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Trinity Church Wall Street’s Curated “Concerts at One” Series Begins Tomorrow, October 6, Featuring Subway Performers

Advancing its commitment to support music broadly and deeply in New York City, Trinity Church Wall Street introduces a new “Subway Series” during “Concerts at One.” Debuting tomorrow, October 6, the series comprises six concerts performed by outstanding NYC subway musicians, chosen by Director of Music Julian Wachner with recommendations from the Trinity community. Ranging from two to four acts per program, each concert will be hosted by a member of NOVUS NY, and each act will be filmed and made available on Trinity’s website and on YouTube. As always, the Concerts at One “Third Thursdays with NOVUS NY” will feature the new music orchestra. On October’s Third Thursday, in keeping with the city-oriented theme of the Subway Series, the orchestra plays Aaron Copland’s Quiet City and Steve Reich’s City Life, which incorporates actual subway sounds among other city audio samples. November’s Third Thursday concert wraps up the Subway Series with NOVUS NY performing works by percussionist Andy Akiho, who used to play steel pan in the subways and is now in high demand as a new music composer. As has proved true for Akiho and all these tenacious performers, both literally and figuratively, all subway lines lead to Trinity.

The performers

Two acts are presented in the first concert of the Subway Series (Oct 6). A Virginia native with a soulful voice, guitarist and singer-songwriter Najah Lewis was a contestant on the 14th season of American Idol, and was featured last August in Time Out New York. She shares the bill with the Ebony Hillbillies, one of the last black string bands in the U.S. The band is devoted to continuing the traditional musical legacy of the 19th-century string dance band, an important influence on the development of jazz and virtually every genre that followed it, including blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, rock and roll, and country.

Vibraphonist Sean McCaul, a veteran of the legendary Towson State University Jazz Ensemble who has collaborated with the likes of Philip Glass and Yo-Yo Ma, opens the second program (Oct 13). McCaul’s debut studio album, Midnight at the Purple Palace, was released earlier this year by Underwater Peoples Records. On the same program are Salieu Suso on the West African harp known as the kora, and beatboxer Verbal Ase. Suso, born into a family of traditional musicians and farmers in Gambia, began training with his father, also renowned on the kora, at the age of 8, and is a leader in the U.S.’s rapidly growing African music scene. Ase is a verbal sound effects prodigy and one-man band, with a surprising bonus expertise in replicating his chosen venue’s most common sounds: subway announcements and trains.

Complementing the Subway Series is the first “Third Thursday” concert with NOVUS NY, featuring city-themed music by Steve Reich and Aaron Copland (Oct 20). Reich’s City Life is a minimalist composition for chamber orchestra that also uses two pianos and digital samplers. The samples were mainly recorded by the composer in and around New York, and include car horns, air brakes, car alarms, and a variety of other urban sounds. Also on the program is Copland’s Quiet City, which was originally written for Irwin Shaw’s play of the same name. The play never made it out of previews, but an important plot point revolves around the trumpet, which is one of the solo instruments in Copland’s work, along with the English horn.

The Subway Series resumes with three performers: guitarist and singer-songwriter Tara Hack, violin soloist James Graseck, and singer and drummer Mr. Reed (Oct 27). Tara Hack has a reputation as a musical activist, having gained prominence and Australian airplay when she was 18 as the co-writer of a song called “Saya Tidak Bersalah” (I’m Not Guilty) about an Australian woman, Schapelle Corby, who was wrongfully imprisoned in Indonesia. The Juilliard-trained Graseck, who plays repertoire from Bach to Cole Porter for the commuting crowds, discovered the joys of playing for subway audiences years ago, by accident, while practicing on a Long Island Railroad platform during a delay in service. He also plays with the Synergy String Quartet. Mr. Reed is an infectiously enthusiastic, crowd-pleasing hip-hop and soul singer who accompanies himself with a snare drum and high hat, sitting on an upright suitcase that doubles as a bass drum thanks to a pedal that he plays with his heel. His preferred territory is the Bedford Avenue station in Williamsburg.

Three more outstanding instrumentalists make up the next program of the series (Nov 3). South Carolina-born saxophonist Chris Hemingway, fluent in both jazz and classical styles, is well known in the NYC jazz scene and at 21 was a featured concerto soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Classical trumpeter Eganam Segbefia, originally from Ghana, plays during the early morning commute in Grand Central Station. Segbefia first played in the subway just to earn money to pay off a parking ticket, but realizing the positive impact his music could have on people’s lives, he made it a regular practice. He was featured on WQXR’s “Classical Commute” blog in July 2015. Joining the two of them is guitarist and singer Scott Stenten, whose instrument of choice is usually a custom-built double-necked guitar and who is recognized for pioneering a percussive “tapping” style. Stenten is also the inventor of a modified capo that facilitates alternate tunings without having to retune the strings.

The penultimate concert also has the biggest roster, with four acts on the bill (Nov 10). Dancer and singer Marcqiese Marc trained at the famous Professional Performing Arts High School, has appeared off-Broadway and on multiple occasions at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Classically trained, he sings a wide variety of genres, specializing in the classic songs of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, among many others. Guitarist and singer-songwriter Frank Schaub plays and sings a blues-inflected rock with electric guitar. Remarkable octogenarian Moses Josiah is a musical saw player from Guyana whose first performance on a street corner was in 1947. Finally, the trio known as Bandits on the Run plays a cheerful and ebullient indie pop, the perfect antidote to the daily underground sonic assault, with guitar and cello accompaniment and three-part harmony.

The final concert of the Subway Series is devoted to celebrating steel-pan player and new music composer Andy Akiho (Nov 17). He will appear in his own set like the other subway artists, before performances of his works by NOVUS NY. The New York Times has described Akiho as “mold-breaking,” “alert and alive,” “dramatic,” and “vital”; recent credits include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect; performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella, Chicago Symphony’s Music NOW, and Berlin Philharmonic’s Scharoun Ensemble; and four concerts featuring Akiho’s original works at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Akiho was awarded the 2014-15 Rome Prize, among many others, and his compositions have been featured on PBS’s “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and by organizations such as Bang on a Can, American Composers Forum, and the Society for New Music. With a Master’s in performance from Manhattan School of Music and in composition from Yale, Akiho is currently pursuing a doctorate in composition at Princeton. Released by Innova Recordings, his debut CD, NO one To kNOW one, features compositions that pose intricate rhythms and exotic timbres around his primary instrument, the steel pan.

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. Serving as director of Trinity’s Music Program – as well as principal conductor of The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the period-instrument Trinity Baroque Orchestra, and contemporary-music ensemble-in-residence NOVUS NY – Julian Wachner also oversees all liturgical, professional, and community music programming at Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel. Music at Trinity ranges from large-scale oratorios to chamber music, and from intimate a cappella singing to jazz improvisation. 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.

For high-resolution photos, click here.


Trinity Church Wall Street: Concerts at One, Subway Series

Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street
Thursday, Oct 6, 1pm
Concerts at One: Subway Series – Subway Artists Season Premiere
Hosted by NOVUS NY Concertmaster, Katie Hyun
Performances by:
Najah Lewis
The Ebony Hillbillies

Thursday, Oct 13, 1pm
Concerts at One: Subway Series
Hosted by NOVUS NY principal bass, Doug Balliett
Performances by:
Sean McCaul, vibraphone
Salieu Suso, kora
Verbal Ase, beatboxer

Thursday, Oct 20, 1pm
Concerts at One: Subway Series; Third Thursdays with NOVUS NY
Steve Reich: City Life
Aaron Copland: Quiet City
NOVUS NY; Julian Wachner, conductor

Thursday, Oct 27, 1pm
Concerts at One: Subway Series
Hosted by NOVUS NY harpist, Bridget Kibbey
Performances by:
Tara Hack, singer/songwriter
James Graseck, violin
Mr. Reed, singer/drummer

Thursday, Nov 3, 1pm
Concerts at One: Subway Series
Hosted by NOVUS NY violist, Nathan Schram
Performances by:
Chris Hemingway, saxophone
Eganam Segbefia, trumpet
Scott Stenten, guitar

Thursday, Nov 10, 1pm
Concerts at One: Subway Series
Hosted by NOVUS NY trumpeter, Brandon Ridenour
Performances by:
Marcqiese Marc, singer
Frank Schaub, singer/songwriter
Moses Josiah, saw
Bandits on the Run

Thursday, Nov 17, 1pm
Concerts at One: Subway Series; Third Thursdays with NOVUS NY
Andy Akiho: Subway to Success
NOVUS NY; Julian Wachner, conductor


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© 21C Media Group, October 2016

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