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Trinity Wall Street presents Lamentatio festival for Lent (March 9–April 13)

Last season, Trinity Wall Street observed Lent with a concert series that “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” (New York Times). As this year’s Lenten offering, on the six Sundays before Easter, Trinity presents Lamentatio, a concert series that juxtaposes Renaissance settings of texts from the biblical book of Lamentations with their contemporary counterparts. Masterpieces by Dufay, Ockeghem, Lassus, and Tallis rub shoulders with 20th-century classics by the likes of Shostakovich, Messiaen, Barber, and Ginastera, as well as with works by living composers, including the North American premiere of a major new choral commission: Gabriel Jackson’s Passio. Comprising six concerts between March 9 and April 13 in lower Manhattan’s Trinity Church, Lamentatio features Julian Wachner, Trinity’s Director of Music and the Arts, leading the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, with which he recently scored a Grammy nomination, and NOVUS NY, Trinity’s resident new-music orchestral ensemble. Crowning its full 2013-14 season, the Trinity Choir also looks forward to making its debut at the prestigious Berkeley Festival this summer.
It was TENEbrae, Trinity Wall Street’s 2013 Lenten festival, that prompted the New York Times to pronounce Trinity’s music “indispensable and unmissable,” and the New Yorker’s Alex Ross to confess: “I attended all except two events in the Lenten series and repeatedly walked away in an exhilarated state.” For this year’s Lamentatio festival, Trinity continues exploring music associated with the Lenten Tenebrae services, which trace the events of the Passion, this time taking as its focal point a single text. Traditionally attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, the book of Lamentations is a collection of poetic laments for the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem – understood in Christian theology as a metaphor for the crucifixion – which has, over the past six centuries, inspired some the most profoundly moving music in the Western canon.
Wachner and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street open the series with Lamentatio 1 (March 9), performing selections from unaccompanied choral masterworks of the Franco-Flemish school by Orlande de Lassus and Johannes Ockeghem, whose Missa pro defunctis is the earliest surviving polyphonic setting of the Requiem mass. These will be heard alongside 20th-century compositions by Alberto Ginastera and Ernst Krenek, whose austerely spiritual Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah reveals the influence of both Ockeghem, on whose music the Austrian-born composer was an expert, and Schoenberg’s twelve-tone technique.
A week later, Lamentatio 2: Decoda (March 16) pairs two of the 20th century’s most celebrated chamber works with two 21st-century compositions titled Tenebrae: Osvaldo Golijov’s string quartet (2002), which draws on Couperin’s haunting melismas, and Presser Music Award-winner Nathan Shields’s piece for harp and string quartet (2010). Samuel Barber’s intensely emotional Adagio for Strings (1936) will be performed in its original incarnation for string quartet, together with Olivier Messiaen’s transcendentally ethereal Quatuor pour la fin du temps (1941). Inspired by the New Testament book of Revelations, Messiaen’s quartet was written in a prisoner-of-war camp for the available forces of clarinet, violin, cello, and piano.
For their second a cappella event of the festival, Lamentatio 3 (March 23), Wachner and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street return to the Renaissance for three choral works: the remaining movements of Missa pro defunctis, Ockeghem’s epic mass for the dead; The Lamentations of Jeremiah, probably the final composition by England’s Thomas Tallis; and four motets lamenting the fall of Byzantium by the Netherlands’ Guillaume Dufay.
In Lamentatio 4 (March 30), Trinity’s new-music orchestral ensemble, NOVUS NY, performs Tenebrae Litanies (1991) by Canadian composer Peter Togni together with two symphonies: Philip Glass’s Third (1995) and Dmitri Shostakovich’s 14th (1969) for soprano, bass, strings, and percussion. A setting of poems concerned primarily with unjust or untimely death, Shostakovich’s dark symphony was conceived as a creative response to Mussorgsky’s more sanguine Songs and Dances of Death.
For Lamentatio 5 (April 6), the festival’s penultimate concert, guest conductor Michael Zaugg leads the Choir of Trinity Wall Street in a collection of contemporary a cappella works inspired by the theme of “a time for everything” in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes: again (after ecclesiastes) (2005) by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lang; “Santiago” from Path of Miracles (2005) by Britain’s Joby Talbot; Lamentations (2011) by Poland’s Pawel Lukaszewski; A time for everything (1990) by Denmark’s Bo Holten; and O Domine (1983) for contralto and chorus by Sweden’s Thomas Jennefelt. Brahms’s motet Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz (1860), a setting of Psalm 51, rounds out the program.
Drawing the Lenten series to a fittingly impassioned close, in Lamentatio 6 (April 13) Trinity Wall Street is proud to present the North American premiere of Passio by Bermuda-born Gabriel Jackson (b. 1962). In his epic new work for soloists, choir, and chamber ensemble, Jackson, who serves as Associate Composer to the BBC Singers, sets material from all four Gospel narratives, interspersed with Latin hymns and English poetry. Passio was commissioned for this year’s 750th anniversary celebrations at Merton College, Oxford, where it will receive its world premiere in the first week of April. For the first American performance, the Trinity Choir and NOVUS NY will be joined in downtown Manhattan by the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, under the leadership of Benjamin Nicholas, Director of Music at Merton.
Full details of the Lamentatio festival follow below.
Trinity Choir announces Berkeley Festival debut
This June, Trinity Wall Street looks forward to making an important debut at California’s 2014 Berkeley Festival and Exhibition, where the Choir of Trinity Wall Street will give concerts of Bach’s complete motets for double choir (June 5) and Franco-Flemish masterpieces (June 6). Since its founding in 1990, the biennial festival has been recognized worldwide as one of the foremost events of its kind, bringing together early music performers, scholars, instrument makers, publishers, and enthusiasts for a week of concerts, lectures, conferences, and masterclasses in and around the First Congregational Church and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley. Other artists appearing at this year’s festival include pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout and Belgian vocal ensemble Vox Luminis, making its U.S. debut.
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Trinity Wall Street
One of the oldest, largest and most vibrant of all Episcopal parishes, Trinity Wall Street is located in the heart of Manhattan’s financial district, where it has created a dynamic home for great music. Serving as director of Trinity’s Music and the Arts Program – as well as principal conductor of the Trinity Choir, the period-instrument Trinity Baroque Orchestra and the contemporary-music ensemble-in-residence NOVUS NY – Julian Wachner also oversees all liturgical, professional and community music and arts programming at Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel. The music at Trinity ranges from large-scale oratorios to chamber music, from intimate a cappella singing to jazz improvisation. All concerts at Trinity Wall Street are professionally filmed and webcast live at
Trinity Wall Street presents Lamentatio
Sun, March 9 at 5pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall)
Johannes Ockeghem: “Introitus: Requiem aeternam/Kyrie” from Missa pro defunctis
Ernst Krenek: The Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah, Op. 93 Part I
Alberto Ginastera: Lamentations of Jeremiah
Orlande de Lassus: “Lamentatio Prima, Secunda, Tertia” from Feria sexta in Parasceve à 5
Choir of Trinity Wall Street / Julian Wachner
Sun, March 16 at 5pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall)
Osvaldo Golijov: Tenebrae
Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings
Nathan Shields: Tenebrae for harp and string quartet
Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps
Sun, March 23 at 5pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall)
Johannes Ockeghem: “Tractus: Sicut cervus desiderat/Offertorium” from Missa pro defunctis
Thomas Tallis: Lamentations of Jeremiah
Guillaume Dufay: Motets for Byzantium
Lamentatio sanctae matris ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae
Apostolus gloriosus
Balsamus et mundra cera
Vasilissa ergo gaude
Choir of Trinity Wall Street / Julian Wachner
Sun, March 30 at 5pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall)
Peter Togni: Tenebrae Litanies (1991) – for String Orchestra
Philip Glass: Symphony No 3
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 14
NOVUS NY / Julian Wachner
Jessica Muirhead, soprano
TBD, bass
Sun, April 6 at 5pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall)
LAMENTATIO 5: “Ecclesiastes”
Bo Holten: A time for everything
Pawel Lukaszewski: Lamentations
Johannes Brahms: Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz
Thomas Jennefelt: O Domine
David Lang: again (after ecclesiastes)
Joby Talbot: Santiago (from Path of Miracles)
Choir of Trinity Wall Street
Michael Zaugg, guest conductor
Sun, April 13 at 5pm (Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall)
Gabriel Jackson: Passio (North American Premiere)
Choir of Trinity Wall Street
Choir of Merton College, Oxford
Benjamin Nicholas, guest conductor
This Week at Trinity Wall Street App
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© 21C Media Group, February 2014


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