Sun, May 5, 2013
Going for Baroque
Crain's New York Business
“New York was really ripe for this kind of music, and then Juilliard jumped into it in a major way,” said Julian Wachner, the musical director of the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, which is part of Trinity Wall Street church. Trinity’s orchestra had always had a Baroque-heavy repertoire, but when Mr. Wachner arrived in 2009, he decided to focus on early music to set his group apart because the city is already laden with opportunities to hear modern classical music. It began its Baroque-only focus about two years ago.
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GOING FOR BAROQUE
Musicians strive for authentic sound using priceless instruments.
By Theresa Agovino
WEN YANG became a fan of Baroque music while earning her master's degree at the Yale School of Music. She was especially drawn to the idea of performing with period instruments—either antiques or high-end reproductions—that can cost a small fortune but allow an ensemble to sound as it would have centuries ago.
"I liked the sound; it was richer; it had more color," explained the 31-year-old from China who plays the double bass and the viola da gamba, a cousin of the cello that was commonly used during the Baroque era.
Last year, she started New York Baroque Inc., an orchestra with about 20 musicians who play the works of such composers as Handel, Bach and Vivaldi.
She's not the only one following her passion for music from the 1600s and 1700s. At least four such groups have sprung up in the city in the past three years, with the largest and best-known being the Trinity Baroque Orchestra. They join such longstanding ensembles as the American Classical Orchestra and Early Music New York.
American Classical Orchestra musicians primarily use period instruments. When the group appears at Alice Tully Hall on June 4, for example, the 49 instruments will be worth about $2.5 million, and will include a violin from 1690 worth $175,000 and a bass valued at about $250,000.
By contrast, a high-end modern violin or reproduction can cost $18,000 to $28,000, while a cello could cost $30,000 to $45,000.
At least oboe players get a break. A reproduction of a Baroque oboe costs about $2,000, while a new one can run about $10,000 because it is a more complicated instrument with more keys.
Primed for growth
"The age of the instruments isn't important. It is the sound," said Benjamin Sosland, administrative director of the Historical Performance graduate program at the Juilliard School. Experts contend that even untrained ears can distinguish period instruments and reproductions from their modern counterparts.
Juilliard started the program in 2009, which helped jump-start the early-music movement in New York City. The program at the prestigious institution imbued the genre with more gravitas and brought even more specialized musicians here. Experts said the city was primed for growth in this genre because it was already popular in Boston and San Francisco, among other cities, as well as in Europe.
"New York was really ripe for this kind of music, and then Juilliard jumped into it in a major way," said Julian Wachner, the musical director of the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, which is part of Trinity Wall Street church. Trinity's orchestra had always had a Baroque-heavy repertoire, but when Mr. Wachner arrived in 2009, he decided to focus on early music to set his group apart because the city is already laden with opportunities to hear modern classical music. It began its Baroque-only focus about two years ago.
Mr. Wachner is fortunate that his orchestra is attached to a wealthy church. Newer groups, such as New York Baroque Inc. and Dorian Baroque, are still trying to establish themselves. That's never easy, but it can be especially challenging when the economy remains shaky and more established nonprofit music groups are snapping up donations. Founders like Ms. Yang are trying to squeeze developing their orchestras between classes and gigs.
"It's a lot of work," she said. "We are really grassroots and doing everything ourselves."
Marina Fragoulis, who founded Dorian Baroque last year, said she and her husband have spent about $10,000 of their own money on necessities for the group, such as lawyers and sound engineers. They are still waiting to get certified as a formal nonprofit by the state, and then they can decide the budget and fundraising needs.
"We need to figure out how big of a season we want to have," said Ms. Fragoulis.
The orchestras' programs differ vastly in size and scope. Trinity has weekly concerts, while the American Classical Orchestra will have four this season, which ends in June. The group's budget is only $1.1 million.
Vincent Gardino, executive director of the American Classical Orchestra, said the sharp focus on early music can be a benefit when seeking donations because it is less common.
VALUE of a 1690 violin to be played at the American Classical Orchestra’s June 4 concert
VALUE of all the instruments at the concert
"The audience for this type of music isn't large, but it is extremely dedicated," said Mr. Gardino. He said the orchestra's concertgoers are typically people who already enjoy classical music and are now finding an appreciation for this niche.
The American Classical Orchestra plays Baroque, romantic and classical music, and Mr. Gardino estimates that about 80% of the orchestra's musicians play original instruments that they either own or rent. Musician John Feeney owns a double bass from 1750 that's worth about $250,000.
Caring for the genuine antique brings its own challenges. Mr. Feeney keeps the instrument in a humidity-controlled room and won't take it anywhere he can't drive, which can be an issue because many musicians have to fly to their gigs.
Some musicians transport their prized possessions by buying them a seat on a plane. Mr. Feeney won't take that chance because he is afraid he will be forced to check his. When that happened years ago, he was allowed to personally place the instrument in the plane's hold, something he said would never be permitted in the post-9/11 era.
"We've all seen the way baggage is handled," he said. "I won't do it."
Ms. Yang isn't focused on buying an antique. Right now, she is working on her bass to make it sound closer to a Baroque-era instrument. She said it's been a problem to find craftsmen to complete the work, so the next time she buys an instrument, she'll likely purchase a reproduction. "I think it is just easier," she said.
If you think it's really difficult to become a successful musician, imagine trying to earn a living making specialty instruments. Gabriela Guadalajara started her Harlem-based business crafting Baroque string instruments five years ago, and said it's still a struggle.
It took a year to sell her first one, and last year she sold just three: a small violin for $5,000 and two violas da gamba for $11,000 each. Of course, it's not a high-volume business—constructing one instrument can take three months. And there's plenty of competition from other artisans, as well as inexpensive reproductions from China. Roughly half her income still comes from repairing instruments.
"This is not something you do for the money," said the Mexico City native. "You do it because it makes people happy to play your instruments."
Ms. Guadalajara discovered the joy that music can bring from her father, who loved listening to everything from classical to Mexican folk. She started playing the cello as a child but eventually realized she didn't want to perform professionally, even though she wanted a career in music. When her mother learned about a violin-making school, Ms. Guadalajara knew she had found her dream job.
She started the five-year course when she was 24 and eventually moved to New York to work for William Monical & Sons Inc., a Staten Island-based business that repairs and restores violins.
Ms. Guadalajara said the combination of working there and playing an instrument has aided in developing her business. She developed contacts at Monical that have led to clients. The 36-year-old added, "It helps to play an instrument. I can try the instrument, really hear how it sounds."
Thu, May 2, 2013
Stravinsky’s Sacred Music, the Trinity Way
The Rite of Spring, the centennial of which we celebrate on May 29, has been played everywhere this season and undoubtedly will the next. But while The Rite is forever ubiquitous, much of Stravinsky’s huge output languishes—such as his rarely played sacred works, which New York’s Trinity Church presented in toto in three concerts last weekend (4/26-28). It was a genuine event, well attended, and performed sympathetically by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Trinity Youth Chorus, and instrumentalists from NOVUS NY under the interpretive warmth of Trinity’s music director, Julian Wachner. Appropriate for a festival of such importance, the beautifully printed and illustrated program booklet, with thought-provoking notes by Matthew Guerrieri, was a keeper…
...I could never get into the 1948 Mass before this lovely Trinity performance…Requiem Canticles (1966)—which Stravinsky called his “pocket requiem” and which was performed at his funeral—is his last masterpiece, albeit a small one, and it was given an eloquent account.
The Symphony of Psalms, the final work in the concerts, was performed in a two-piano arrangement by Karen Keating…the superb Trinity chorus could be heard at its full stature without the acoustical confusion of orchestral textures, and the excellent pianists, Pedja Muzijevic and Steven Beck, were perfectly balanced.
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Stravinsky’s Sacred Music, the Trinity Way
by Sedgwick Clark
The Rite of Spring, the centennial of which we celebrate on May 29, has been played everywhere this season and undoubtedly will the next. But while The Rite is forever ubiquitous, much of Stravinsky’s huge output languishes—such as his rarely played sacred works, which New York’s Trinity Church presented in toto in three concerts last weekend (4/26-28). It was a genuine event, well attended, and performed sympathetically by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Trinity Youth Chorus, and instrumentalists from NOVUS NY under the interpretive warmth of Trinity’s music director, Julian Wachner. Appropriate for a festival of such importance, the beautifully printed and illustrated program booklet, with thought-provoking notes by Matthew Guerrieri, was a keeper.
The rarity of Stravinsky sacred-music performances is no surprise. Most of it was written during his last period, when he was adapting Schoenberg’s “method of composing with 12 tones” to his own aesthetic. While the expatriate Russian’s unique voice could not entirely be quelled, the concert-going public has voted on Schoenberg’s technique (and Stravinsky’s use of it) with its feet. After more than a century since its genesis, few 12-tone or serial works are played with any frequency, and even those are capable of emptying a room of non-believers before you can say “boo.”
The real surprise is that Stravinsky, a devoutly religious man, wrote so few works on sacred subjects. On the other hand, Ralph Vaughan Williams, an avowed atheist, composed some of the most affecting music on religious themes in the 20th century. Of all the music performed at Trinity, only the Symphony of Psalms (1930) is an indisputable masterpiece, well known and often programmed. Several critics convened at the end of the first concert, wondering which works we could “cross off the list,” as the New Yorker’s Alex Ross amusingly put it, of music we had never encountered in concert. We both had looked forward especially to Threni (1957-58) and had come armed with our scores. Wachner’s heartfelt reading was a satisfying account, even if it lacked the clarity of the composer’s recording. The same could be said of Introitus: T.S. Eliot in Memoriam (1965) and Abraham and Isaac (1962-63), the latter a minor revelation due to Sanford Sylvan’s expert vocalism. The performance of The Flood (1961-62) was game, but I find the music arid.
I could never get into the 1948 Mass before this lovely Trinity performance, but whatever delights some find in Canticum Sacrum (which Time magazine headlined “Murder in the Cathedral” for its report on the 1956 Venice premiere) escape me still, as do most of the shorter pieces. But Requiem Canticles (1966)—which Stravinsky called his “pocket requiem” and which was performed at his funeral—is his last masterpiece, albeit a small one, and it was given an eloquent account.
The Symphony of Psalms, the final work in the concerts, was performed in a two-piano arrangement by Karen Keating—a decision that on paper seemed disappointing but that largely avoided the one serious drawback of these concerts: the muddying factor of Trinity Church’s cavernous acoustics, which compromised nearly every performance to some degree. Stravinsky’s rhythms and scoring thrive in utmost clarity, and these performances would have been even more successful in the drier Zankel or Tully halls uptown.
Nevertheless, in the Symphony the superb Trinity chorus could be heard at its full stature without the acoustical confusion of orchestral textures, and the excellent pianists, Pedja Muzijevic and Steven Beck, were perfectly balanced. I’d love to hear Bruckner Motets at Trinity someday.
Tue, April 30, 2013
Stravinsky Inspires a Festival to Get It Together, Fast
The New York Times
The Trinity Choir, the resident professional ensemble at Trinity Church on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, is not unfamiliar with the notion of big undertakings. In recent years this superb chorus has released a reference-quality set of Haydn’s masses on the Naxos label, made a Grammy-nominated recording of Handel’s oratorio “Israel in Egypt” for Musica Omnia, and sung with the Rolling Stones in Brooklyn.
Still, you had to admire the behind-the-scenes fortitude that must have gone into the choir’s Stravinsky Festival, a celebration of that composer’s complete sacred works held at the church on Friday, Saturday and Sunday…
...If Sunday’s concert was indicative of what came before it — and anecdotal evidence suggested that it was — the festival was a resounding success.
Sat, April 27, 2013
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
I went last night to the opening of Trinity Wall Street’s festival of the sacred Stravinsky — an imposing program that included Threni, Abraham and Isaac (with the great Sanford Sylvan), and The Flood. In the crowd were more than a few veteran concertgoers and musicians who were hearing Threni for the first time live; the work has been absent from New York for many years. It’s immensely difficult music, and Julian Wachner’s performance wasn’t always immaculate, but the eerie intensity of Stravinsky’s engagement with Lamentations came through. The power and warmth of Trinity Choir banished any sense that this is cold and inexpressive music. The festival continues tonight and tomorrow afternoon, with renditions of Canticum Sacrum, Requiem Canticles, Cantata, Mass, and Symphony of Psalms. The orchestra, NOVUS NY, is well stocked with excellent young free-lancers; Owen Dalby is the concertmaster, and Alex Sopp, James Austin Smith, and Alicia Lee lead the winds. The lavish program booklet contains three characteristically learned and lively essays by Matthew Guerrieri, featuring epigraphs from, respectively, Ralph Ellison, David Bowie, and Pope Pius X.
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I went last night to the opening of Trinity Wall Street's festival of the sacred Stravinsky — an imposing program that included Threni, Abraham and Isaac (with the great Sanford Sylvan), and The Flood. In the crowd were more than a few veteran concertgoers and musicians who were hearing Threni for the first time live; the work has been absent from New York for many years. It's immensely difficult music, and Julian Wachner's performance wasn't always immaculate, but the eerie intensity of Stravinsky's engagement with Lamentations came through. The power and warmth of Trinity Choir banished any sense that this is cold and inexpressive music. The festival continues tonight and tomorrow afternoon, with renditions of Canticum Sacrum, Requiem Canticles, Cantata, Mass, and Symphony of Psalms. The orchestra, NOVUS NY, is well stocked with excellent young free-lancers; Owen Dalby is the concertmaster, and Alex Sopp, James Austin Smith, and Alicia Lee lead the winds. The lavish program booklet contains three characteristically learned and lively essays by Matthew Guerrieri, featuring epigraphs from, respectively, Ralph Ellison, David Bowie, and Pope Pius X.
My Threni score once belonged to the conductor Charles Groves. I picked it up at Travis & Emery, the wonderful music-book store on Cecil Court in London. I go there every time I'm in the city, invariably leaving with a stack of finds that causes headaches when it comes time to pack my suitcase. Much of Travis & Emery's stock comes from musicians' estates purchased at one time or another over the years; I have scores that were formerly the property of the composers Anthony Milner and Howard Ferguson, and my bound copy of the Beethoven piano concertos belonged to the legendary horn player Alan Civil. I'm listening now to Milner's First Symphony, a toughly argued one-movement score that's worthy of occasional revival.
Fri, April 19, 2013
Review: Hong Kong Philharmonic ‘From Bach to Beatles’
Yahoo! Hong Kong
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音樂會名為《From Bach to Beatles》（《由巴哈到披頭四》），取名想是為求賣座，結果真的有八成入座率，成績不俗，但與音樂會內容有點名不副實。
但去到年輕結他手溫逸朗彈巴哈的E小調布雷舞曲，或許怯場，彈得不夠流暢自然，當他為女歌手Jennifer Palor配奏John Lennon的《Blackbird》時，音樂會的編排就讓人覺得有點「無厘頭」，即使麥卡尼曾透露這歌的結他部分，靈感源自巴哈，但筆者一點也辨認不出，流行曲與古典樂的反差太大了。
Wed, April 10, 2013
Singing Shadows: Early music finds new life downtown.
The New Yorker
In February and March, during the six weeks of Lent, the vocal ensemble TENET presented a series called “TENEbrae,” given over mainly to Renaissance and Baroque settings of Lamentations. The performances took place at Trinity Church, on lower Broadway, in the late afternoon, as the light was fading…In a related event, the Trinity choir performed Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with a first-rate Baroque band and soloists drawn mostly from the choir’s ranks, all under the direction of Julian Wachner, the head of music at Trinity. In late April, Wachner will lead a survey of Stravinsky’s religious works, including his Lamentations oratorio, “Threni.” Such fare might be expected to leave a heavy, doleful impression, but I attended all except two events in the Lenten series and repeatedly walked away in an exhilarated state: the music provided illumination of another kind…
...For decades, New York was considered a backwater in the early-music world, secondary in importance to the thriving scenes in Boston and Berkeley. In recent years, Renaissance and Baroque performance in the city has gained momentum…The ever-growing music program at Trinity is one sign of this revival.
Mon, April 1, 2013
Marveling at the Musical Chairs in a Riotous ‘Passion’ Season
The New York Times
John Scott and the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys opened a run of “St. Matthew” performances on March 21, Bach’s 328th birthday, at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, and Julian Wachner and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra added another three days later at Trinity Church. Regular followers of the New York choral and early-music scenes knew what to expect from those excellent ensembles…
...Mr. Wachner and Mr. Scott routinely work wonders with their disparate choruses: Mr. Scott’s with the soft core of boys’ voices, Mr. Wachner’s with a solid, vibrant center…
...Both performances gave vivid evidence of a newly thriving early-music scene in New York. At long last.
Wed, March 27, 2013
Wachner schätzt ganz offensichtlich keine Ritardandi, die einzelnen Nummern folgten einander teilweise ohne jede Pause; dadurch entstanden geschlossene Spannungsbögen, die der Aufführung sehr gut taten. Die Rezitative waren klug und dramatisch gestaltet, ohne dass es aber übertrieben gewesen wäre. “This was pretty intense” (Das war ganz schön intensiv), sagte beim Herausgehen ein junger Mann zu seiner Freundin. Treffender kann man es kaum ausdrücken. Mein Tipp: Wer an einem Montag in New York ist, der sollte schauen, ob er um 13 Uhr in die St. Paul’s Chapel gehen kann. Der Trinity Chor und das Orchester spielen dort jeweils zwei Kantaten von Bach. Es lohnt sich wirklich!
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Bachs Matthäuspassion in New York
In New York wird in diesen Wochen oft Musik von Johann Sebastian Bach gespielt. Nicht nur die "Bach Variations" des New York Philharmonic Orchestra (klassik.com berichtete), die eine eher gemischte Publikums- und Pressereaktion erfahren haben, auch in den verschiedenen Kirchen Manhattans kann man in der Fastenzeit die Musik von Bach relativ häufig hören. Ein Höhepunkt: die Aufführung der Matthäuspassion in der Trinity Church, direkt an der Ecke zwischen Wall Street und Broadway, aufgeführt von dem ausgezeichneten Trinity Wall Street Chor und dem Trinity Baroque Orchestra unter seinem Leiter Julian Wachner.
Die 24 Sängerinnen und Sänger des Trinity Wall Street Chores sind allesamt ausgebildete Musiker und größtenteils auch in anderen professionellen Chören engagiert. Sie sangen nicht nur die verschiedenen kleinen Rollen der Passion, wie den Pilatus oder Judas, sondern auch die teilweise ja doch überaus anspruchsvollen Arien. Manche, aber nicht alle Solisten, halten dabei durchaus mit den sicherlich deutlich besser dotierten international tätigen Sängern mit, besonders die Sopranistin Molly Quinn, deren Arie 'Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben' einer der Höhepunkte des Abends wurde, die Sopranistin Sarah Brailey ('Blute nur') und die Altistin Luthien Brackett ('Erbarme Dich'). Trotz der vielen Solisten bildet der Chor einen homogenen, runden, kräftigen Klang. Nur den Evangelisten und den Sänger, der die Partie des Jesus sang, hat man nicht durch Mitglieder des Chores besetzt.
Der Evangelist wurde von William Hite gesungen, der über eine klare, freie, helle Tenorstimme verfügt und den Evangelisten angenehmerweise eher als Erzähler denn als betroffener Gestalter singt. Anders Stephen Salters als Jesus. Er verfügt über eine kräftige, wenn nicht sogar laute Stimme, die man sich manchmal etwas vorsichtiger hätte eingesetzt gewünscht. Seine Identifikation mit der Rolle, die sich auch in seiner stets betroffenen Mimik zeigte, schien die Amerikaner weniger zu stören, die ihn am Ende mit großem Applaus bedachen - mir war das doch deutlich zu dick aufgetragen.
Das 2009 gegründete Trinity Baroque Orchestra, das viele renommierte Instrumentalisten vereint, die alle auf "historische" Instrumente spezialisiert sind, ist bestens auf seinen Leiter Julian Wachner eingespielt. Wachner gestaltete die Passion mit ausgesprochen schnellen Tempi, ohne dass aber der Eindruck entstand, es werde durch die Partitur gehetzt. Solche Tempi sind nur möglich, weil die Kirche eine sehr trockene Akkustik hat. Wachner schätzt ganz offensichtlich keine Ritardandi, die einzelnen Nummern folgten einander teilweise ohne jede Pause; dadurch entstanden geschlossene Spannungsbögen, die der Aufführung sehr gut taten. Die Rezitative waren klug und dramatisch gestaltet, ohne dass es aber übertrieben gewesen wäre. "This was pretty intense" (Das war ganz schön intensiv), sagte beim Herausgehen ein junger Mann zu seiner Freundin. Treffender kann man es kaum ausdrücken. Mein Tipp: Wer an einem Montag in New York ist, der sollte schauen, ob er um 13 Uhr in die St. Paul's Chapel gehen kann. Der Trinity Chor und das Orchester spielen dort jeweils zwei Kantaten von Bach. Es lohnt sich wirklich!
Kritik von Prof. Dr. Michael Bordt
Tue, March 5, 2013
Performing Arts: Drama of ‘Elijah’
Washington Life Magazine
In recent years, The Washington Chorus has tackled several major choral masterworks, such as Bach’s “Mass in B Minor” and the Mozart “Requiem,” but the recent performance of Mendelssohn’s grand oratorio “Elijah” marked a first for the symphonic chorus. Monumental in scope, its undue length of three hours, requirements for a large orchestra and a varied cast of soloists makes it almost easier for some ensembles to avoid performing it. But music director Julian Wachner, a distinguished roster of vocal soloists and the Washington chorus made time stand still in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, transporting the audience from one glorious vignette to the next.
Wachner has a gift for not just assembling musical forces, but using every element of a performance for dramatic effect…Though “Elijah” is an oratorio, a sacred work generally on a biblical theme, this performance took on the heightened drama of an opera.
Mon, February 25, 2013
Washington Chorus gives impassioned concert of Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’
The Washington Post
On Sunday, Julian Wachner conducted the Washington Chorus, nine vocal soloists and an orchestra in an impassioned performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s massive oratorio “Elijah” at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall…
The part of Elijah was sung with commanding majesty and with fine shades of emotion by bass Stephen Salters. In solos and at times joined in a double quartet, Janice Chandler Eteme, Laura Vlasak Nolen, Benjamin Butterfield, Mitchell Galloway-Edgar, Steven Combs, Natalie Conte, Pamela Terry and Jerry Kavinski were as effective in portraying the heavy drama as they were in their tonal ebullience.
Early on, the choral mob scenes exploded with onslaughts of triple fortes…Later episodes were beautiful and had careful entrances and well-delineated rhythms.
Tue, February 19, 2013
As the Cantatas Unfurl, a Reprieve Is Affirmed
The New York Times
Trinity is now collaborating with the early-music vocal group Tenet on TENEbrae, six rich weeks of concerts reflecting on the Lenten period. The series opened on Sunday evening with a performance of Dieterich Buxtehude’s 1680 cantata cycle “Membra Jesu Nostri Patientis Sanctissima,” which served as a reminder, if yet another was needed, that Julian Wachner, Trinity’s director of music, has taken the church’s program to new heights.
Fri, February 8, 2013
Grammy Nominee and Conductor Julian Wachner
Religion & Ethics Newsweekly
The choir and baroque orchestra of Trinity Wall Street have been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for their recording of Handel’s “Israel in Egypt.” Watch the choir and orchestra rehearsing the oratorio, and listen to our interview with director of music Julian Wachner about the hymns he loves and the mission of music both in the church and in the classical music world.
Wed, January 9, 2013
Exploring The Classical Field Nominees
Best Choral Performance: The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Israel in Egypt by George Frederic Handel, conducted by Julian Wachner.
Wachner has one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of his career.
Mon, January 7, 2013
MUSIC REVIEW: Christmas Oratorio at St. Paul’s Chapel
The New York Times
As Zachary Woolfe suggested in his review of the Trinity “Messiah” presentation at Alice Tully Hall last month, there is nothing tentative about a Wachner performance. That was again evident from the opening moments of the first cantata on Wednesday, when the excellent choristers raised the rafters of the tiny chapel to the words “Rejoice, exult, arise, glorify the days.”
That text, like so many exciting moments in the oratorio, gains added impetus from the exuberant use of trumpets and timpani. And the presence of John Thiessen, who represents the state of the art on the intractable Baroque trumpet hereabout, was invaluable throughout.
Mr. Wachner’s bold approach paid dividends again on Thursday, when the players of other tricky instruments, like the Baroque hunting horn, struggled at the start of the fourth cantata. Fearlessly Mr. Wachner only exhorted them to redouble their efforts in energy and volume with, ultimately, stirring results.
But he could also exercise notable restraint, as in “I stand by thy manger bed here,” a chorale in the sixth cantata on Friday. Mr. Wachner dispensed with the orchestra and kept the choristers seated as they sang softly to breathtaking effect.
Fri, December 28, 2012
For 12 Days of Christmas, 6 ‘Brandenburg’ Concertos
The New York Times
...this week Mr. Wachner kicked off the second annual Twelfth Night Festival, a rich musical celebration of the 12 days of Christmas that continues through Jan. 6.
The festival delves into lesser-known repertory, from early British Christmas music and Russian works to premieres, including one by Mr. Wachner. But Thursday afternoon brought the evergreen: the first part of a two-day survey of Bach’s six “Brandenburg” Concertos, by the Chamber Players of the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, at St. Paul’s Chapel…
...The Concerto No. 5 comes close to harpsichord concerto territory. After strange harmonic wanderings in the first movement, the work turns to a long, dazzling solo that was handled with flair by Avi Stein. The intimate second-movement Affettuoso, by three of the city’s finest early-music artists — Mr. Stein, the violinist Robert Mealy and the flutist Sandra Miller —alone was worth the trip to Trinity.
As tight as the entire ensemble was, I was consistently drawn to the pleasures of individual players. From the start of the Concerto No. 5, Ms. Miller played with a mellow, quietly penetrating tone. As the knotty rhythms of Concerto No. 1’s third-movement Allegro careened near chaos, Daniel Lee attacked his piccolo violin with alarming yet ravishing vehemence. The oboist Gonzalo Ruiz had a tender solo in that work’s second-movement Adagio.
Mr. Wachner announced before leading the Concerto No. 1 that his interpretation, unlike many, would not let the horns recede into the background. R. J. Kelley and Sara Cyrus played their hunting fanfares with blaring joy, giving the full measure of the work’s irresistible exuberance.
Sun, December 23, 2012
Culture City: A Song Is Worth 1,000 Words
The Wall Street Journal
While pop music is of its time, there were also concerts of timeless choral music. At Trinity Wall Street, the choir and orchestra presented Bach’s Mass in B Minor, a masterpiece that connects to the highs and lows of human life and reaches beyond the moment. “The singing human voice can just touch the soul in a way that nothing else can,” said conductor Julian Wachner. “There is intimacy and a directness to seeing 24 singers 10 feet away from you as opposed to at Madison Square Garden or on the radio.”
Sun, December 16, 2012
From Seething to Earnest, a Work Raises Passions
The New York Times
Led with both fearsome energy and delicate grace by Julian Wachner, the Trinity performance [of ‘Messiah’] was, like last year’s outing, a model of what is musically and emotionally possible with this venerable score…
Done right the oratorio should raise you from your seat. It should not be a passive entertainment, a way to relax after a long day of holiday shopping. It should frighten and galvanize, puzzle and inspire.
The Trinity “Messiah” did all that. It is hard to feel comfortable within the work, which abandons narrative for abstract meditation and consistency of tone for febrile shifts. This performance had inexorable, tense momentum through Handel’s violent mood swings.
The Trinity performance displayed a dazzling range of textures, from the starkness of the chorus “He trusted in God that he would deliver him” to the miraculously dissolving and rebuilding sound of the orchestral Pifa, the pastoral symphony in Part 1…
...to experience the full, formidable range of “Messiah,” from the furious flames of the “refiner’s fire” to the delirious party of the finale, next year let Trinity be your guide.
Mon, December 10, 2012
50 years in, Rolling Stones still a gas, gas, gas
The Boston Globe
The band also played host to three guests: Mary J. Blige came out to testify on “Gimme Shelter,” the choir of Trinity Wall Street lent grandiose vocal ballast to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and buzzed-about blues rocker Gary Clark Jr. erupted all over “Going Down.”
Mon, December 10, 2012
With a flourish, the Rolling Stones take Brooklyn
After an encore break, the group re-emerged, flanked by the Trinity Wall Street choir, who replicated the vocals on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Suddenly they were the smoky filling in a sandwich made on slices of angel food cake.
Mon, December 10, 2012
Rolling Stones Joined by Gary Clark Jr. and Mary J. Blige in Brooklyn
The Rolling Stones were joined by Mary J. Blige, Gary Clark Jr. and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street during their show at Brooklyn, NY’s Barclays Center last night. The band played a set that was heavy on the classics, though they did perform versions of their new singles “One More Shot” and “Doom and Gloom.” Blige made her appearance on “Gimme Shelter,” just as she had during the Stones’ November 25 show at London’s O2 Arena. Meanwhile, Clark brought his blues guitar wizardry to a rendition of Don Nix’s “Going Down,” while The Choir of Trinity Wall Street contributed some grandiosity to the opening of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”