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WAR REQUIEM, THE BLIZZARD VOICES and More Set for Oratorio Society of New York's 140th Season


The New York premiere of a poignant oratorio about a frontier tragedy and Britten's equally unsettling War Requiem frame the Oratorio Society of New York's 2012/13 concert season at Carnegie Hall. Kent Tritle will lead the 200-voice chorus, New York City's second-oldest cultural organization, in its 140th season. Also this season, the Oratorio Society will perform Handel's beloved Messiah, as it has every year since 1874. Rounding the season is the 37th annual Lyndon Woodside Oratorio-Solo Competition, the only competition to focus exclusively on oratorio singing.

AMERICAN VOICES, MONDAY, NOV 5 : The Oratorio Society of New York will open its 140th season with an all-American program. Kent Tritle will conduct the New York premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec's 2008 oratorio The Blizzard Voices. The libretto draws extensively from former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's the book, The Blizzard Voices depicting a January 1888 storm-known as "the Children's Blizzard-that hit the Great Plains with such swiftness and ferocity that many schoolchildren died trying to find their way home. Moravec's music gives voice to the victims and to the survivors.

"This is my first concert completely of American music that we've been able to perform in my tenure at the OSNY," says Tritle. "I have a personal connection to The Blizzard Voices: my uncle's uncle was caught in the blizzard and lost a friend, so I've heard stories about it since boyhood."

The other "American Voices" presented in the concert will be Aaron Copland's Old American Songs and works by Charles Ives, including General Booth Enters into Heaven, under the baton of OSNY Assistant Conductor David Rosenmeyer. Soloists are sopranos Susanna Phillips and Maeve Höglund, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Feinstein (2012 Oratorio-Solo Competition prize winner), tenor Aaron Blake, baritone Jonathan Estabrooks (2011 Oratorio-Solo Competition First Place winner), and bass Kevin Deas.

MESSIAH, MONDAY, DEC 17: The season will continue on December 17 with one of New York's most enduring and popular holiday traditions, the OSNY's performance of Handel's Messiah. Tritle will lead the chorus, orchestra, and soloists-soprano Nacole Palmer (2012 Oratorio-Solo Competition prize winner), mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn, tenor Matthew Garrett, and baritone Philip Cutlip. (Garrett and Cutlip are both former Competition winners.)

BRITTEN'S WAR REQUIEM, MONDAY, APR 22: The OSNY's concert season at Carnegie Hall will close on April 22, with a performance of the monumental War Requiem by Benjamin Britten. Written for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1962-the original Gothic cathedral had been destroyed during World War II-the work is scored for full and chamber orchestras, organ, full and chamber choruses, children's choir, and three soloists. The libretto is an intermingling of the traditional Latin requiem liturgy and the brutally honest poetry of Wilfred Owens, who fought and died in World War I. Soloists are soprano Emalie Savoy, tenor John Matthew Myers, and baritone Jesse Blumberg and the Children of the Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine.

According to Tritle, "it has been an ambition of mine to conduct the War Requiem since I first sang it in 1981. I have performed it many times as children's conductor or organist with conductors like Rostropovich and Mazur, but I've never led it. I'm overjoyed that I now have my chance to conduct this exquisite antiwar testament during the Society's 140th anniversary."

TICKETS: All three concerts will take place at 8:00 p.m. on the Perelman Stage of Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall. Subscriptions are $153–$40 and are available at Single tickets may be purchased six weeks prior to each concert online at, at the Carnegie Hall box office or through CarnegieCharge at 212–247–7800.

The LYNDON WOODSIDE ORATORIO-SOLO COMPETITION : In addition to its concert performances, the Oratorio Society of New York has presented the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio-Solo Competition since 1977. The competition, the only one of its kind devoted exclusively to the art of oratorio singing, begins in late March and draws more than 100 applicants from around the world. This season's finals will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Tickets are $20 general admission and can be purchased through Carnegie Hall.

ABOUT THE ORATORIO SOCIETY OF NEW YORK: The Oratorio Society of New York, the second oldest cultural organization in New York City, has been part the metropolitan area's musical life since 1873. On its 100th anniversary it wasreceived the Handel Medallion, New York City's highest cultural in recognition of these contributions. Its 1982 European debut marked the beginning of its acclaimed overseas concerts on four continents, most recently in Brazil. In 2003, it received the UNESCO Commemorative Medal and the Cocos Island World Natural Heritage Site Award.

ABOUT KENT TRITLE: One of New York's foremost choral conductors, Kent Tritle has been the Oratorio Society's Music Director since the 2003/04 season. He is also Music Director of Musica Sacra and is in his second year as Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. He is Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music, a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School, and founder of Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, the acclaimed concert series at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. Tritle is an enthusiastic proponent of choral singing, hosting "The Choral Mix," a WQXR program that explores the choral scene in New York City and beyond. An acclaimed organ virtuoso, Tritle is the organist of the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra.

Photo copyright 2009 Tim Dwight.


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