Kent Tritle Announces 2018-19 Season
Kent Tritle is Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the largest cathedral in the world; Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York, the acclaimed 200-voice volunteer chorus; and Music Director of Musica Sacra, New York's longest continuously performing professional chorus. The 2018-19 season of "New York's choral conducting superstar" (Time Out New York) is marked by the expansion of the Oratorio Society's Carnegie Hall season from three to four concerts, which will include Kullervo, the rarely-performed symphonic poem by Sibelius, Szymanowski's Stabat Mater, and Verdi's Requiem.
In addition to performing programs spanning the choral repertoire, including its acclaimed annual presentation of Handel's Messiah, Musica Sacra participates in live score performances of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the New York Philharmonic (a repeat collaboration) and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. And concerts by the Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine on the Cathedral's Great Music in a Great Space series feature the choir's continued collaboration with early/world music ensemble Rose of the Compass, this year a program marking the centennial of the WWI Armistice and Armenian independence.
Among the singers featured on Tritle's programs this season are some of the conductor's favorite soloists, including sopranos Susanna Phillips, Kathryn Lewek, and Leslie Fagan, countertenor Daniel Moody, tenor Brian Giebler, baritones Jesse Blumberg, John Brancy, and Takaoki Onishi, and basses Joseph Beutel and Adam Lau; and recent returning collaborators soprano Elizabeth de Trejo, mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis and tenor Joshua Blue. Soloists with whom Kent will be working with for the first time are soprano Johanna Rusanen-Kartano (in Sibelius'sKullervo), mezzo-soprano Ewa Plonka (in Szymanowski's Stabat Mater), and tenor Isaiah Bell (OSNY's Messiah).
As part of his season as Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music, Kent shares a choral program with Associate Director Ronnie Oliver and two of the program's graduate conductors in the school's newly-renovated Neidorff-Karpati Hall.
Also an organ virtuoso - called "a superb organist" by The New York Times - and the organist of the New York Philharmonic, Kent continues his season's run of performances of Saint-Saëns's "Organ" Symphony with the Philharmonic at this summer's Bravo! Vail festival, and performs recitals in the U.S. and abroad this season, including two in Germany in July, at Munich's Erlöserkirche and Kyllburg's Himmerod Abbey.
A full chronological schedule of the season's events follows below.
Great Music in a Great Space with the Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine
The Great Music in a Great Space series features the acclaimed Cathedral Choir, both showcased and featured:
· "Armenia 1918/2018: Armistice & Independence - A Centennial Celebration" with the Cathedral Choir and Rose of the Compass - A program celebrating the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day and Armenian independence, specifically honoring those who were killed in the Armenian genocide, a direct result of WWI, with a tribute of traditional and sacred music to the Armenian cleric and composer Gomidas. This is the eighth collaboration between the Cathedral Choir and the early/world music ensemble Rose of the Compass. The cathedral invites ticket holders to participate in a pre-concert tour of areas of the Cathedral constructed during World War I and its aftermath. (Monday, November 5, 2018)
· A Cathedral Christmas Concert - The annual Christmas concert this year features the combined Cathedral Choirs, orchestra, and soloists for a program highlighted by Gabrieli's In ecclesiis and O Magnum Mysterium, Daniel Pinkham's Christmas Cantata, and Christmas carols sung by all. (Saturday, December 8, 2017)
· New Year's Eve Concert for Peace - Founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984, this annual Cathedral event this year features William Boyce's Symphony No. 1; Robert Convery's I Have a Dream, a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Mozart's Symphony No. 29. Featured soloists are soprano Jamet Pittman and baritone Malcolm Merriweather, and returning are special guests Judy Collins, Paul Winter, andJason Robert Brown, and host Harry Smith. (Monday, December 31, 2018)
· French Masters: Fauré and Poulenc - The Cathedral Choir and Orchestra highlight two French masters with Fauré's much beloved Requiem, paired with Poulenc's mystical and deeply spiritual Litanies à la Vierge noire and Quatre petites prières de saint Françoise d'Assise. (Tuesday, April 9, 2019)
Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall
The 146th season of the Oratorio Society of New York, the city's standard for grand choral performance, is Kent Tritle's 14th as its music director. The 2018-19 season sees the expansion of the OSNY's Carnegie Hall season from three concerts to four:
· A program marking the centennial year of both the WWI Armistice and of Polish independence features the centerpiece of Szymanowski's Stabat Mater, in which the composer marries the liturgical text with Polish folk rhythms and melodies, complemented with Gorecki's Euntes Ibant et Flebant ("They who go forth and weep") for unaccompanied chorus, and the oratorio Dona nobis pacem of Vaughan Williams that combines Latin text with poetry of Walt Whitman. Susanna Phillips, soprano; Ewa Plonka, mezzo-soprano; and Jesse Blumberg, baritone, are the program's soloists. (Sunday, November 11, 2018)
· Handel's Messiah - The OSNY's 145th annual performance of Messiah, a beloved New York tradition, this year features soloists Kathryn Lewek, soprano; Daniel Moody, countertenor; Isaiah Bell, tenor; and Joseph Beutel, bass. (Wednesday, December 29, 2018)
· Sibelius's Kullervo, the grand symphonic work for soprano and baritone soloists, male chorus, and orchestra, based on a tale from the epic Finnish poem Kalevala, is the highlight of this program that also features two works for women's chorus and orchestra: "Sirènes" from Debussy's Nocturnes and Berlioz's La mort d'Ophelie in the composer's choral arrangement. The Manhattan School of Music Men's Symphonic Chorus joins the men of the OSNY for the Sibelius work, whose soloists are Finnish soprano Johanna Rusanen-Kartano and baritoneTakaoki Onishi. (Monday, February 25, 2019)
· Verdi's Requiem concludes the OSNY's season in a performance featuring soloists Elizabeth de Trejo, soprano; Raehann Bryce-Davis, mezzo-soprano; Joshua Blue, tenor; and Adam Lau, bass. (Thursday, May 9, 2019)
The 2018-19 season of the acclaimed professional chorus is Kent Tritle's 12th as its music director. In addition to presenting its annual three-concert series, Musica Sacra has in recent years also been featured with such major New York institutions as the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, and Orchestra of St. Luke's - in May of this year, the group participated in performances of the ballet set to Stravinsky's Les Nocesas part of the New York City Ballet's (Jerome) Robbins 100 festival. The coming season continues this activity with performances with the NYP and its first with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
· 2001: A Space Odyssey - Musica Sacra is featured in screenings of the Stanley Kubrick masterpiece with live performances of the score - namely, in Ligeti's Requiem and Lux Aeterna - with the New York Philharmonic (September 14 & 15, 2018) led by André de Ridder at David Geffen Hall (Musica Sacra first performed this with the NYP and Alan Gilbert in the orchestra's live score presentation in 2013) and with theDetroit Symphony Orchestra (September 21, 2018) led by Robert Ziegler at a free performance opening the University Musical Society season at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
· Bach, Buxtehude, and Scarlatti - The season-opening program celebrates Musica Sacra signature repertoire with Baroque choral masterworks: Bach's Motet, BWV 225 "Singet dem herrn ein neues Lied" and Scarlatti's Stabat Mater conducted by Kent, and Buxtehude'sCantata Domino and Scarlatti's Te Deum conducted by Musica Sacra Assistant Music Director Michael Sheetz. (Tuesday, October 23, 2018, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine)
· Handel's Messiah - Musica Sacra's acclaimed rendition of Messiah, in which the orchestra uses period bows, is a New York holiday tradition. This year's soloists are Leslie Fagan, soprano; Daniel Moody, countertenor; Brian Giebler, tenor; and John Brancy, baritone (who this spring won one of the top prizes at the 2018 Lotte Lenya Competition). (Monday, December 17, 2018, at Carnegie Hall)
· Byrd, Whitacre, Tavener, Paulus - This program in the lead-in to the Easter season is highlighted by Byrd's Mass for Five Voices, between whose movements are interposed Gregorian chant, and also features late 20th- and early 21st-century music by Eric Whitacre (i thank You God), John Tavener (The Lamb), and Stephen Paulus (Pilgrims' Hymn). (Tuesday, March 5, 2019, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine)
Manhattan School of Music
As Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music, Kent supervises the conservatory's choral ensembles - Chamber Choir, Women's Chorus, and Symphonic Chorus - along with Dr. Ronnie Oliver, Associate Director of Choral Activities. With MSM currently offering the pre-eminent program for choral conductors in New York City, graduate students currently number two in the doctoral program and two in the master's program. In recent years, Kent has prepared the ensembles for performances with and at major New York institutions, which have included the New York Philharmonic (Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé led by Vladimir Jurowski and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony led by Alan Gilbert) and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and headlined performances of David Lang's Little Match Girl Passion and Tan Dun's Water Passion after St. Matthew at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This season finds the choruses at MSM in lineup with visiting conductors as the school celebrates its centennial. Performance repertoire includes Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Mass in C, and Choral Fantasy, and Vaughan Williams's Serenade to Music. Conductors for which Kent will prepare the chorus include Leonard Slatkin and Jane Glover.
· Kent leads off a program by the Manhattan School of Music Women's Chorus also conducted by Ronnie Oliver and MSM graduate conductors, by leading Brahms's Vier Gesänge; also on the program are Holst's Hymns from the Rig Veda, Stephen Paulus's The Earth Sings, and Persichetti's Winter Cantata. It takes place in the MSM's newly-renovated Neidorff-Karpati Hall. (Wednesday, February 27, 2019)
In February 2018, Kent, the organist of the New York Philharmonic, was featured as the soloist in three performances of Saint-Saëns's "Organ" Symphony with the Philharmonic led by Antonio Pappano at David Geffen Hall. Three months later, for the Philharmonic's annual Free Memorial Day Concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, he was featured in the same work, this time led by David Robertson, and this time playing the work on the cathedral's Great Organ.
He performs the Saint-Saëns work with the Philharmonic and Robertson again at this summer's Bravo! Vail festival. In the 2018-19 season, in addition to joining the Philharmonic for performances of Handel's Messiah, Brahms's Requiem, and Mozart's Requiem, Kent plays organ recitals including two in Germany this summer, and one in Spencer, Iowa, a town neighboring his home town of Spirit Lake.
· Saint-Saëns's "Organ Symphony" with the New York Philharmonic led by David Robertson at the Bravo! Vail festival (Sunday, July 22, 2018)
· Erlöserkirche, Munich, Germany (Wednesday, July 25, 2018)
· Himmerod Abbey, Grosslittgen, Germany (Sunday, July 29, 2018)
· Grace United Methodist Church, Spencer, IA (Sunday, August 5, 2018)
Amherst Early Music Festival Choral Institute 2018
This summer, Kent leads his fourth week-long choral workshop at the Amherst Early Music Festival, the largest early music festival in the U.S., this year focusing on Machaut's Messe de Nostre Dame, Motets for Five Voices of Lassus, and Charpentier's Le Reniement de St. Pierre. The workshop concludes with a performance. (July 8-15, 2018, at Connecticut College, New London, CT)
Residency at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, in 2019
Kent conducts a residency next spring at the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Potsdam that culminates in a concert in which he leads Hindemith's Apparebit Repentina Dies and Mozart's Mass in C Minor. (Saturday, May 4, 2019)
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 Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City; Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York, the acclaimed 200-voice avocational chorus; and Music Director of Musica Sacra, the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York City. 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. An acclaimed organ virtuoso, he is also the organist of the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra.
Kent Tritle's discography of more than 20 recordings on the Telarc, AMDG, Epiphany, Gothic, VAI and MSR Classics labels includes the 2016 performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8, David Briggs's organ-choral version, which received a rave review in The American Organist, and Eternal Reflections: Choral Music of Robert Paterson with Musica Sacra, about which Gramophone said, "As shaped by Music Director Kent Tritle, the myriad hues, lyricism and nobility in Paterson's music emerge in all their splendour." Other releases, including his 2013 recording of Juraj Filas' Requiem, Oratio Spei dedicated to the victims of 9/11, with the Prague Symphony Orchestra and the Kühn Choir; Messages to Myself, an acclaimed recording with Musica Sacra of five new works; and two releases with the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola, Cool of the Day - an a cappella program of music ranging from Gregorian chant, Palestrina, and spirituals to Strauss's Deutsche Motette - and Ginastera's The Lamentations of Jeremiah with Schnittke's Concerto for Choir, have been praised by Gramophone, American Record Guide, and The Choral Journal.
Kent Tritle founded the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space concert series at New York's Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, and led it to great acclaim from 1989 to 2011. From 1996 to 2004, he was Music Director of New York's The Dessoff Choirs. Kent hosted "The Choral Mix with Kent Tritle" on New York's WQXR, a weekly program devoted to the vibrant world of choral music, from 2010 to 2014.