Musica Sacra Announces MESSIAH Performances At Carnegie Hall


For over 45 years, Musica Sacra has delighted audiences with its annual performances of Handel's Messiah. On Tuesday, December 20, and Wednesday, December 21, both at 8 pm at Carnegie Hall, Musica Sacra performs Handel's masterpiece once again with music director Kent Tritle conducting the luminous Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra and vocal soloists Leslie Fagan, soprano, Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano, Kevin Deas, bass, and Cullen Gandy, tenor, in his Carnegie Hall debut.

Vivien Schweitzer of the New York Times called Musica Sacra’s 2010 performances of Messiah “wholly satisfying… The orchestra performed beautifully throughout the evening, with transparent textures, a buoyant pulse and expressive phrasing…aptly matched by the fleet, cleanly enunciated and radiant singing of the chorus.”

Musica Sacra’s long tradition of presenting Messiah in New York began in the 1960s under the choir’s founder and Music Director Richard Westenburg, and its annual concerts represent the longest-running performances of Messiah by a professional chorus in New York City’s history.

For its two 2011 performances Musica Sacra is joined by four soloists:

? Soprano, Leslie Fagan, has performed under the batons of such noted conductors as Hans Graf, Sir David Willcocks, Jukke Pekk Saraste, Kent Tritle and Daniel Lipton, and at such halls as Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Bordeaux Opera House, Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall. Of her Carnegie appearances in Spring 2011, Opera News acclaimed her Poulenc’s Gloria (Oratorio Society of New York) as managed “with stunning precision and musicality” and, “one of the most memorable performances of the season” and of her Israel in Egypt (Musica Sacra) lauded: “Soprano Leslie Fagan sang effortlessly, with clear shimmering tone”.

? Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano, returns this season to Carnegie Hall with Robert Spano and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in Bach’s Magnificat; sings Debussy’s Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony; and makes her Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of Ji?í B?lohlávek in John Harbison’s Fifth Symphony. She also debuts with Leonard Slatkin and the Lyon Symphony in Mahler’s Second, sings Beethoven’s Ninth with the Houston and Kansas City symphonies, appears in recital with Marilyn Horne’s “The Song Continues” at Zankel Hall, and sings Bernstein and Berlioz with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. A former member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, she was acclaimed for her portrayal of Kitty Oppenheimer in the Met’s premiere of Doctor Atomic, which was also broadcast live in high definition to cinemas around the world.

? Cullen Gandy, tenor, is currently pursuing his master’s degree, in voice, at the Juilliard School. This season at Juilliard he will be performing the role of Edoardo Milfort in Rossini’s Il Cambiale di Matrimonio. During Juilliard’s last season, Cullen performed the roles of Gherardo in Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, as well as Soldato I in Claudio Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (under the baton of Harry Bicket); while concurrently performing ‘Liederabend’ recitals of Hugo Wolf Selected Mörike Lieder and songs by Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka. On the opera stage, Cullen has performed such roles as: Don José in Bizet’s Carmen (Peach State Opera), the title role in Bernstein’s Candide, Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Steve in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, and Nathanael/Franz/Cochinille in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman (In conjunction with Georgia State University Opera Theater and The Harrower Opera Workshop).

? Kevin Deas, bass, marks this season with repeat visits to the National Philharmonic, return engagements with Boston Baroque, Musica Sacra, Oratorio Society of New York, and Princeton Pro Musica, as well as the Requiem by both Fauré and Mozart with the Vermont Symphony and a Dvo?ák program with the Buffalo Philharmonic and North Carolina Symphony. He is perhaps most acclaimed for his signature portrayal of the title role in Porgy and Bess, having sung it with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Baltimore and Montreal symphonies, and at the Ravinia and Saratoga festivals.

Ticket prices range from $25-$128, and are available through Carnegie Hall online (, by phone (CarnegieCharge, 212-247-7800); or in person (Carnegie Hall Box Office, 57th Street & 7th Avenue).

For Press Tickets, please contact Mary Bullard at or (212) 330-7684.

For information, visit Musica Sacra online ( or call (212) 330-7684.


Since its founding in 1964 by conductor Richard Westenburg, the mission of MUSICA SACRA has been to create definitive, professional choral performances of the highest caliber for the widest possible audience. It supports its mission by presenting concerts; recording, commissioning and performing new choral works; and educating audiences, students, and the general public in the appreciation and history of choral music. In addition to its acknowledged affinity for Baroque music, Musica Sacra performs in all genres, from the earliest of Gregorian chant to commissioned works and premieres by such leading contemporary composers as Benjamin Britten, Dave Brubeck, Alessandro Cadario, Robert Convery, David Diamond, Aram Khachaturian, and Ned Rorem.

Upcoming performances in the 2011–12 season include:

Thursday, February 23, 2012, 8pm at Weill Recital Hall: Bach Family Notebook, featuring favorite compositions of J.S Bach and his family members.

Monday, April 23, 2012, 8pm at Weill Recital Hall: Songs and Romances: The Romance of Brahms, Schubert and Schumann, featuring exquisite treasures from the Romantic era’s most iconic composers. Sorel Competition winner Anna Shelest accompanies the choir and is highlighted in Schumann’s Piano Sonata in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 11.

Past Musica Sacra highlights include performances of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, Bach’s St. John Passion, Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel and Arvo Pärt’s Stabat Mater for WNYC’s ‘New Sounds Live’ at the World Financial Center, and Edgard Varèse’s Etude pour Espace with the International Contemporary Ensemble and S? Percussion at the 2010 Lincoln Center Festival.

Musica Sacra has recorded on the RCA, BMG, and Deutsche Grammophon labels, including the first digitally recorded performance of Messiah released in 1982 by RCA and reissued on High Performance, BMG’s audiophile label. In 2012, Musica Sacra will release its first recording since 1993, entitled Messages to Myself, featuring two works commissioned for Musica Sacra and the music of leading contemporary composers such as Daniel Brewbaker and Michael Gilbertson.


One of America’s leading choral conductors, KENT TRITLE is in his fifth season as Music Director of Musica Sacra. 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 in his seventh season as Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York.

In addition, Kent 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,” a weekly hour-long radio program on New York’s Classical 105.9 WQXR and devoted to the vibrant genre of choral music and the breadth of activity in the choral community.. An acclaimed organ virtuoso, he is also the organist of the New York Philharmonic.

Highlights of Kent Tritle’s 2011-2012 season include his first concerts with the Cathedral Choir of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine; world and U.S. premiere performances of works by Czech composer Juraj Filas: the U.S. premiere of his 2002 Requiem dedicated to the victims of terrorism, with the Choir & Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola, and the world premiere of Song of Solomon with the Oratorio Society of New York; participation in the Carnegie Hall 120th anniversary with Music Sacra and the Oratorio Society; the world premiere of Stephen Paulus’s one-act opera The Shoemaker with the forces of the Manhattan School of Music; and a performance of Mozart’s arrangement of Handel’s Messiah with the Oratorio Society of New York.

Kent Tritle founded Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, the acclaimed concert series now entering its 23rd season at New York’s Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. From 1996 to 2004, he was Music Director of the Emmy-nominated Dessoff Choirs, winners of the ASCAP/Chorus America award for adventurous programming of contemporary music.

Kent Tritle has made more than a dozen recordings on the Telarc, AMDG, Epiphany, Gothic, VAI and MSR Classics labels. His most recent CDs with the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola, Ginastera’s The Lamentations of Jeremiah and Schnittke’s Concerto for Choir; and Wondrous Love, music from 1,000 years of sacred repertoire, have been praised by Gramophone, the American Record Guide, and The Choral Journal.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 8:00 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 8:00 PM
Tickets: $25 - $128

Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage)
57th Street at 7th Avenue

George Frideric Handel: Messiah

Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra
Kent Tritle, Music Director and Conductor
Leslie Fagan, Soprano
Sasha Cooke, Mezzo-soprano
Cullen Gandy, Tenor (Carnegie Hall Debut)
Kevin Deas, Bass

Tickets are available through Carnegie Hall:
By Phone: 212-247-7800 CarnegieCharge
In Person: Carnegie Hall Box Office, 57th Street & 7th Avenue

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