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Trinity Church Wall Street Releases The Snow Lay on the Ground – Festive Carol Settings and Organ Improvisations by Music Director Julian Wachner – on Arsis Records

Two weeks ago, Trinity Church Wall Street released a holiday album on the Arsis Records label titled The Snow Lay on the Ground, comprising nine carol arrangements by Director of Music Julian Wachner, interspersed with four carol-based organ improvisations performed by him. The new album features the acclaimed Choir of Trinity Wall Street – heard on the recent recording of Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anthracite Fields – along with the Trinity Youth Chorus, brass and percussion from Trinity’s resident contemporary music orchestra, NOVUS NY, and James Kennerley on organ for the carol settings. Trinity will celebrate the album release with a reception at St. Paul’s Chapel today, November 16 at 2pm, immediately following Bach at One.

Wachner’s arrangements on the album run the gamut from the simple harp, brass and percussion on the title track to the interplay of the full brass choir on “The First Nowell,” to the lovely a cappella “Niño Lindo.” There are also surprises: the brass opening to “Angels We Have Heard on High” is pure Hollywood, and the a cappella “Silent Night” has a measured pace that departs from the dirge-like tempo dictated by tradition. The Trinity Youth Chorus is highlighted on “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” and “Joy to the World” is appropriately arranged for all participants. Wachner’s organ improvisations range from the magnificence of “Puer nobis” to the hushed serenity of “Divinum mysterium,” traversing a large tonal palette along the way.

Julian Wachner is known as one of North America’s most versatile musicians, sought after as conductor, composer and keyboard artist. His most important works for orchestra and voices were compiled on Musica Omnia’s 2014 3-CD collection Julian Wachner: Symphony No. 1, with the same forces that join him on this new album plus the Majestic Brass Quintet. His opera REV. 23, written in collaboration with librettist Cerise Jacobs, was first workshopped in Boston in September and will be developed further in January during Trinity’s Time’s Arrow festival. An October Garden, his choral work on texts by Christina Rossetti, was performed last month in St. Paul’s Chapel by Trinity’s semiprofessional chorus, Downtown Voices, and NOVUS NY, and given its New York premiere last spring with the composer leading the Washington Master Chorale Chamber Choir in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. This past September, he also led the Boston world premiere of Paola Prestini and Cerise Jacobs’s opera Gilgamesh, and made his conducting debut with San Francisco Opera in 2014 with a production of Handel’s romantic comedy Partenope.

Wachner is widely recognized for his skill in improvisation, which, though unusual now outside the context of jazz, was once central to a musician’s training. His technical palette ranges from aleatoricism to serialism, with a fundamental rhythmic drive and a thorough structural imagination. Wachner’s improvisations, in which a 14th-century cadence might be juxtaposed with a 21st-century keyboard technique, were heard in Trinity’s 2014 “Lamentatio” concerts, and the same Weill Recital Hall performance last spring that featured An October Garden included an improvisatory piece showcasing his celebrated virtuosity.

Together with social justice and reconciliation, education, strengthening neighborhoods, and feeding New York City’s hungry, music is one of the key ministries provided by Trinity Church Wall Street. The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and its sister ensembles have released recordings on the Acis, Naxos, Musica Omnia, VIA Records, and Avie Records labels. Besides scoring a Grammy nomination for Handel’s Israel in Egypt, The Choir has collaborated with composers Du Yun, Paola Prestini, Ralf Gawlick, Elena Ruehr, and Trevor Weston, and may be heard under Wachner’s leadership on the recent recording of Julia Wolfe’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning and Grammy-nominated work, Anthracite Fields.

Click here to hear audio samples from The Snow Lay on the Ground. Click here to learn more about additional Trinity Church Wall Street recordings.

About Trinity Church Wall Street

One of the oldest and most vibrant Episcopal parishes, 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, the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, the semi-professional choir Downtown Voices, the Trinity Youth Chorus, the Trinity ISO Florentine Youth Orchestra, and the Family Choir. Many concerts at Trinity are professionally filmed and webcast live at 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 presents The Snow Lay on the Ground

Label: Arsis Records
Release date: November 2, 2016
The Choir of Trinity Wall Street
The Trinity Youth Chorus
James Kennerley, organ
Julian Wachner, organ and conductor

Track Listing:

  1. The Snow Lay on the Ground
    2. Angels We Have Heard on High
    3. Un Flambeau
    4. The First Nowell
    5. Improvisation: Puer nobis
    6. Niño Lindo
    7. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
    8. Improvisation: Adeste Fidelis
    9. Joy to the World
    10. Improvisation: Divinum mysterium
    11. Silent Night
    12. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
    13. Improvisation: In dulci jubilo

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© 21C Media Group, November 2016

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