Oratorio Society of New York to Open 141st Season at Carnegie Hall, Today
The Oratorio Society of New York, the city's standard for grand choral performance, launches its 141st Carnegie Hall concert season with two pillars of choral grandeur: Mozart's Requiem, in the original Süssmayr edition, and Mendelssohn's rarely-performed secular cantataDie erste Walpurgisnacht (The First Walpurgis Night), conducted by Kent Tritle, on Monday, November 4, 2013, at 8:00 PM.
Kent Tritle, in his ninth season as OSNY Music Director, has assembled a roster of soloists for the program featuring Jennifer Zetlan, soprano; Jennifer Feinstein, mezzo-soprano; Aaron Blake, tenor; Sidney Outlaw, baritone; and Soloman Howard, bass.
The program pairs Mozart's powerful Requiem, one of the quintessential expressions of sorrow, with Mendelssohn's exuberant secular cantata, one of his largest symphonic choral works (following Elijah and Paulus, both of which have been performed since 2010 by the OSNY). Die este Walpurgisnacht is a setting of a poem by Goethe depicting a wily deception by a group of druids who, attempting to practice their pagan rites in the face of Christian opposition, masquerade as devils to scare the Christians away.
As Kent Tritle notes in a video on the OSNY website, Die erste Walpurgisnacht is "a work about religious tolerance. It had been discounted by many people because it is a shorter work, and it's only really much more recent scholarship that has pointed out how important this piece was to Mendelssohn-and as a result has made possible scholarly editions." Of the character of the work itself, he notes that "the orchestra plays a major role in creating the scenery-think A Midsummer Night's Dream-and the four soloists (alto, tenor, baritone, bass) play specific characters, so this is really a mini-drama."
On December 23, the OSNY will take New York's holiday musical season to a culmination with its 204th performance of Handel's Messiahwith soloists Kathryn Lewek, Rebecca Ringle, Nicolas Phan, and Dashon Burton. Mr. Tritle will bring the OSNY's Carnegie Hall series to a close with a performance of Bach's epic St. Matthew Passion on May 20 with soloists Nicholas Phan as the Evangelist, Kevin Deas as Christus, and Leslie Fagan, Susanne Mentzer, Matthew Plenk, and Kelly Markgraf. In the course of the 2013-14 season, Mr. Tritle will conduct all three of Bach's great choral masterworks: the St. Matthew Passion with the OSNY, the St. John Passion at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; and the Mass in B Minor at the Manhattan School of Music.
In addition to its own annual Carnegie Hall series, on March 6, 2014, the OSNY will be the guest chorus for a performance of Beethoven's profound Missa Solemnis, to be conducted by Sir Roger Norrington with the Orchestra of St. Luke's. And on November 20, 2013, it will participate in "Most Elevating of Voices," a concert celebrating the musical legacy of Andrew Carnegie and his support of organ and choral music. The event will be led by Mr. Tritle as part of his "Great Music in a Great Space" series at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and features choruses from three of his affiliated organizations: the Oratorio Society of New York, the Cathedral Choirs of St. John the Divine, the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Choir.
In March 2014, the OSNY will hold its 38th annual Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Solo Competition, the only competition to focus exclusively on oratorio singing. The competition begins in late March and draws more than 100 applicants from around the world. Finals will be held on Saturday, April 5 in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall.
Kent Tritle, one of America's leading choral conductors, is in his ninth season as Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York. Called "the brightest star in New York's choral music world" by The New York Times, he is also Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and Music Director of Musica Sacra, the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York. In addition, Tritle is Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music and is a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School. He is the host of the weekly radio show "The Choral Mix with Kent Tritle," an hour-long radio program on New York's Classical 105.9 WQXR andwww.wqxr.org. An acclaimed organ virtuoso, he is also the organist of the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra. www.kenttritle.com