Musica Sacra, New York's Elite Professional Chorus, Announces 2021-22 Season

Season features three concerts with orchestra, each of which spotlights a facet of the group's identity.

By: Sep. 17, 2021
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Musica Sacra, New York's Elite Professional Chorus, Announces 2021-22 Season

Musica Sacra, New York's elite professional chorus, returns to the concert stage in 2021-22 led by Kent Tritle - in his 15th season as Music Director - with a season of three concerts with orchestra, each of which spotlights a facet of the group's identity.

The season begins on October 26 with a nod to the group's celebrated history performing Bach, a program of music by members of the Bach family. Musica Sacra's annual presentation of Handel's Messiah, one of New York's most acclaimed interpretations, follows with a performance of the entire Christmas portion of the work along with highlights from Parts II and III on December 21 at Carnegie Hall. And the group's engagement with new and recent repertoire continues with a concert featuring the world premiere of a commissioned work by Wang Jie, the Te Deum of Arvo Pärt, and Viktor Kalabis's Canticum canticorum (marking the Czech composer's centennial), along with Brahms's motet Schaffe in mir, Gott, on March 22.

New York's longest continually-performing professional chorus, Musica Sacra has a unique history of collaborative performances in a wide range of repertoire with some of the city's most prominent organizations, including the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and the Lincoln Center and Mostly Mozart festivals - more than any other such group. In the 2021-22 season, Musica Sacra joins the American Modern Ensemble for performances of the New York premiere of Robert Paterson's Graffiti Canons as well as motets by Palestrina on November 5, the Orchestra of St. Luke's and its principal conductor Bernard Labadie in a program of Mozart's Requiem and Haydn's Te Deum on November 19, and the New York City Ballet's annual spring performances of the Balanchine classic ballet set to Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, May 21-29. (See program details below.)

"When I first arrived in New York City, it was a performance of Bach's Mass in B Minor by Musica Sacra at Lincoln Center that threw me into a love affair with this choral literature - little did I know that years later I would have the privilege of leading this storied chorus," said Kent Tritle. "I am proud of how over these past 15 years we have continued the legacy of balancing traditional repertoire with exciting new works for the choral medium."

Musica Sacra Educational Outreach

Musica Sacra maintains a long-term partnership with the Newark Boys Chorus School through which the chorus of 4th- through 8th-graders receive workshops with Musica Sacra Assistant Music Director Michael Sheetz and Musica Sacra singers, and perform pre-concert recitals at Musica Sacra's concerts at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Musica Sacra partnered with the Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts in Harlem to offer monthly virtual singing workshops.

In addition, each year Michael Sheetz, aided by Musica Sacra singers, works with students in Title 1 schools across New York City, giving workshops focusing on musical features of Handel's Messiah; the students are given tickets to the annual performance of the work at Carnegie Hall to hear the classroom concepts applied in a live performance.

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: profound statements made simply and elegantly. It does so with concerts, recording, the commissioning and performing of new choral works, and collaborating with other top tier performing arts organizations.

Musica Sacra is known for its interpretations of the masterpieces of choral music - Tallis's Spem in Alium, the choral oeuvre of J. S. Bach, the masses of Mozart and Haydn, the Requiems of Mozart, Brahms, and Fauré, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Strauss's Deutsche Motette, Bruckner's motets, and Schönberg's Friede auf Erden, among others - and its involvement in contemporary repertoire; the group has given the world and New York premieres of choral works by composers including Benjamin Britten, Dave Brubeck, Anthony Davis, Aaron Copland, David Diamond, Aram Khachaturian, Duncan Patton, Vincent Persichetti, Daniel Pinkham, Bernard Rands, and Peter Schickele.

Musica Sacra first commissioned a new work in 1982, when Alan Hovhaness's Revelations of St. Paul was composed for and premiered by the group at Lincoln Center. Subsequent commissions include McNeil Robinson's Missa Brevis, and two works that are based upon biblical texts for which there is little or no music available for use by church and synagogue choirs: The Death of Moses by Ned Rorem and Richard Danielpour's Prologue and Prayer. Other commissions include works by Alessandro Cadario, Robert Convery, Michael Gilbertson, Ricky Ian Gordon, Libby Larsen, Meredith Monk, Robert Moran, and Kim D. Sherman.

Recent highlights of Musica Sacra's singular history of collaborations with other ensembles and organizations include the New York Philharmonic's live score performances of Amadeus, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and 2001: A Space Odyssey (which the chorus also performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra); the New York City Ballet's performances of Les Noces and A Midsummer Night's Dream; the Requiems of Brahms and Mozart and Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Orchestra of St. Luke's; Così fan tutte at the Mostly Mozart Festival; the New York City Opera Renaissance production of Tosca.

Musica Sacra has recorded on the RCA, BMG, MSR Classics 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. Recent releases include Messages to Myself, the first Musica Sacra recording led by Kent Tritle, a disc of contemporary works including commissions by Drew Brewbaker and Michael Gilbertson; and Eternal Reflections, recent choral compositions by Robert Paterson.

Kent Tritle has been Music Director of Musica Sacra since 2008. One of America's leading choral conductors, 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 the Oratorio Society of New York. In addition, Kent is Director of Choral Activities and a member of the organ faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and is a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School, serving its Vocal Arts Department. An acclaimed organ virtuoso, he is also the organist of the New York Philharmonic.


Tuesday, October 26, 2021, at 7:30 pm

Cathedral of St. John the Divine


Kent Tritle, conductor

Michael Sheetz, conductor

Nola Richardson, soprano

Helen Karloski, mezzo-soprano

James Reese, tenor

Peter Stewart, baritone

Sato Moughalian, flute

Musica Sacra Orchestra

J. S. Bach Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor

J. S. Bach Cantata 78, Jesu, der du meine Seele

JOHANN MICHAEL BACH Halt, was du hast

JOHANN CHRISTOPH BACH Fürchte dich nicht

Friday, November 5, 2021, at 7:30 pm

The Actors' Chapel, NYC



Musica Sacra

Kent Tritle, conductor

Program to include these works performed by Musica Sacra conducted by Kent Tritle:

Robert Paterson Graffiti Canons for choir (New York premiere)


Surge, illuminare, Jerusalem

Sicut Cervus

Exsultate Deo

Friday, November 19, 2021, at 7:30 pm

Cathedral of St. John the Divine


Bernard Labadie, conductor

Lauren Snouffer, soprano

Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano

Andrew Haji, tenor

Michael Sumuel, bass-baritone

Musica Sacra

Kent Tritle, Music Director

W. A. MOZART Requiem (Robert Levin completion)

FRANZ Joseph Haydn Te Deum in C

Tuesday, December 21, 2021, at 7:30 pm

Carnegie Hall


Kent Tritle, conductor

Brittany Renee, soprano

Heather Petrie, contralto

John Riesen, tenor

Enrico Lagasca, bass-baritone

Musica Sacra Orchestra

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL Messiah Part I (complete) with highlights from Parts II & III

Tuesday, March 22, 2022, at 7:30 pm

Cathedral of St. John the Divine


Kent Tritle, conductor

Nicole Joy Mitchell, contralto

John Riesen, tenor

Musica Sacra Orchestra

VIKTOR KALABIS Canticum Canticorum


Wang Jie New work (World premiere)

JOHANNES BRAHMS Schaffe in mir, Gott, Op. 29, No. 2

May 21-29, 2022

David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center



Musica Sacra

Kent Tritle, Music Director

A Midsummer Night's Dream - Ballet by George Balanchine to music by Felix Mendelssohn

Three-concert subscriptions and tickets are available at

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