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Trinity Choir performs contemporary works at Zankel Hall on May 31

The Trinity Choir, renowned for its performances of sacred music at the historic Trinity Wall Street Church and St. Paul’s Chapel in lower Manhattan, moves uptown this spring for a wide-ranging program of contemporary works at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. For the May 31 concert, which marks the Trinity Choir’s Zankel Hall debut, Music Director Julian Wachner will conduct his own Rilke Songs and works by three of today’s fast-rising composers: Laura Elise Schwendinger, Du Yun, and Luna Pearl Woolf. The program also includes Woolf’s poignant, virtuosic response to Hurricane Katrina, Après moi, le déluge, for which the choir will be joined by cellist Matt Haimovitz. The program also incorporates five of America’s best-loved spirituals: “Ain’a That Good News!,” “There Is a Balm in Gilead,” “Soon Ah Will Be Done,” “Precious Lord,” and “Battle of Jericho.” The Zankel concert highlights the range and versatility of Trinity Wall Street’s music programs in venues outside its Trinity Wall Street Church home, following the Trinity Choir and Trinity Baroque Orchestra’s December 2011 Lincoln Center debut with Handel’s Messiah at Alice Tully Hall. 
The Trinity Choir’s May program at Zankel Hall begins with Seven Choral Settings by Laura Elise Schwendinger, commissioned in 1994 by Julian Wachner for Marsh Chapel at Boston University. Schwendinger—artistic director of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she also serves on the music composition faculty—has an extensive catalogue of vocal and instrumental music that has been described as “delectable and captivating” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer) and “fresh and compelling” (Pittsburgh Tribune). Her setting of e. e. cummings’s in Just-spring has been performed on tour by soprano Dawn Upshaw and pianist Gilbert Kalish at venues including Carnegie Hall and the Tanglewood and Ojai festivals, and was recently released on the TDK/Naxos DVD Voices of Our Time. The New York Times wrote that her Pocket Concerto: Chiaroscuro Azzurro with violinist Jennifer Koh at New York’s Miller Theatre in 2007 is “likely to blossom with repeated listening,” and the Boston Globe wrote that her Magic Carpet Music “rejoices in edge and has a force that has its way … Here is a composer with distinct voice.”
Du Yun describes her 2003 work San as “my inner hearing of the ancient Chinese qin [seven-string zither] piece ‘Guang Ling San,’ which is known for its nobleness … Using a computer to patch events together, my inner hearing is thus amplified; at times, a tiny nuance that my inner listening field responded to is turned into a great happening in the piece.” Du Yun’s works have been performed across North America, Europe, Mexico, Argentina, and China; the New York Times wrote that the terms “young composer” and “pianist” can “hardly do her justice,” while Time Out New York wrote that she “reinvents herself daily” and “doesn’t feel the need to tame her wild side.” She has composed music for concert halls as well as for art shows, off-off-Broadway theaters, and avant-garde venues, where she performs on amplified/processed Chinese zither (zheng), piano, laptop, and with her own voice.
In Julian Wachner’s Rilke Songs (2002), Trinity’s music director takes on the double role of composer with his setting of six of Rilke’s poems set for SATB chorus: “Die Gazelle,” “Der Panther,” “Die Flamingos,” “Der Schwan,” “Schwartze Katze,” and “Das Einhorn.” Wachner’s song cycle is text-driven and thick, with dense textures that give way to unison and simple four-part homophony, with frequent bitonality. Choral Journal praised the work, saying “Rilke Songs is a technically and vocally demanding cycle … [The songs] are an outstanding contribution to choral literature.” From the peaceful stillness of a gazelle standing in rapt attention as it watches a woman bathing in a forest lake to the tight tessitura and dynamic range of an endlessly pacing panther, Rilke Songs communicates the poet’s fascination with the flow of animal motion.
The Choir of Trinity Wall Street shares music shaped by experiences during its mission work in the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina with a performance of Luna Pearl Woolf’s Après moi, le déluge for choir and cello. Reviewing the work’s debut in 2006 with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Concert Choir and cellist Matt Haimovitz, the New York Times called it “an unsentimental but moving tribute … by turns blazingly ardent and softly haunting,” and Strings magazine described it as “sorrowful, deeply political, and aching with universal regret.” For its performance in Zankel Hall, Matt Haimovitz will once again play the piece’s virtuosic cello part alongside the Trinity Choir.
About Trinity Wall Street
One of the oldest, largest, and most vibrant of Episcopal parishes, Trinity Wall Street is located in the heart of New York’s financial district, where it has created a dynamic home for great music. Trinity Wall Street’s 2010-11 season got off to an exciting start with the appointment of noted conductor, composer, and keyboardist Julian Wachner as Director of Trinity’s “Music and the Arts” program. Serving as principal conductor of the Trinity Choir and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, he also oversees all liturgical, professional, and community music and arts programming at Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel. The Trinity Choir and Trinity Baroque Orchestra offer a full season of concerts, ranging from large-scale oratorios to intimate evenings of a cappella singing and chamber music.
Trinity Choir at Zankel Hall
May 31 at 7:30pm
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall
New York, NY
Program of Contemporary Works
Laura Elise Schwendinger: Seven Choral Settings (1994)
Du Yun: San (2003)
Julian Wachner: Rilke Songs (2002)
Five Spirituals
“Ain’a that Good News!”
“There is a Balm in Gilead”
“Soon Ah Will Be Done”
“Precious Lord”
“Battle of Jericho”
Luna Pearl Woolf: Après moi, le déluge (After me, the flood) (2006)
Trinity Choir / Julian Wachner
Matt Haimovitz, cello

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