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Trinity Church Wall Street Presents Philip Glass’s Monumental Symphony No. 5 (May 19 & 20), Plus Monteverdi Vespers Tonight (May 9)

Continuing its tradition of providing the public with an exquisite and wide-ranging array of free musical offerings, many of which are professionally filmed and webcast live, Trinity Church Wall Street presents two performances of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5 on May 19 & 20 at Trinity Church. In response to the turbulence manifested since last November’s election, Director of Music Julian Wachner reworked the spring schedule so that this ambitious and apposite undertaking would be the centerpiece. The work’s interfaith text draws from many traditions to emphasize the too-easily-forgotten commonality of human experience, the final movement opening with the lines, “May I be a protector for those without one/And a lamp for those desiring light.” Presented by The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Trinity Youth Chorus, Trinity’s semi-professional chorus Downtown Voices, five soloists, and Trinity’s resident contemporary music orchestra NOVUS NY, all under Wachner’s direction, this programming highlights the role of Trinity’s music program as a ministry to the people of New York, focusing on spiritual nourishment and community creation.

Tonight (May 9), celebrating the day of Monteverdi’s 450th birthday, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Trinity Youth Chorus, and Trinity Baroque Orchestra led by Wachner will present Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 in Trinity Church, and tomorrow the performance will be repeated at the Cathedral Basilica in Philadelphia. Other May presentations include, in St. Paul’s Chapel, the two remaining concerts in the water-themed Concerts at One “Sunken Cathedral” series, conceived in response to the Trinity Institute National Theological Conference held this past March, which focused on climate-change-related water justice issues.

As part of its mission to serve the community, Trinity’s music program has, on many occasions, been an incubator for new and emerging compositional voices, sometimes with results that reach far beyond the walls of Trinity. Indeed, during the finale of the Sunken Cathedral series, one of the works will be the world premiere of a Trinity-commissioned piece by Jessica Meyer, the details of which can be found below. Another such voice has been composer Du Yun, whose opera Angel’s Bone was presented in Trinity Church as a work-in-progress in 2014 and co-presented by Trinity at the Prototype Festival as a fully-staged production in 2016, on both occasions with the participation of The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY, conducted by Wachner. Just a few weeks ago the work was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Music. As the New York Times observes, “Trinity’s music is indispensable and unmissable,” representing “the top of musical life in New York.”

Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5

Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5 was originally commissioned and conceived for the Salzburg Festival celebration of the turn of the millennium. Glass worked with advisors from the Interfaith Center of New York and St. Francis College to collect religious texts from many traditions that, in the symphony’s first two parts, would reflect on humanity’s collective past and present. The third section focuses on a message of hope for what’s to come: its title “Nirmanakaya” refers to a future manifestation of enlightenment. The original texts were all translated into English so that their parallel images and common vision were clear. After Wachner conducted a rare performance of the piece with his Washington Chorus last fall at the Kennedy Center, an enthusiastic Washington Post review declared:

“You probably haven’t heard the Fifth Symphony live. Most American orchestras wouldn’t gamble on playing an evening-length contemporary work, particularly not one by Glass, who remains one of this country’s best known, most performed and least appreciated composers. … The piece has an ideal conductor in Julian Wachner, the Washington Chorus’s colorful, talented music director. A composer himself, he’s a strong advocate for contemporary music, and his flair for the dramatic and large-scale bore fruit here.”

Monteverdi Vespers

In celebration of Monteverdi’s 450th birthday today, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Trinity Youth Chorus, and Trinity Baroque Orchestra led by Wachner present a free performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, another monumental masterpiece involving an up to ten-part chorus along with seven soloists. Tomorrow, the same forces will perform the piece in Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica, for which tickets are available here.

As Wachner says of Monteverdi’s masterwork:

“Monteverdi’s epic Vespers of 1610 stands alone in the repertoire as a culmination of one time period and the confident heralding of the new; a virtual encyclopedia displaying all that was possible compositionally up until that point, and ushering in the new style that was to reach its zenith in the monumental works of Handel, Bach and Vivaldi.”

Trinity’s unparalleled array of free, ambitious musical offerings also includes, on Thursday, May 11 and Thursday, May 18 at 1pm in St. Paul’s Chapel, the two remaining concerts in the “Sunken Cathedral” series. The series, focused on social justice issues related to water, has featured diverse arrangements of Debussy’s classic and haunting prelude La Cathédrale engloutie, alongside a variety of newer compositions focusing on climate change and water. The first May performance features the Canadian Brass as guest artists, and the second concert will be performed by NOVUS NY in their regular “Third Thursday” slot. Included in that concert’s program, to honor this year’s centennial of the birth of composer Lou Harrison, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Become Ocean by Harrison student John Luther Adams, named after a John Cage poem about Harrison and his music which ends “listening to it we become ocean.” The same concert, which marks the finale of the Sunken Cathedral series, will also include the Trinity-commissioned world premiere of “Through Which We Flow” by Jessica Meyer – a piece commissioned to raise awareness of water justice issues – and Luna Pearl Woolf’s After the Wave, dedicated to the survivors of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed nearly a quarter of a million people.

About Trinity Church Wall Street

A growing Episcopal community focused on service to others, Trinity is located in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District, where it has created a dynamic home for music ministries. Trinity offers an unparalleled array of free, inspiring programming by world class performers in historic spaces throughout the year, in addition to liturgical music at worship services. Trinity’s music program incorporates high-quality music education and outreach to youth in New York City, furthering Trinity’s mission to build neighborhoods and foster faithful leadership. Led by Julian Wachner, music at Trinity ranges from large-scale oratorios to chamber music, and from intimate a cappella singing to jazz improvisation. Trinity’s roster of resident ensembles includes The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, new music orchestra NOVUS NY, Trinity Baroque Orchestra, the semi-professional choir Downtown Voices, Trinity Youth Chorus, Trinity ISO Florentine Youth Orchestra, and the Family Choir. Many concerts at Trinity are professionally filmed and webcast live at Performances by the Trinity Wall Street Choir and Baroque Orchestra under the direction of Julian Wachner can be heard each Monday at 1pm on WWFM The Classical Network, The Rev. Dr. William Lupfer is Rector of Trinity Church Wall Street and the Rev. Phillip Jackson is Vicar of Trinity Church Wall Street.

Trinity Church Wall Street: May 2017 Concerts

Tuesday, May 9, 8pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street, New York, NY) – Free

Wednesday, May 10, 7:30pm (Cathedral Basilica, Philadelphia, PA) – Ticketed
Monteverdi Vespers
Claudio Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine
Trinity Baroque Orchestra, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Youth Chorus
Julian Wachner, conductor

Thursday, May 11, 1pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, New York, NY) – Free
Concerts at One: Sunken Cathedral
Canadian Brass

Thursday, May 18, 1pm (St. Paul’s Chapel, New York, NY) – Free
Concerts at One: Sunken Cathedral / Third Thursdays with NOVUS NY
John Luther Adams: Become Ocean
Jessica Meyer:  World Premiere
Luna Pearl Wolfe: After the Wave
Julian Wachner, conductor

Friday, May 19, 8pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street, New York, NY) – Free

Saturday, May 20, 8pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street, New York, NY) – Free
Philip Glass: Symphony No. 5 (Requiem, Bardo, Nirmanakaya)
NOVUS NY, Downtown Voices, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Trinity Youth Chorus
Julian Wachner, conductor

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© 21C Media Group, May 2017

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