovsky” — alongside Hans Abrahamsen’s Quartet No. 1, “10 Preludes.” Nov. 17, 92y.org.

JUAN DIEGO FLÓREZ In town to sing Alfredo in “La Traviata” at the Met Opera, this pre-eminent bel canto tenor — his diamond-bright voice a bit reedy for some tastes, but his agility and energy undeniable — has been exploring heavier repertory. In recital at Carnegie Hall, he will be joined by the pianist Vincenzo Scalera. Nov. 18, carnegiehall.org.

BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Andris Nelsons brings his immaculate ensemble to Carnegie Hall for three concerts, including works by HK Gruber, Mahler, Strauss, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and, in one of the season’s most anticipated premieres, a new piano concerto by Thomas Adès, with Kirill Gerstein as soloist. Nov. 19 and March 19-20, carnegiehall.org.

MANNES ORCHESTRA A recent explosion of interest in the composer Julius Eastman, who died in obscurity in 1990, continues with the premiere of his restored Symphony No. II, led by Luciano Chessa at Alice Tully Hall. Nov. 20, newschool.edu/mannes.

‘IL TRITTICO’ On Dec. 14, 1918, this vivid and varied Puccini triple bill had its premiere at the Met Opera. Just shy of its centennial, it returns in Jack O’Brien’s elaborate production, with singers including Marcelo Álvarez, Amber Wagner, Kristine Opolais and Plácido Domingo, who sings the title role of the comic “Gianni Schicchi”; Bertrand de Billy conducts. (The Manhattan School of Music pairs one of the operas, “Suor Angelica,” with Nino Rota’s “I Due Timidi” in December.) Opens Nov. 23; metopera.org.

‘ALCINA’ The fine forces of the Boston Early Music Festival present this semi-staged version of Francesca Caccini’s 1625 work “La Liberazione di Ruggiero,” conducted by Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs (with Robert Mealy as concertmaster), and directed by Gilbert Blin at the Morgan Library & Museum. Nov. 26-27, themorgan.org.

CHRIS THILE A charismatic mandolinist and songwriter who also hosts the radio program once known as a “A Prairie Home Companion,” this hyper-engaging artist holds the Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall this year. On Nov. 28, he’ll pair his own new work with selections from Bach, and on March 9 he opens the hall’s monthlong Migrations festival. Among many offerings, it includes “Two Wings” on March 30, organized by the married performers Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran and devoted to music of the Great Migration. carnegiehall.org.

NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA This fine ensemble is perpetually underrated; a highlight of its season is a vibrant program, under the baton of Joshua Weilerstein, that includes Milhaud, Gershwin, Stravinsky and Florence Price’s Piano Concerto: a work from a composer being gradually rediscovered. Nov. 29-Dec. 2, njsymphony.org.

TALEA ENSEMBLE Works by Kate Soper and David Adamcyk anchor this probing group’s concert at the Americas Society. (Its 10th-anniversary concert in April will feature works written for Talea by Georg Friedrich Haas, Hans Thomalla, Anthony Cheung and Ashley Fure.) Nov. 30, taleaensemble.org.

December

‘LA TRAVIATA’ Few boldly reinterpreted stagings at the Met Opera have been as successful as Willy Decker’s single-set “La Traviata,” so there’s a high bar for Michael Mayer’s new production, which promises to reflect the passage of the seasons. Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in his first season as the company’s music director, returns to a work in which he’s already led Diana Damrau; they’re joined by Juan Diego Flórez and Quinn Kelsey. (Mr. Nézet-Séguin will also lead “Pelléas et Mélisande,” “Dialogues des Carmélites” and orchestral concerts with the Met this season, as well as three Carnegie Hall dates with his Philadelphia Orchestra.) Opens Dec. 4; metopera.org.

‘GREEK’ The composer Mark-Anthony Turnage is characteristically uproarious and bold in this 1988 opera, which updates the Oedipus myth to a decomposing vision of contemporary London. Opera Ventures and Scottish Opera’s bright, stark production, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, brings the piece to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where Mr. Turnage’s “Anna Nicole” was a success in 2013. Opens Dec. 5; bam.org.

MARTIN FROST This extraordinary clarinetist plays works by Brahms (the Clarinet Sonata No. 2), Telemann and Vivaldi at Alice Tully Hall, joined by the pianist Henrik Mawe. Dec. 12, lincolncenter.org.

January

GREEN MOUNTAIN PROJECT This festival is the annual centerpiece of the acute ensemble that is now known, in its 10th year, as Tenet Vocal Artists. With the groups Dark Horse Consort and Blue Heron, it includes Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, music by women of the Italian Baroque and a program from 16th-century Spain. (Tenet, directed by Jolle Greenleaf, will also, with the Sebastians, perform “Messiah” in December and Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” in March.) Jan. 3-6, tenet.nyc.

PROTOTYPE: OPERA/THEATER/NOW A vital home for contemporary music theater, this festival features a mix of full productions, intimate performances and works in progress. Presented by Beth Morrison Projects and Here Arts Center, this season’s offerings include Ellen Reid and Roxie Perkins’s “prism,” about a sickly young girl; the cellist and vocalist Leah Coloff’s “ThisTree”; and the multimedia “Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance.” Jan. 5-13, prototypefestival.org.

FERUS FESTIVAL Hosted by National Sawdust, this burst of new music includes Huang Ruo’s “The Sonic Great Wall,” in which audience members are asked to create sounds as they sit along paths traversed by the musicians, and an evening with the daring violinist Miranda Cuckson and the artist Katharina Rosenberger that focuses on the sonic possibilities of paper. (Mr. Huang’s new chamber opera, “Bound,” about a Vietnamese immigrant family, comes to the Baruch Performing Arts Center as a co-presentation with Fresh Squeezed Opera in April; Ms. Cuckson joins the melancholy composer and pianist Michael Hersch at Sawdust on Sept. 18.) Jan. 6-8, nationalsawdust.org.

‘ARIADNE AUF NAXOS’ The transparent and fleet-footed Cleveland Orchestra’s opera presentations have been highlights in recent years. The ensemble’s music director, Franz Welser-Möst, has a particularly nimble way with Strauss, so this comic yet heart-rending opera should be a perfect fit. Tamara Wilson, Andreas Schager, Daniela Fally and Kate Lindsey star, and Frederic Wake-Walker directs. Jan. 13, 17 and 19, clevelandorchestra.com.

SABINE DEVIEILHE Her presence on the European opera scene increasing practically by the month, this coloratura soprano comes to Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in a gentler mode, with songs by Debussy, Fauré, Canteloube and others. Jan. 17, carnegiehall.org.

LEIF OVE ANDSNES After releasing an album of Chopin ballades and nocturnes on Sony Classical in September, this sensitive pianist comes to Carnegie Hall with a very different program of characterful works by Schumann, Bartok and Janacek. Jan. 24, carnegiehall.org.

MATTHEW AUCOIN Balancing a career as both a composer and conductor, this gifted young artist shows off both sides with “Matt’s Playlist,” a delightfully idiosyncratic program he leads with the San Diego Symphony that includes excerpts from his opera “Crossing,” as well as works by Beethoven, Stravinsky, Lili Boulanger, Andrew Norman and Thomas Adès. (In November, after a workshop in Cincinnati, he also offers a public glimpse there and in New York of “Eurydice,” his forthcoming commission from the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center Theater and Los Angeles Opera, with a libretto by the playwright Sarah Ruhl. In June, at the Morgan Library & Museum, he pays tribute to Whitman.) Jan. 25 and 27, sandiegosymphony.org.

JUILLIARD FOCUS This perpetually searching festival turns its attention to 75 years of international radio commissioning. “On the Air!” will include works written since World War II at the behest of radio stations, primarily European, like the BBC, SWR, WDR and Radio France. The final program features orchestral pieces by Betty Olivero, Ligeti and Tippett. Jan. 25-Feb. 1, juilliard.edu.

ANNA CATERINA ANTONACCI When she gave a recital in New York last winter, this Italian soprano offered a tour de force of programming and interpretive subtlety. She will appear, again under the auspices of New York City Opera, at the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center with songs by female composers. Jan. 28, nycopera.com.

JAKUB JOZEF ORLINSKI Enthusiastic, his sound often sheerly lovely, this break-dancing countertenor mines early music for a program at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall that is heavy on rarities, performed alongside members of New York Baroque Incorporated. Jan. 31, carnegiehall.org.

SEATTLE SYMPHONY Having made this orchestra a beacon of intriguing programming, Ludovic Morlot ends his tenure as music director with a focus on Debussy. His final season also includes the premiere of Caroline Shaw’s Piano Concerto, with Jonathan Biss as soloist. (In April, Mr. Morlot’s successor, Thomas Dausgaard, offers a program with the premiere of George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 5, “Visions,” inspired by the 2015 shooting at a historic church in Charleston, S.C.) Jan. 31- Feb. 2, seattlesymphony.org.

February

JEREMY DENK This shrewd and mischievous pianist brings to Carnegie Hall a program dominated by variations and transcriptions, including works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Bizet and John Adams. Feb. 1, carnegiehall.org.

BEHZOD ABDURAIMOV In his 20s yet already adept at balancing technical flair and understated intelligence, this pianist makes his debut at the 92nd Street Y with a formidable program: Liszt’s transcription of the “Liebestod” from “Tristan und Isolde” and that composer’s Sonata in B minor, alongside Prokofiev’s piano version of 10 pieces from his “Romeo and Juliet.” Feb. 2, 92y.org.

LEON FLEISHER AT 90 Lionized as both a performer and teacher, this pianist, who turned 90 in July, will belatedly celebrate with solos by Bach and Kirchner and collaborations with friends and students like Jonathan Biss, Yefim Bronfman and Katherine Jacobson. Feb. 5, carnegiehall.org.

DANIIL TRIFONOV 63 years Mr. Fleisher’s junior, this brilliant 27-year-old Russian is at the forefront of a new generation of pianists. As a Perspectives artist, he was omnipresent at Carnegie Hall last season; this year he returns for a single solo recital, with works by Beethoven, Schumann and Prokofiev. (He also continues his Rachmaninoff cycle with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra, releasing a recording of the second and fourth concertos in October, and he appears at Carnegie with the Met Orchestra in May.) Feb. 9, carnegiehall.org.

ACCADEMIA BIZANTINA This crisply exciting early-music ensemble is led by a guest, the violinist Giuliano Carmignola, in works by Mozart and Haydn at Alice Tully Hall. Feb. 12, lincolncenter.org.

MAKI NAMEKAWA AND DENNIS RUSSELL DAVIES Unusual Shostakovich arrangements for two pianos are on the agenda at the Morgan Library & Museum: versions of his own feverish Symphony No. 4 and Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms.” Feb. 12, themorgan.org.

ROYAL CONCERTGEBOUW ORCHESTRA With this celebrated ensemble’s chief conductor, Daniele Gatti, removed in the wake of accusations of inappropriate behavior, it’s unclear as of press time who will lead this set of Carnegie Hall concerts; the programs currently include works by Beethoven, Strauss, Guillaume Connesson, Weber, Mozart and Brahms. Feb. 14-15, carnegiehall.org.

JORDI SAVALL A legend of early music, constantly exploring new corners of the repertory and the globe, and all Carnegie Hall can muster is what made him famous, “Tous les Matins du Monde,” his gamba-heavy program based on the 1991 film of the same title? Doubtless it will be lovely, but it seems a missed opportunity nevertheless. Feb. 21, carnegiehall.org.

DETROIT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA You’d be hard-pressed to find a more clever orchestral program in America this season, or a more intriguing celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centennial: selections from “West Side Story” (1957) paired with John Cage’s epochal exploration of silence and what surrounds it, “4’33,” from just five years earlier. Barber’s Violin Concerto and a new piece by Kristin Kuster round out the concert, a tribute to this orchestra’s playful creativity. (Season highlights also include a program of Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Luther Adams; Andrew Norman’s “Play”; Daniel Bjarnason’s Violin Concerto; a mandolin concerto by Anna Clyne; and a new work by Juliet Palmer.) Feb. 21-22, dso.org.

MATTHEW POLENZANI There’s a heartening helping of appearances this season by this tenor, whose Mozartian gallantry has settled into a kind of heroic grace. Star turns at the Met Opera in Tchaikovsky’s “Iolanta” (in January and February) and Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito” (in March and April) are bookends for a Carnegie Hall recital with works by Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms and, most compelling, Janacek’s haunting cycle “The Diary of One Who Disappeared,” with the mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano. Feb. 24, carnegiehall.org.

March

ANDRAS SCHIFF “Nothing short of astounding” was James R. Oestreich’s account of this eminent pianist’s appearance at Carnegie Hall in April. Mr. Schiff returns with a characteristically capacious program of works by Bach, Bartok, Janacek and Schumann. March 7, carnegiehall.org.

‘DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN’ It’s back! Robert Lepage’s technologically ambitious, creaky, costly and brainless production of Wagner’s epochal “Ring” cycle — its starring attraction a fantastically heavy, many-planked “machine” — has muscled onto to the Met’s stage for another go (or, rather, three). Philippe Jordan, his conducting tending toward the competently bland, leads casts that include Christine Goerke (much anticipated as Brünnhilde), Greer Grimsley, Michael Volle, Stefan Vinke, Andreas Schager, Stuart Skelton, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Tomasz Konieczny and Jamie Barton. Opens March 9; metopera.org.

‘AL NAHAROT BAVEL’ If you need a chaser for “Das Rheingold,” the ensembles Parthenia and Artek collaborate on this program, which translates to “By the Waters of Babylon.” It’s a celebration of Jewish composers of the Renaissance and early Baroque, including Salamone Rossi and members of the Lupo and Bassano families, at the Center for Jewish History, near Union Square. March 10, parthenia.org.

PHILHARMONIA ORCHESTRA Esa-Pekka Salonen brings this powerful ensemble to David Geffen Hall for a pair of performances: Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, a classic orchestral test, on the first program, and, on the second, Sibelius (“The Oceanides”), Stravinsky (“The Firebird”) and Mr. Salonen’s own dazzlingly virtuosic Cello Concerto (with Truls Mork). March 10-11, lincolncenter.org.

PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE ORCHESTRA Not to be confused with the London-based ensemble above, this early-music group from San Francisco and its leader, Nicholas McGegan, are joined at Alice Tully Hall by Anne Sofie von Otter and Anthony Roth Costanzo in works by Handel, Purcell, Arvo Pärt and Caroline Shaw. March 12, lincolncenter.org.

THOMAS ADÈS AND KIRILL GERSTEIN Mr. Adès, one of our essential composers and a fine pianist, is joined at Carnegie Hall by another excellent set of hands in works by Debussy, Stravinsky (Shostakovich’s transcription of the “Symphony of Psalms,” again!), Lutoslawski, Ravel and, yes, Mr. Adès. March 13, carnegiehall.org.

THEATER OF VOICES This superb vocal ensemble presents the New York premiere of a work by Arvo Pärt with an accompanying film by Phie Ambo and the completion of David Lang’s cycle “the writings.” March 20, carnegiehall.org.

EMANUEL AX Poised and lucid, this veteran pianist brings a mixed program to Carnegie: George Benjamin, Brahms, Schumann (the “Fantasiestücke”), Ravel and Chopin. March 27, carnegiehall.org.

MAHLER CHAMBER ORCHESTRA With her frequent Mozart collaborators, the Cleveland Orchestra, not traveling to New York this season, the gorgeously graceful pianist Mitsuko Uchida gets her fix with this fine ensemble, then returns for Schubert recitals on April 30 and May 4. March 29, carnegiehall.org.

‘DIDO AND AENEAS’ The Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a striking space for just about anything, will provide an appropriately antique, if geographically imprecise, setting for Purcell’s classic opera, performed by the venerable Handel and Haydn Society. March 30, metmuseum.org.

April

PIOTR ANDERSZEWSKI An elegant program for this penetrating pianist at Alice Tully Hall: Beethoven’s “Diabelli” Variations, introduced by a selection from Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier.” April 2, lincolncenter.org.

YEFIM BRONFMAN Another thoughtful pianist, though one with a reputation for more extroversion, Mr. Bronfman brings a program that includes Schumann, Debussy and Schubert to Carnegie Hall. April 4, carnegiehall.org.

QUATUOR AROD Ebullient and incisive, this group arrives at Carnegie’s intimate Weill Recital Hall with a program of Haydn, Brahms and Bartok. April 5, carnegiehall.org.

BUDAPEST FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA A deep dive into (more) Bartok over two evenings, this sprightly orchestra’s stand will doubtless be enlivened by its music director Ivan Fischer’s surprises. April 5-6, carnegiehall.org.

‘ST. JOHN PASSION’ The latest in a recent spate of Easter performances of this harrowing Bach work (perhaps at the expense of outings of the “St. Matthew Passion”) is a presentation by the shining St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, with the ensemble New York Baroque Incorporated. April 11, saintthomaschurch.org.

MUSIC ON FILM Michael Kimmelman, the architecture critic of The New York Times and an accomplished pianist, will introduce three helpings of masters of his instrument at the Walter Reade Theater. The footage includes the Beethoven of Serkin, Arrau and Backhaus; Chopin from Rubinstein, Horowitz and Argerich; and Glenn Gould’s Bach. April 13 and 27, lincolncenter.org.

‘SEMELE’ Few musical events have settled into tradition as happily as the annual Handelian visit of Harry Bicket and his English Concert to Carnegie Hall, this season presenting this sparkling oratorio with a cast led by Brenda Rae and Elizabeth DeShong. April 14, carnegiehall.org.

GEORGE CRUMB AT 90 The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center celebrates a vital American composer with two programs of work, ranging from 1947 to a new commission. The society also presents the Escher Quartet and a new work by Andrew Norman on May 7, in addition to its superb new-music series in the Rose Studio, which includes premieres by Anthony Cheung (Jan. 17) and Mark-Anthony Turnage (May 16). April 14 and 16, chambermusicsociety.org.

May

MET ORCHESTRA Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the final two concerts in this ensemble’s post-opera-season escape from Lincoln Center to Carnegie Hall. There’s a French program of Debussy, Dutilleux and Ravel, as well as a pairing of Mahler’s “Rückert Lieder” (sung by Elina Garanca) and Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. (Valery Gergiev conducts the first concert, featuring Schumann’s Piano Concerto, with Daniil Trifonov, and Schubert’s Ninth Symphony.) May 18; June 3 and 14; carnegiehall.org.

NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA A rupture between the Teatro Regio of Turin, Italy, and its conductor, Gianandrea Noseda, forced the cancellation of the company’s American tour and Carnegie Hall concert. Happily, Mr. Noseda’s National Symphony could fill the date, with a program of Liszt (the “Dante” Symphony) and Rossini’s “Stabat Mater.” May 19, carnegiehall.org.

PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Few lead the standard repertory with as much eloquence and humanity as Manfred Honeck, this orchestra’s music director. Recently spoken of as a candidate for the same position with the New York Philharmonic, he will bring his band to the Philharmonic’s turf with a program of Beethoven (the “Emperor” Piano Concerto, with Till Fellner) and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. May 19, lincolncenter.org.

June

‘ATLAS’ Meredith Monk’s delicate, earthy, moody, witty 1991 opera, a stylized narrative loosely based on Alexandra David-Néel’s early-20th-century travels in Asia, will finally get a new staging, courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the sensitive director Yuval Sharon. June 11-12, laphil.com.

‘STONEWALL’ Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a landmark in the gay rights movement, New York City Opera has commissioned a work by the composer Iain Bell and the librettist Mark Campbell. It promises to depict “a diverse group of characters whose lives collide at that pivotal moment in history.” Opens June 19; stonewallopera.com.

Mon, March 26, 2018

Differentiating Music Education from Entertainment Arts
edCircuit

Dr. Julian Wachner, Director of Music and the Arts for Trinity Wall Street in New York City, took time out of his busy schedule to sit down and speak about music education. Trinity Wall Street has a rich history of public school outreach and has seen first hand the power that music has to transform lives.

Julian points to a glaring misconception in the minds of many as to what constitutes music education. To many, music is perceived as an add-on to the entertainment arts rather than a vastly meaningful part of student learning. There needs to be differentiation, according to Julian between what people see as entertainment arts and music education. More emphasis needs to placed on the impact that music has on the overall pedagogical environment.

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Differentiating Music Education from Entertainment Arts

Changing the semantics in the narrative of music education

by Dr. Rod Berger

Dr. Julian Wachner, Director of Music and the Arts for Trinity Wall Street in New York City, took time out of his busy schedule to sit down and speak about music education. Trinity Wall Street has a rich history of public school outreach and has seen first hand the power that music has to transform lives.

Julian points to a glaring misconception in the minds of many as to what constitutes music education. To many, music is perceived as an add-on to the entertainment arts rather than a vastly meaningful part of student learning. There needs to be differentiation, according to Julian between what people see as entertainment arts and music education. More emphasis needs to placed on the impact that music has on the overall pedagogical environment.

The ancient Greeks and Romans perceived music to be just as vitally important as mathematics and languages, and they understood that it activated the learning senses differently. In many respects, Dr. Julian Wachner is calling for a return to the original design of music’s involvement in the education of the mind.

Rod Berger:  Julian, it's nice to spend some time with you today. I will start off by saying that I am continuously fascinated with the arts and the way in which they can impact communities, young people, regions, and areas of the entire world. We're trying to understand the changes in the world around us through the arts and exploring the ways in which we can engage at different levels with each other.

So talk to me about the obvious power of music in your life. What was that moment like when as a young person you said, “This is what I want to dedicate my life to.”

Julian Wachner:  I come from a musical family. Dad was a professional musician, a conductor, and my mom was a pianist. That meant that they actually didn't want me to become a musician. (Laughter)

But I fell in love with music at a very young age. Specifically, I fell in love with sacred music when I walked into a cathedral in Buffalo, New York when I was as a boy chorister about six or seven years old just starting out. I heard the director there improvising, and I just thought that it was the most incredible thing.

There was no turning back at that point. And even though my life is both in concert music and sacred music, this has been the trajectory that started when I was almost a baby.

RB:  In your professional career in the arts you’ve always reached out to local schoolchildren. Tell me a little about the way in which you've experienced the power of outreach from the musical community.

JW:  Absolutely! The first time that I ventured into the public school system was when I was the university organist and choirmaster at Boston University. We went into the Allston/Brighton neighborhoods in Boston with a choral program. At that point, the school system there didn't have the funds to support that kind of program, and we had a couple of hundred kids immediately involved as soon as we walked in the door.

It's incredible how the short-term teacher feedback is not so much about “Oh, the kids are really musicians” but rather that their interaction with the arts radically transforms their behavior and aptitude in other fields; specifically in our case, with music.

Here in New York City at Trinity Wall Street, we have a massive outreach program with many schools. It's similar to what it was at Boston University; we're not so much interested in people becoming professional musicians. We’re interested in how music impacts neurological development and how it impacts learning and developing skills in terms of problem-solving and getting along with one another. All the ways that music has traditionally, over thousands of years, been utilized in the pedagogical environment.

RB:  I recently spoke with a representative of a district on the West Coast that lost their arts program for over six years. How can the music community or the arts community better support the music and arts education programs around the country that often seems to be cut on the heels of slashed budgets? How can the professional community do more or provide support in ways where we're communicating the value of the arts in the development of a young person?

JW:  I think the first thing that's very important is that there needs to be ─ from the top ─ a differentiation between entertainment arts that is happening for instance at the Metropolitan Opera or the New York Philharmonic (which is wonderful and great) and music education and how music impacts the pedagogical environment.

The ancient Greeks and Romans and even into the Medieval Period, everyone knew that music was as vital a course of study as mathematics and grammar and languages. It activates neurological patterns that other sciences do not.

One of the issues is to stop talking about the arts as if it's some kind of elite type of entertainment activity and return to the original design of the purpose of the music as described by Plato, Socrates, Luther and other thinkers throughout the millennia.

That's one major issue in which just the semantics of the narratives need to be redesigned.

Specifically, I think the more that artists can bring themselves into public, private or whatever school programs the better. Forget the whole “People who can't do, teach” thing ─ get rid of that mentality completely. To have somebody like renowned opera singer Renée Fleming walk into a public school somewhere in the Bronx and get down on the ground with the choirs where the real learning is going on.

RB:  Julian, do you see ─ from the music side  ─ technology impacting the way that you can engage the next generation of musicians or the layperson who wants to enjoy music? When we speak about education broadly, engagement is a keyword that we're focusing on. How do we perk the interest of students so that they stay engaged for extended periods of time and hopefully, impact their learning?

JW:  I think one of the things that we know about all creative processes even if it's some mundane work task at a corporation is that if people are actively involved in the creation of “X” project, they are more interested in staying connected to it.

The more we can have musical performance and musical nourishment be interactive so that people can actually be involved in the creation of the art, the better. In a way that's not just receiving information in a classroom, but it’s actually DOING it. That's a little bit against what we're dealing with, with social media and so many screens giving people information as fast as they want it. It's about having a way that we can interact with art and music so that people are connected to it in a creative way themselves.

RB:  Julian, for those who don't know about Trinity Wall Street outside of New York, give us the backdrop of Trinity Wall Street and its mission.

JW:  Trinity Wall Street is really a fascinating place because, at the very core, it's just an Episcopal parish like any other Episcopal parish. But because it was endowed by Queen Anne several hundred years ago and because the resources there were carefully nurtured through great stewardship over the centuries, there is a rather large portfolio from which our budget is derived.

Our mission is multifaceted but, historically, we've been part of the narrative that for instance, helped South Africa. In the apartheid era, we were providing support for Desmond Tutu, as an example. The list goes on in terms of our outreach into the world.

But in the local arts community, there has always been an incredibly active free concert series at Trinity, and it's really a gift to the community and to the city.

I've been there now for seven or eight years. When I came, the charge was to combine the liturgical offerings with the concert offerings; so now, we have a single vision. The mission is all about the aesthetics of beauty and the power of beauty to transform lives, and then the power of education in educating the next generation and giving it to the public schools and doing that kind of work.

The peripheral issues are:  We've commissioned a number of works. We make a number of recordings. We have a couple of Grammynominations during the past five years. Two of the works we helped developed have both won Pulitzer prizes: Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fieldswhich is about the coal mining industry in rural Pennsylvania and then Du Yun’s Angel’s Bonewhich deals with a very difficult issue of human trafficking, particularly sexual human trafficking.

We hit difficult issues head on, and we try to make transformative moves in the community.

RB:  It's incredible when you talk about that, the outreach and the impact that you have.

Let's close with this, Julian. What genre of music would the audience be surprised that Dr. Julian Wachner would be listening to outside of composing? Is there a genre of music that we would be surprised that you enjoy on a Saturday while you're driving?

JW:  I don't know if the people would be surprised. Probably, my go-to is Depeche Mode and The Cure. I’m a child of the eighties.

RB:  I think that might surprise some people. They're very lucky to have you there at Trinity Wall Street. It has been fantastic to spend some time with you today. Thanks, Julian.

JW:  Thank you so much.

About Julian Wachner

Dr. Julian Wachner is the Director of Music and the Arts for the Trinity Wall Street Church in Manhattan, New York City.

Named one of New York City’s “10 Imagination-Grabbing, Trailblazing Artists of 2014” by WQXR, music director Julian Wachner continues to enjoy an international profile as a conductor, composer, and keyboard artist.

Wachner’s extensive catalog of original compositions has been variously described as “jazzy, energetic, and ingenious,” (Boston Globe), having “splendor, dignity, outstanding tone combinations, sophisticated chromatic exploration…a rich backdrop, wavering between a glimmer and a tingle...,” (La Scena Musicale) being “a compendium of surprises,” (Washington Post) and as “bold and atmospheric,” while having “an imaginative flair for allusive text setting,” and noted for “the silken complexities of his harmonies” (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.”

Sat, March 24, 2018

Julian Wachner Named Artistic Director of Grand Rapids Bach Festival
Classical Source

Trinity Church Wall Street’s Director of Music and the Arts, Julian Wachner, has been appointed Artistic Director of the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival, founded in 1997 and now an affiliate of the Grand Rapids Symphony, which has administered it since 2013. The Grand Rapids Bach Festival also announced the inauguration of the Linn Maxwell Keller Distinguished Bach Musician Award, a $10,000 prize honoring the festival’s late founder to encourage and support gifted young singers in pursuit of professional careers in music.

Lori Lee Curley, president of the Grand Rapids Bach Festival’s Board of Directors, says of Wachner’s appointment: “From the beginning of the symphony’s involvement, the goal always has been to expand the Bach Festival while honoring Linn Maxwell Keller’s legacy and vision. Julian definitely is the right choice to accomplish this, as he has many ideas for innovative programming, education and community engagement. I believe that he’ll elevate our festival to a new level. It would be wonderful if the Grand Rapids Bach Festival were to become a destination for Bach and Baroque music lovers of all ages.”

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Julian Wachner Named Artistic Director of Grand Rapids Bach Festival

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Trinity Church Wall Street’s Director of Music and the Arts, Julian Wachner, has been appointed Artistic Director of the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival, founded in 1997 and now an affiliate of the Grand Rapids Symphony, which has administered it since 2013. The Grand Rapids Bach Festival also announced the inauguration of the Linn Maxwell Keller Distinguished Bach Musician Award, a $10,000 prize honoring the festival’s late founder to encourage and support gifted young singers in pursuit of professional careers in music.

Lori Lee Curley, president of the Grand Rapids Bach Festival’s Board of Directors, says of Wachner’s appointment: “From the beginning of the symphony’s involvement, the goal always has been to expand the Bach Festival while honoring Linn Maxwell Keller’s legacy and vision. Julian definitely is the right choice to accomplish this, as he has many ideas for innovative programming, education and community engagement. I believe that he’ll elevate our festival to a new level. It would be wonderful if the Grand Rapids Bach Festival were to become a destination for Bach and Baroque music lovers of all ages.”

Wachner, who dates his love of the music of Bach to his childhood growing up in a musical family, has shown ample evidence of that enthusiasm, and an affinity for Baroque music in general, through his programming at Trinity. With The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra he earned a 2013 Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance for their recording of Handel’s Israel in Egypt, and Trinity’s rendition of Handel’s Messiah has long been a staple of New York’s holiday season. The same forces recently concluded a cycle, lasting five seasons, of Bach’s entire monumental output of sacred vocal music, largely performed during the celebrated “Bach at One” series in St. Paul’s Chapel. The series continues this spring, on the heels of a just-completed week-long festival to inaugurate the chapel’s newly restored and relocated Noack three-manual pipe organ. The spring concerts feature favorite Bach Cantatas, with soloists drawn from The Choir of Trinity Wall Street.

Trinity’s “indispensable and unmissable” (New York Times) array of free, ambitious musical offerings, many of which are professionally filmed, streamed live and available on-demand, also celebrates the centennial of iconic New York composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein this spring. “TOTAL EMBRACE: Leonard Bernstein at 100” will showcase a wide-ranging selection of Bernstein’s music, as well as that of related New York composer-conductors including Lukas Foss, Gustav Mahler, Pierre Boulez, Aaron Copland, and Wachner himself, who is one of Lukas Foss’s protégés. The celebration launches during the April and May Concerts at One series in St. Paul’s Chapel, and concludes with a three-concert finale (May 31-June 2). With a special emphasis on lesser-known and vocal compositions, the concerts will feature resident contemporary music orchestra NOVUS NY and a roster of North America’s leading instrumental and vocal soloists, all under Wachner’s direction. Pianist Lara Downes makes a guest appearance, performing the complete cycle of LB Anniversaries – works she has commissioned from living composers in tribute to Bernstein. In many of the concerts, NOVUS NY will be joined by the Grammy-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, with Trinity’s semi-professional choir Downtown Voices and the Trinity Youth Chorus also joining for the finale on June 2.

Formerly Music Director of the Washington Chorus in Washington, D.C., Wachner has made guest appearances with organizations as diverse as the New York and Hong Kong Philharmonics, the Philadelphia and National Arts Centre Orchestras, the Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and the Boston Pops. In 2014, he made his debut with San Francisco Opera as a last-minute replacement conducting Handel’s Partenope. A native of California, he studied at Boston University, earning his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition and orchestral conducting. He founded the Boston Bach Ensemble in 1995 and the Bach-Academie de Montréal (now the Montreal Bach Festival) in the early 2000s, and has guest conducted the Handel and Haydn Society, the oldest performing arts organization in the United States. Wachner has served as a Professor of Sacred Music at Boston University’s School of Theology, and is currently an Affiliate Professor of Music and the Arts at The General Seminary of the Episcopal Church, the oldest continually operating Anglican seminary in the world. He is a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists.

Wed, March 14, 2018

Review: ‘Anthracite Fields’ at The Kennedy Center
DC Metro Theater Arts

Performed on The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater stage as part of the two-week Direct Current series of contemporary arts, Anthracite Fields included music and text by Julia Wolfe, who won the Pulitzer Prize for this composition. It was an aural, choral, and visual feast; full of bittersweet beauty, felt physical textures, and colorization that drew upon American folk, rock, and classical music and the utter gorgeousness of 24 human choral voices. (There also two bicycle wheels becoming harps).

Never a pity party, the multimedia, quite immersive, Anthracite Fields was the partnership – no, make that marriage – of the award-winning, six-member musical ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars, the GRAMMY-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and in-demand conductor Julian Wachner.  Evocative scenography and projection design by Jeff Sugg used black-and-white from the archives of Lewis Hine, Frank Delano, and others, along with gray-toned graphics as educational tools.

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Review: ‘Anthracite Fields’ at The Kennedy Center

by David Siegel on March 14, 2018

It was a haunting, atmospheric triumph. It was an urgent, yet respectfully accomplished multimedia exploration of American cultural issues rarely presented on DC stages about the unknown laborers in the deadly work that help energize our lifestyles (including the vast digital “clouds”). It was about those who toiled and still do, deep underground. It was the striking accomplishment of Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields.

Performed on The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater stage as part of the two-week Direct Current series of contemporary arts, Anthracite Fields included music and text by Julia Wolfe, who won the Pulitzer Prize for this composition. It was an aural, choral, and visual feast; full of bittersweet beauty, felt physical textures, and colorization that drew upon American folk, rock, and classical music and the utter gorgeousness of 24 human choral voices. (There also two bicycle wheels becoming harps).

Never a pity party, the multimedia, quite immersive, Anthracite Fields was the partnership – no, make that marriage – of the award-winning, six-member musical ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars, the GRAMMY-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and in-demand conductor Julian Wachner.  Evocative scenography and projection design by Jeff Sugg used black-and-white from the archives of Lewis Hine, Frank Delano, and others, along with gray-toned graphics as educational tools.

The evening with Anthracite Fields brought forth the once intense life of Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal-mining past. But this is not musty history for just a certain segment of patrons. Wolfe easily connected that past and those miners with today in the last movement, “Appliances,” that made clear how much coal miners did, and how often they died, to make modern life and modern conveniences possible.

In its one-hour performance without intermission, Anthracite Fields had five movements. First was “Foundation,” beginning with low ghostly bass sounds from Robert Black and percussion from David Cossin evoking what a deep mine with its shiny black coal shafts might sound like – until the echoing Choir voices were heard. Then came the reading of names of some who died in the mines as images were projected with Vicky Chow on keyboard. Then came “Breaker Boys,” a high-energy piece revealing the fears of adolescent boys working in the mines, with an ardent vocal performance by cellist Ashley Bathgate.

The third movement was “Speech,” with stirring words voiced by guitarist Mark Steward from a speech by United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis. The movement poignantly asks: “If we must grind up human flesh and bones in the industrial machine that we call modern America, then don’t you and I who consume the coal and benefit from that service because we live in comfort owe those who mine – and owe their families some protection if they die?”

“Speech” was followed by a much different movement called “Flowers,” not stirring but comely, almost sweet, with piano by Vicky Chow. This movement paid homage to the mining families who grew flowers above the mines to provide beauty in their lives.

Lastly was an unexpected movement, “Appliances.” In this movement, through music and voices, we are not left off the hook. No longer just history, Anthracite Fields connected a hot steaming shower, ordering a book, going to the gym, calling a friend and other conveniences to energy and electricity. But this is not a teary or angry musical movement railing to go back to what once was – rather, it aimed to inspire awareness of what once was. (That was not lost on the audience I overheard, discussing the performance and the results of the Pennsylvania special election of the same evening).

Anthracite Fields gave honor to those who toiled with their hands all their working life in a world without government safety nets. A life that fewer and fewer of us know. Anthracite Fields is a steely oratorical challenge to the status quo of short-term knowledge and forgetting the past, thinking it of no relevance to the now.

In her program notes, Wolfe, originally from Pennsylvania, wrote, “My aim with Anthracite Fields is to honor the people who preserved and endured in the Pennsylvania anthracite coal region during a time when the industry fueled the nation and to reveal a bit about who we are as American workers.” Wolfe certainly did that.

Anthracite Fields winningly paid homage to those then and those now who get dirty every day working with their hands. It gave visibility to the too often unnoticed or scoffed at. Those who work in dangerous jobs to keep rest of us comfortable even as we may sleep.

So, to Julia Wolfe, thank you for Anthracite Fields and for remembering those who toiled with dirty hands and broken fingernails from working each day. And, one more note. My Dad worked with dangerous chemicals every day for 12 hours. He came home smelling of those chemicals and his own sweat, wearing his soiled green cotton work clothes. You made his work honorable as you did for long ago Pennsylvania miners depicted in Anthracite Fields. Thank you for that.

Running Time: About one hour, with no intermission.

Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields played one performance on March 13, 2018, at The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For upcoming Kennedy Center events go online.

Note: US Government data about year-by-year deaths of miners since 1900 can be found here. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2012, the average miner in the U.S. earns an hourly wage of $27.62, over the course of a 43.6-hour work week. This amounts to an annual salary of $62,620 – in DC terms, about what a GS-12 starts at. Wages vary based on location and specific job duties.

Wed, March 14, 2018

Two years after Pulitzer, a cool coal oratorio comes to Washington
The Washington Post

The result was a distinctive dream world, shot through with the words of the finely tuned Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and conducted with large gestures by Julian Wachner.

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Two years after Pulitzer, a cool coal oratorio comes to Washington

By Anne Midgette 

March 14

New York and Washington aren’t far apart as the opera audience travels — plenty of Washingtonians are frequent attendees at the Metropolitan Opera — but they seem to be separated by quite a distance when it comes to new music. The Kennedy Center’s Direct Current, its new two-week “celebration of contemporary culture,” has been spotlighting this by bringing down some of the things this city doesn’t usually hear — not, at least, since the demise of the Atlas’s fine new-music series a couple of years ago. So far, it’s given us So Percussion and Philip Glass and, on Tuesday night, the Bang on a Can All-Stars performing “Anthracite Fields,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio by Julia Wolfe, which had its premiere in Philadelphia in 2014 but only now made it to Washington.

“Anthracite Fields” is a thoughtful docu-oratorio that is ripe fodder for prize-giving, like the serious biopic taking the Oscar over rom-com contenders. Its subject is the coal country of Pennsylvania and the lives of the people who lived there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — from the names of miners who were injured, taken from the historic register and intoned by the chorus in the first of the work’s five movements, to the names of the flowers in their families’ gardens, as remembered by a miner’s daughter quoted in the fourth movement.

It’s also musically accomplished. Wolfe, a member of the composers’ triumvirate Bang on a Can, writes intensely and thoughtfully. Each movement stands alone, from the whistling opening, like wind from the past, yielding to the keening drone of the names in the first movement, punctuated by the repeated punch of “John . . . John . . . ,” to the jingly syncopation of the second movement, about the children who worked in the mines until their fingers bled. A flickering film by Jeff Suggs, with archival footage of miners and mines and towns and names and flowers, creates a visual continuity and sets the tone of the work as a piece steeped in history.

Wolfe has been writing for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, an eclectic sextet that includes percussion and electric guitar, since the ensemble was established as Bang on a Can’s performing arm in 1992, and she knows how to make the most of the group’s individual talents, which in the case of the polymathic guitarist Mark Stewart include instrument construction (a kind of harp made out of a bicycle wheel was featured) and singing (the group’s cellist, Ashley Bathgate, also had a vocal solo).

The result was a distinctive dream world, shot through with the words of the finely tuned Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and conducted with large gestures by Julian Wachner. Yet like a dream, it was also slightly distant. All the components were finally polished and smartly put together, but it didn’t, for me, quite lift off the page: something to be esteemed more than loved.

Tue, February 27, 2018

Concert review: ORA Singers at LSO St Lukes, EC1
The London Times

Julian Wachner’s Regina Coeli stood out from the European pack with its American sonic engineering.

Thu, February 22, 2018

Audio: A New Organ For Manhattan’s Oldest Church
WNYC

Last year, the chapel, which is part of Trinity Church Wall Street, celebrated its 250th anniversary with a major renovation – a renovation that concludes this year with the installation of a new organ. All this week through Saturday, the chapel is marking the occasion with concerts of various sorts, from Bach cantatas to a screening of the Harold Lloyd silent film Speedy with organ accompaniment (that one’s on Friday night).

Music Director Julian Wachner gives WNYC’s John Schaefer a tour of the instrument – which has a couple of sonic surprises.

Fri, February 16, 2018

An Organ — and Soon Another — Lands on Broadway
The New York Times

To hear Julian Wachner tell it, playing the organs of Trinity Church Wall Street in recent years has posed risks to both body and spirit.

“It is soul-numbing to play that thing,” Mr. Wachner, the church’s hard-driving director of music and arts, said of the digital instrument in Trinity Church, on Lower Broadway. He also called the Schlicker pipe organ, long resident in St. Paul’s Chapel, Trinity’s historic satellite a few blocks north, “tendinitis central.”

But all that will soon change. Some of it already has.

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An Organ — and Soon Another — Lands on Broadway

By JAMES R. OESTREICHFEB. 16, 2018

To hear Julian Wachner tell it, playing the organs of Trinity Church Wall Street in recent years has posed risks to both body and spirit.

“It is soul-numbing to play that thing,” Mr. Wachner, the church’s hard-driving director of music and arts, said of the digital instrument in Trinity Church, on Lower Broadway. He also called the Schlicker pipe organ, long resident in St. Paul’s Chapel, Trinity’s historic satellite a few blocks north, “tendinitis central.”

But all that will soon change. Some of it already has.

The chapel’s instrument has been replaced by one purchased from a church in Massachusetts.

As part of a renovation of the chapel for its 250th anniversary last year, the Schlicker has left the building. Built in 1963 for St. Paul’s in purportedly Bachian style, with an eye toward the then-burgeoning early-music movement, the organ has been replaced by a more versatile, well-used 1989 Noack pipe organ, which was fitted into the chapel’s slightly expanded 1802 cabinet. And as part of another renovation, of Trinity Church itself, the 15-year-old digital instrument will be replaced by an $8 million pipe organ now being made by Rosales Organ Builders, which also produced the acclaimed example in Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

The Rosales is projected to be in place by April 2021. But first things first: the installation of the Noack organ will be celebrated with an inauguration festival at St. Paul’s from Feb. 19 to 24.

On opening day, Mr. Wachner and Jonathan Ambrosino, Trinity’s organ consultant, will demonstrate the instrument, which was purchased (from the Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill, Mass.) and installed for $1 million; there will also be a concert with Mr. Wachner conducting the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra in works of Duruflé and Bach; and an organ recital by the noted performer Peter Sykes. On Feb. 22, Paul Jacobs, himself a grand New York institution, will play concertos by Poulenc, Christopher Rouse and Mr. Wachner, who will also conduct Novus NY, Trinity’s contemporary-music ensemble.

As Lower Manhattan grows ever more residential, Trinity has become more intimately entwined with the life of its neighborhood. It was pulled in by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an event that ended up spurring this frenetic organ activity.

St. Paul’s, across Church Street from the World Trade Center, somehow survived the conflagration without significant structural damage. But its contents were coated with dust, grime and debris, and in the case of the Schlicker organ, with its intricate inner workings and its use of degradable materials, like leather, the damage proved disabling.

Though slightly farther from ground zero, the Aeolian Skinner organ in Trinity Church, dating from 1923, suffered similar damage, and it lay idle and dismantled for several years as the church awaited an insurance settlement. Finally, realizing that reconstruction or the manufacture of a new pipe organ could take another five years, Trinity Wall Street, which was in constant use, arrived at a radical solution: the manufacture of a new digital instrument by Marshall & Ogletree, with sampled sound reproduced by ranks of large speakers, 74 in all, hidden behind dummy pipes in the choir loft. The instrument was developed quickly, at a cost of $300,000.

Electronic organs have been slow to gain respect from pipe organ enthusiasts. The sound emerging from speakers can be tacky, flat and superficial, and typically lacks the gut-wrenching impact of the roar that mighty pipes can produce. Avi Stein, the associate organist and chorus master at Trinity Wall Street, allows that the Marshall & Ogletree “fakes a pipe organ very well” but adds that it “lacks some of the tangible singing quality that turns a machine into a work of art.” He agreed with Mr. Wachner that playing the instrument is, in a way, like listening to a recording.

Owen Burdick, a former director of music, was somewhat more enthusiastic when the instrument was installed, in 2003, saying, “This instrument raises the bar for electronic organs.” But he stopped well short of seeing in it any wave of the future.

“Is it beautiful?” he asked, and answered in the negative.

But Mr. Burdick, who left Trinity in 2008, now sings a different tune. Trinity, he said, has not availed itself of improvements that have since become available, including a behemoth of a subwoofer made by Thigpen that can supposedly produce depths of sound down to 0 Hz.

“This thing could kill you,” Mr. Burdick said.

Now the organist and choirmaster at the Church of the Ascension and St. Agnes in Washington, Mr. Burdick said he hoped that Trinity would donate the digital organ to his parish, adding, “I think Jesus likes the sound of electronic organs just fine.”

At St. Paul’s, meanwhile, the Schlicker organ languished, unused, for eight years. Then things started hopping.

Larry Trupiano, a master organ technician in New York, was asked in 2009 to undertake the painstaking process of cleaning and restoring the Schlicker. And a year later, Mr. Wachner blew into town like a whirlwind to take over Trinity’s music program, seemingly bent on turning St. Paul’s into a prime destination for classical and, particularly, early music.

His efforts reached an early, majestic height with Trinity’s landmark commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, with a full day of concerts alternating between St. Paul’s and Trinity. But drama seems to dog Mr. Wachner’s footsteps, and early the next year, in a stunning reversal, Trinity Wall Street abruptly announced that it was suspending most of its concerts, including the backbone Monday series, Bach at One, while the clergy and vestry re-evaluated the benefits and costs of the music and arts program.

After several tense months, the crisis disappeared as mysteriously (to an outsider) as it had appeared, and 2012 ended with further musical growth. Mr. Wachner expanded the activities of Novus NY, and Renée Anne Louprette, then the organist and associate director of music and arts, inaugurated a new Wednesday series, Pipes at One, on the Schlicker organ, by now largely restored.

But Mr. Wachner arrived at Trinity, he says, with a dual mandate: to integrate Trinity’s concerts with its liturgical activity into a unified vision for music and arts in Lower Manhattan, and to sort out the organ situation. And there was still that ergonomic issue with the Schlicker.

Mr. Ambrosino, Trinity’s organ consultant, explained that the instrument, though beloved by many for its bright, crisp sound, could be strenuous to play, partly because — in keeping with its North German Baroque design — it was a tracker instrument, and one of the Schlicker company’s first such ventures. On a tracker organ, the player’s touch on the keyboard or pedals sets in motion a complex mechanical action that produces the sound directly, without the electronic intervention that had come into wide use to ease the player’s burden, as with power steering in a car. (Note that an organ with an electric action is different from an electronic organ as described above, where it is the sound being manipulated, not the touch.)

Later Schlicker tracker organs were evidently much improved and easier to play. “This one,” Mr. Wachner said, “seemed like an experiment.”

Mr. Trupiano, the technician, who probably knew the instrument better than anyone else from countless hours spent scouring its innards, takes a less drastic view. He acknowledged the instrument’s “technical limitations” but said it was decently playable.

In any case, when Mr. Wachner, early in his investigations, learned of the availability of the Noack organ in Chestnut Hill, an instrument he knew and loved from his student days at Boston University, he set off on a single-minded pursuit. He has become only more enthralled since its arrival.

“I knew it was going to be good,” Mr. Wachner said, “but I didn’t know it was going to be world class.” And Mr. Trupiano, close as the Schlicker was to his heart, has endorsed Mr. Wachner’s decision to opt for an instrument of greater stylistic range and the highest quality.

“They couldn’t have made a better choice,” Mr. Trupiano said.

The Noack is somewhat larger than the Schlicker, with three manuals to its two and a swell box. Added stops include a rather trivial one that emits a feeble, warbling imitation of bird song, which is jokingly labeled “Byrds,” after the Elizabethan organist and composer William Byrd.

Mr. Wachner worked with Mr. Stein recently, mapping out registrations for future performances, and both marveled at the Noack’s versatility.

“A French work, and suddenly you’re in Paris,” Mr. Wachner said as Mr. Stein played parts of Duruflé’s “Messe cum Jubilo.” “I can’t believe we have that sound on this thing. The Schlicker could never do that.”

Nor, for what it’s worth, could the Schlicker do bird song.

Fri, December 22, 2017

Review: Du, Angel’s Bone
Opera News

Too often, winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Music seem to be chosen according to politics rather than aesthetics.  But Du Yun’s opera, ‘Angel’s Bone,’ - which received the prize in 2017 - is the real deal. I’ve never experienced a work quite like this. The libretto, by Royce Vavrek (who has recently become ubiquitous in contemporary opera), is a disturbing parable of modern-day human trafficking and sex slavery…

...In response to the brutality of Vavrek’s text, the Chinese-born, American-based Du has developed a fractured, schizophrenic music language that pieces together hacked up bits of various styles and genres. Reflecting the angels’ divine origins, she draws on religious choral music in a series of bizarre interludes for the Choir of Trinity Wall Street [under the direction of Julian Wachner].

...

Sat, December 16, 2017

Retelling the Sacred: Trinity Wall Street Presents Handel’s ‘Messiah’
Medium

Nothing can describe the sensations one receives when hearing the Baroque Orchestra strike their first notes of Sinfony in Trinity Church. The acoustical reflections of the hall reverberate in a haunting way when the first few dramatic notes are struck…

...This was by far, one of the best performances of the piece I have seen yet.

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Retelling the Sacred: Trinity Church Wall Street Presents Handel’s ‘Messiah’

by Kevin Christensen

“Show of hands first, how many of you know that tonight’s Messiah going to be a little different than normal?”

Ms. Brailey words resonated among the 19th century arches.

“Okay so maybe not even half. So, for the rest of you we’re flip flopping everything.”

My attention was caught. I immediately had mixed feelings. Being a purist — to an extent — on many things I was hesitant. But, I’m always willing to be persuaded. She continued:

“So, the sopranos are singing the tenor arias. The Basses are singing the mezzo arias and vice verse. We’re even flipping things in one of the choruses, but I won’t tell you which one, you have to…wait and see.”

You could sense in the air a mixture of feelings. But, just like myself, you could tell that people were willing to consider the possibility.

“This already happens with a few of the aria’s in the Messiah, ‘Who May Abide’ is frequently done by both mezzos and baritones — basses. But, besides the typical cuts that are done in the Messiah there’s sort of a standard convention these days as to how it’s done. But if you happen to have had the chance to look at a score in many editions there is an appendix in the back that includes several of the arias in different keys, and even a few different movements that are generally included.”

You could tell she was excited and nervous — but mainly excited. Her excitement was contagious.

“For a variety I have always thought this would be a fun idea, so I got excited when Julian sent this email. But, in rehearsing it, I think many of us found something that we didn’t expect — which I think is actually very relevant to the public conversations we are having today about gender and expectations of masculinity and femininity. So, for example, you know when we hear an aria like ‘The Trumpets Shall Sound’ typically you expect this big thundering bass, right? That’s not what you are gonna get tonight. The wonderful Mezzo friend of mine Ms. Brackett is singing that tonight — and it’s not just that it’s this female voice singing this text and heralding the triumph of the resurrection — but if you look at the typical roles that the voices play, especially in Baroque music, they are generally pretty narrow. The soprano is the true believer, the soul, the angel, the Mezzo is generally the maternal one, but to hear this text sung in a voice you don’t expect I think really makes you think about it in a new way.”

She continued, elaborating and giving historical justification to the decisions made. This eased some of the initial feelings of skepticism I experienced. It calmed the purist voice in my head, soothing it into a lull.

“And, like the duet ‘He Shall Feed His Flock’ is now this big beautiful bass and this lovely tenor. And, to hear this really masculine voice singing these words of comfort I think is really beautiful and profound. And, I and several of my colleagues found it very moving. This Idea of flip flopping isn’t so strange — Handel himself would transpose arias for new singers and new performances, so I think there is a little bit of historical practice here also — but I would like to encourage you to also listen to the text tonight and to examine how you think about the gender issues that we are talking about in this day and age. So I hope it’s not disappointing. I hope it is revelatory. And, we hope you enjoy. Thank you.”

Ms. Brailey resumed her place among the choir, and the the first soloist resumed her place beside the conductor to sing the first Arioso.

It was snowing when I left my room uptown to catch the Two train to the Wall Street station. I had been looking forward to this night all week and it was finally here.

I don’t remember what exactly spurred the tradition into existence, but when I moved to New York in the fall of 2016, it rekindled me desire to connect with a side of me that I hadn’t tapped into since before the military.

Growing up in the Willamette valley there weren’t too many opportunities to participate in cultural experiences. But in the winter of 2006 I remember taking my 1987 Subaru Justy and a couple of my friends to attend Western Oregon’s performance of Handel’s Messiah. I was a senior in high school at this time, and was a member of my schools choir. And something about it moved me in a profound way.

I hadn’t had the opportunity for 10 years, but finally I was living in a city where participating in cultural experiences was possible, if not encouraged. So, I purchased tickets to the New York Philharmonics production of the Messiah. That was in 2016. This year, however, I chose to attend the Trinity Church production of Handel’s Messiah, conducted by Julian Wachner.

Trinity Church stood majestically at the end of the street when I came up from the warm subway. Its neo-gothic spire jutting into the sky. Snow whirled around and the ground was slick. But this was not the original iteration of Trinity Church on this plot of land.

In 1696 the plot of to build the first Trinity Church was purchased by the Church of England. King William the III the following year gave it it’s charter, and it’s rent was to be 60 bushels of wheat. In 1968 the first iteration of Trinity Church was built.

In 1705, Queen Anne expanded the parishes land to 215 acres, and over the next 50 years two schools — Trinity School and Kings College (now Columbia University) would be built.

Finally, in 1776 the church was destroyed in the Great New York City Fire.

Meanwhile, across the pacific, two men following in the trend of English language operas, which had become popular in the mid 1700’s, worked on what would become one of the most famous Oratorios to ever grace the stage. As Charles Jennens — the librettist — put in a letter to his friend Edward Holdsworth: “I hope [Handel] will lay out his whole Genius & Skill upon it, that the Composition may excel all his former Compositions, as the Subject excels every other subject. The Subject is Messiah.”

The Messiah, was composed in three to four weeks in 1741 and eventually premiered at Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The piece was so popular and so many people arrived that the management pleaded with the women not to wear hoops so that they could fit as many people possible into the hall.

Handel also found success with the piece when it was brought to London audiences, however it did take time for it to be recognized as a Christmas favorite and tradition. The decision to premier it in Dublin was due to some of Handel’s lack of success in recent past works and fear of a critical failure at this time, and since Dublin was the budding economic powerhouse, it was chosen to test the unorthodox loose narrative piece about the life of Christ.

While the Messiah is often attributed to Handel, he wasn’t alone in the creation of the work. Charles Jennens — a oxford trained Shakespeare scholar — wrote the libretto. Jennens purpose in writing the piece was to be a declarative statement about Christ’s divinity in the wake of the rise of rationalized atheism.

It is uncertain how Handel felt about religion, but his fondness of grand myths and legend is known, and this piece fit the bill.

It seems like nearly every day a new person speaks out about an experience they have had regarding sexual misconduct or mistreatment. More often than not those speaking out, the victims, are women or women passing. The #metoo movement, paired with recent events in American civil and political life, ignited a fire, and started a conversation.

What are the implications of gender? What of Masculinity? What of Femininity? How do they intersect with power? These are only a few of the many questions being discussed in the public spheres.

Last year we had the first woman presidential nominee in major party. She, unfortunately, lost to a man with a horrific track record of using his power to manipulate women. Meanwhile, the republican front runner in an Alabama special election for a senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a man accused of multiple instances of Ephebophilia, sexual assualt while charading as a and fundamentalist evangelical.

It is this intersection of the “patriarchal religions” and gender roles that makes this particular production of Handel’s Messiah interesting, as many religious folk hold to the belief that women shall not take high leadership roles such as that of a pastor.

At the time when Handel wrote this, the conversations surrounding the roles of women were in discussion. In fact, Mary Wollstonecraft — one of the grandmothers of feminism — wrote her Vidication of the Rights of Woman as a push back on the conversations surrounding gender roles (the roles of women in particular) in 1792. Only a few decades after the premier of the Messiah.

Knowing this historical context is important, and pairing it with what we know of women in patriarchal religions — like Christianity — helps us develop a baseline to think about the ramifications of flipping the genders on their head, which this particular production chose to do.

After the context was given to the particular differences in this performance as opposed to others, Scene 1: Isaiah’s Prophecy of Salvation began — Sinfony.

Nothing can describe the sensations one receives when hearing the Baroque Orchestra strike their first notes of Sinfony in Trinity church. The acoustical reflections of the hall reverberate in a haunting way when the first few dramatic notes are stuck.

The first musical phrases of the piece are dramatic and mysterious. Sinfony is in E minor, and while the piece isn’t directly related to the following vocal pieces, one familiar with the Oratorio as a complete work, does recognize its relationship to the piece by its rhythms and passages as clearly being of the production.

Following Sinfony, is the Recitative “Comfort ye my people” from Isaiah 40, 1–3. This piece is normally done by a tenor, but for this performance — do to the flipping of the parts on their heads — it would be performed by the beautifully talented soprano Ms. Molly Netter.

I was already overcome by emotion witnessing the Sinfony, that when the first she let from her lips “Comfort ye…” in, I could not help but continue be overcome with emotion. The only descriptions I can give to the emotions are that of a burden being lifted. The articulation was with such gentle grace that watching I felt a single tear fall from my left eye and drip down my cheek. This was by far, one of the best performances of the piece I have seen yet.

My favorite piece within the first part of the Messiah is the final chorus at the end of Scene 3: The prophecy of Christ’s birth. The song, which has always reminded me of Christmas, is titled “For Unto Us a Child is Born,” and just like nearly every other aspect of the evening, they did not disappoint. Following the Chorus, and beginning Scene 4: The annunciation to the shepherds, is a break from accompanied pieces and we receive the famous Pifa — “Pastoral Symphony.” Making this particular scene the more interesting and beautiful, we were graced by three soloists from the Trinity Youth Chorus. Each one of them sang a different Arioso or Recitative. This provided a beautiful telling of the story. It was as if four young angels approached the shepherds announcing the coming of Christ.

The walk from my room to the redline was slick, and I was nervous. I had left myself an hour and a half to get to the venue, but unfortunately, you never know whether or not MTA would delay you.

When I got inside the 135 station, I was pleased to see that there was a two minute estimate on the arrival of the next subway to take me downtown.

This is good. It would take me 45 minutes — with no delays to get to the venue and so if all went smoothly I would arrive with plenty of time. Unfortunately, with the MTA one can experience severe delays depending on possible unforeseen events, and even giving yourself a 45 minute buffer may not be enough time. I remember a time when I was nearly late for a production of “Something Rotten” and I had given myself a 30 minute buffer. I boarded the subway when it arrived, and we were off.

Along the way I played one of my daily podcasts that I would normally listen to on my commutes, and observed the comings and goings of other riders. It’s Friday, around 6 in the evening, people are getting off of work, others are making their way to dinner and happy hour. Everyone is bundled up in winter attire.

72nd street…42nd street…34th street…14th street…

We were making incredible time. My fears began to subside. Periodically, I would try to scroll through Facebook like the addicted Millennial I am, unfortunately while there is excellent wifi at the subway stops the tunnels still have not implemented wifi. It’s only a matter of years — given we still have the internet (my concern triggered by the recent FCC vote to repeal Net Neutrality).

Canal Street…Chambers Street…Park Place…Fulton Street…Wall Street.

I exited the subway car. It was 7pm. I made it.

I felt tired, and the Messiah is long. It would probably be in my best interest to find some coffee, so I did. I was lucky to realize there was a Starbucks on my way to the venue so I picked up a tall drip coffee and braced myself for the cold.

It was still snowing, as I came up from the warm subway. And looking west I could see the grand gothic steeple jutting into the pitch black sky.

I pressed towards it, careful not to fall on the slippery snow-covered sidewalk.

Both men and women are taught very specific gender rules to follow, and this relates to the music world as well. Indeed, for many years women were not allowed to participate in public singing. And, when they were they were required to sing very specific roles. As Ms. Brailey explained:

“If you look at the typical roles that the voices play, especially in Baroque music, they are generally pretty narrow. The soprano is the true believer, the soul, the angel, the Mezzo is generally the maternal one.”

This, unfortunately is completely unsurprising. To this day there is still widespread discrimination and mistreatment and subjugation of women by men, why wouldn’t women then, in Baroque music, be sanctioned to very specific conceptions of the role of women as viewed by men — maternal, pure, angelic, submissive rather than majestic, bold, angry, powerful.

But why shouldn’t they? What can be experienced when when we flip those roles? What advance towards progress can be made in society by such a choice? What can we learn? The answers to those questions are mostly private ones that each listener will have to answer to themselves. But, I must say, that the beauty of living in an age whereby such question can be asked put into practice make me thrilled to be alive.

Upon reaching the parish, I was greeted by two lovely gate keepers, and they told me I needed to drink my coffee before entering the venue, but they let me pass inwards still. I quickly downed my coffee, as I looked around at the ornate architecture. The two doors at the entrance of the the parish were ornately molded Iron, by the looks of it. And depicted different biblical stories — revelations VI: Verses 15, 16, and 17 — was listed below the top panel on the right hand door. Below it a passage from Luke, and what can be described as an Angel speaking to a kneeling woman — Mary — I assume. And around the panels seem to be depictions of different men, though I did no really recognize any of them. Both doors had three panels, and each one told a different story. I stayed long enough to appreciate their beauty, but after I quickly finished my coffee, I went inside.

Following the Great fire, the the second Trinity Church was built then consecrated in 1790. It was politically significant because President Washington and members of his government often worshiped there including John Jay and Alexander Hamilton (who is buried in the adjacent Graveyard. The second church was eventually torn down after being weakened in 1838 due to the severe snow storms.

Finally the third, and current iteration of the Church was built in 1846. And, since then it has been important location for multiple pivotal in history. On 9/11, the church was a refuge amidst the chaos. And during the Occupy Wall Street movement the church provided moral and practical support. Three of the clergy were even arrested when demonstrators attempted to occupy a space called “LentSpace.” .

Stepping into the third iteration of the Trinity Church, I was immediately in awe of the majestic nature of the beautiful church and it’s neo-gothic architecture

There was a ticket checker, and she directed me to an usher who gave me a program and helped me take my seat.

Being a poor college student, I could not afford on. Of the states int he center, and while I thought I was choosing an excellent seat with only partial visibility, it turned out that seat A104 was nearly no visibility. To make up for the lack of visibility, however, the performance was also broadcasted onto large screens, one of them was displayed directly in front of me.

I was a little disappointed, as I wanted a more pure experience and viewing the production on a screen — even though I was in the venue — didn’t seem to be very pure. Nevertheless I was optimistic.

I took off my layers and made my comfortable — snapping a few photos to share with friends and family on Facebook. Eventually my row filled up with other people including another man who was equally disappointed with the lack of visibility. I told him that if I were to ever return I would choose a row a few rows back as the visibility would be less obstructed. He agreed. “Next Year.”

The other seats began to fill, and the musicians began to take their places. There was a quiet hum as the musicians tuned and tested their instruments, making subtle adjustments.

Then, things got quiet as the Concertmaster, Robert Mealy, provided the proper tuning for the first part on his violin. The other instruments responded.

The show was about to begin.

The Choir took their places too, and finally, the conductor, Julian Wachner, took his position at the head of the stage.

He spoke a few words, talking about the tradition of the performance, then hinted at tonight being a bit different. In doing so, he invited one of the Soprano’s Ms. Sarah Brailey to speak about the nature of this particular performance.

Example of the interior of gothic architecture. In the image we can see the Nave which leads to the Ambulatory. On the sides we see Pointed Arches held up by Piers and reinforced by Ribbing.

When I stepped into the venue I was immediately overcome with a pure sense of calm and awe. I had been in this venue before but it had been a while. The combination of my purpose for being here with the weather outside and the burden that had gathered over the past few months due to the intense nature of my education, seemed to be lifted. The ambiance provided by the lighting down the nave and how it reflected on the piers fading as it approached the rib and the rib vault. The matte brown paint on the ribbing provided a wonderful contrast to the cream colored walls and the dark wooden pews.

The tone of the room was warm and ballanced. Having seen the same production done in other venues which tended to feel much dryer, this venue, with its natural reverbs provided by the architectural design imbued the harmonics with a beautiful warmth that is very hard to describe otherwise.

My only real complaint with the venue are the seats, and while they are indeed padded, ones space is constrained. And, my space was intruded upon buy small carved wooden arches that jutted from the walls, and made it very uncomfortable to rest upon, likewise, there was a heater directly below my seat that I was afraid was going to potentially light me on fire from how hot it got.

Following the intermission after Part One, the performance continued to bless us. Mr. Massey, an alto, performed a wonderful performance of Scene 5’s “Thou art gone up on high.” And, while the end of the orotorio doesn’t end with the “Hallelujah Chorus,” Trinity Choir didn’t let us down. The piece was just as majestic and resonant as one would expect from a choir at this caliper.

I can never help but feel sorry, however for the Timpanist who performs with this oratorio, as s/he is only really utilized for the “Hallelujah Chorus.” But, that is the reality of the job.

Finally, closing up Part 3, we were graced with a wonderful musical trio between Robert Mealy on violin, Ezra Seltzer on Violincello, and Mr. Parsons singing in alto “If God be for us, who can be against us.”

What are your thoughts? What do you think about flipping gender roles in traditional productions like this? Do you think the performance successfully achieved what it sought out to do? Is a production like this a place for social or political messages? Do you think the production should have sought to warn all of the audience that what they intended to do? I’m interested to hear your thoughts. Please discuss this with me below, and I will do my best to respond as much as I can.

Originally published at kevinleechristensen.com on December 16, 2017.

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