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Oratorio Society of New York to Open Season with Mozart 'Great' Mass at Carnegie Hall

The Oratorio Society of New York fulfills its role as New York's champion of the grand choral tradition with the opening program of its 2016-17 season: Mozart's "Great" Mass in C Minor, written to celebrate the composer's marriage, and Bruckner's Te Deum, a gem of a 19th-century choral masterwork that Bruckner called "the pride of my life."

Kent Tritle, commencing his 12th season as OSNY Music Director, leads the concert at Carnegie Hall (the Oratorio Society's home since 1891) on Thursday, November 3, 2016, at 8:00 pm. Mr. Tritle has selected four soloists who, in his words, "are wonderfully capable Mozart singers, but who also bring the warmth and the quality we want in the romantic work of Bruckner": Jennifer Zetlan, soprano; Helen Karloski, mezzo-soprano; ALex Richardson, tenor; and Philip Cutlip, baritone.

Since its founding in 1873, the OSNY, New York's 200-voice avocational chorus, has become the city's standard for grand choral performance - having performed world, U.S., and New York premieres of works as diverse as Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem (1877), Berlioz' Roméo et Juliette (1882), a full-concert production of Wagner's Parsifal at the Metropolitan Opera House (1886) - and Britten's The World of the Spirit (1998), Juraj Filas' Song of Solomon (2012), and Paul Moravec's Blizzard Voices (2013). On its 100th anniversary the Oratorio Society received the Handel Medallion, New York City's highest cultural award, in recognition of these contributions.

From Mozart's "Great" Mass in C Minor to Bruckner's C Major Te Deum

The OSNY's 2016-17 season is flanked by two great masses in a minor key: Mozart's "Great" Mass in C Minor in the fall, and Bach's Mass in B Minor in the spring. This first concert further transverses the key of C, from Mozart's C Minor Mass to Bruckner's C Major Te Deum.

Mozart promised to write a mass upon his marriage to Constanze Weber, but he never finished it, leaving what has been called the "torso" of a mass. "Mozart has captured the essence of the Classical era," says Kent Tritle, "and at only 50 minutes, it can be performed in conjunction with another work, opening up many possibilities." For this pairing, Mr. Tritle chose Bruckner, who wrote choral music in an intimate style, in contrast to his vast symphonies. Bruckner called his Te Deum the "pride of my life," having written it after a period of great turmoil while living in Vienna. Says Tritle, "This is a very satisfying piece of music that is not performed often enough."

OSNY at Carnegie Hall in 2016-17

The Oratorio Society's Carnegie Hall season continues on December 21, 2016, with its annual performance of Handel's Messiah (an OSNY Christmas tradition since 1874); this year's soloists are Kathryn Lewek, Jakub Józef Orli?ski, William Ferguson, and Adam Lau. And to close the OSNY's Carnegie Hall season, Kent Tritle will lead the ensemble in one of the supreme works for chorus and orchestra, Bach's Mass in B Minor, with soloists Leslie Fagan, Christopher Ainsley, Lawrence Jones, and Sidney Outlaw on May 8, 2017.

Britten's War Requiem - April 6 & 7, 2017, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The third OSNY collaboration with the Manhattan School of Music at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine will be Britten's massive and haunting War Requiem. For the past two years, Kent Tritle, who serves as Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral and Director of Choral Activities at MSM, has led collaborative performances by the three groups in events that re-envision the giant choral concerts of the 19th and early 20th century. The first was Verdi's Requiem in 2015, followed by Mahler's Symphony No. 8 earlier this year.

The April 6 & 7, 2017, performances of War Requiem will feature soloists Susanna Phillips, John Matthew Myers, and Matthew Worth joining the OSNY, the Manhattan School of Music Symphony and Symphonic Chorus, and the Cathedral Choristers of St. John the Divine.

Lyndon Woodside Oratorio-Solo Competition - Finals, April 8, 2017

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the OSNY's annual Lyndon Woodside Oratorio-Solo Competition, which remains the only major competition to focus exclusively on oratorio singing. Countertenor Jakub Józef Orli?ski, who is a featured soloist in this year's Messiah performance, was the 2016 first prize winner. "Through the Competition we've been able to shine a bright spotlight on this repertoire and encourage singers, who would otherwise just prepare for opera, to consider the richness of oratorio music," says Mr. Tritle. The April 8, 2017, final round at Weill Recital Hall is a public event.

Kent Tritle is 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 and Music Director of Musica Sacra, the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York. In addition, Tritle is Director of Choral Activities and Chair of the Organ Department at the Manhattan School of Music, and a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School. An acclaimed organ virtuoso, Tritle is also the organist of the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra.

Soprano Jennifer Zetlan continues to garner recognition for her artistry and captivating stage presence. She has debuted on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera and Florida Grand Opera. This season, she continues her Broadway tenure in Fiddler on the Roof at the Broadway Theater. She also makes her debut with the Staatstheater Stuttgart in Purcell's The Fairy Queen and creates the title role in the world premiere of Jane Eyre by Louis Karchin with Center for Contemporary Opera. On the concert stage, she performs Kaija Saariaho's Lonh with the New York Philharmonic at the Park Avenue Armory.

Mezzo-soprano Helen Karloski, the OSNY's 2015 Woodside Competition winner, performs regularly with several New York ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, Voices of Ascension, Musica Sacra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, New York Virtuoso Singers, and the Mostly Mozart Festival. Nationally she has sung with Conspirare, Handel and Haydn Society, and Santa Fe Desert Chorale, about whose performance of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, the Santa Fe New Mexican said, "[Helen Karloski's] voice is beautifully suited for oratorio, and the sincerity of her delivery, along with her poised bearing and physical presentation, forged an almost palpable connection with the audience."

Tenor ALex Richardson began last season at the Metropolitan Opera as Alwa (cover) in Lulu, the title role of Werther with Boston Lyric Opera, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Orlando Philharmonic, and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis at Carnegie Hall with The Cecilia Chorus, and he closed out the season in the title role of Peter Grimes with The Princeton Festival. In 2016-17 he returns to the Metropolitan Opera as the Shepherd in Tristan und Isolde with Simon Rattle and Asher Fisch conducting, and later in the season performs in Salome.

Baritone Philip Cutlip has received consistent critical acclaim for his performances across North America and Europe. Established on both concert and opera stages, he has performed with a distinguished list of conductors that includes Nicholas McGegan, Yves Abel, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Gerard Schwarz, and Donald Runnicles. His appearance as Joseph De Rocher in Heggie's Dead Man Walking with Joyce DiDonato and Frederica von Stade for Houston Grand Opera has been released on Virgin Records. Philip Cutlip's management page


144th Season

Kent Tritle, Music Director

Thursday, November 3, 2016, at 8:00 pm

Carnegie Hall


Kent Tritle, conductor

Jennifer Zetlan, soprano

Helen Karloski, mezzo-soprano

ALex Richardson, tenor

Philip Cutlip, baritone

Orchestra of the Society

MOZART "Great" Mass in C Minor


Tickets: $90-$25; also available as part of a subscription

At the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 57th St. and 7th Ave.

By phone at CarnegieCharge, 212-247-7800, or online at

For more information, visit

Pictured: Kent Tritle leading the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall (photo by Tim Dwight)

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