Trinity Wall Street Presents NOVUS NY in Carnegie Hall Debut with Epic Rarities by Ginastera & Ives (Feb 21)
Representing “the top of musical life in New York” (New York Times), Trinity Wall Street comes to Carnegie Hall’s main stage on Saturday, February 21, 2015 with what is arguably the venue’s most ambitious program this season. This pairs the seldom-performed mature masterpieces of two of the most important composers of the last century, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear both Turbae ad passionem gregorianam, the monumental magnum opus of Argentina’s Alberto Ginastera, and the Fourth Symphony of pioneering American experimentalist Charles Ives. Both works are unapologetically modern in idiom and pose major challenges in live performance; scored for a cast of hundreds, Ginastera’s Turbae requires forces on so grand a scale as to be all but prohibitive, while the complexity of Ives’s Fourth is infamous. The two are fortunate, then, to be in the hands of musicians who are fully equal to the task. Anchored by Trinity’s resident new-music orchestra, NOVUS NY, making its milestone Carnegie debut, the program draws together the Grammy-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the Trinity Youth Chorus, the Grammy-winning Washington Chorus, and the Washington National Cathedral Choir of Boys and Girls, all under the leadership of Trinity’s galvanizing Director of Music and the Arts, Julian Wachner, also making his first appearance in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. Tickets and additional information are available at www.trinitywallstreet.org/thebigconcert.
Alberto Ginastera and Turbae ad passionem gregorianam
By synthesizing avant-garde techniques with the idioms of his native Argentina, Alberto Ginastera (1916-83) achieved a truly original compositional voice. It was during a creative burst in his final decade, in the latter part of his “Neo-Expressionist” period, that he composed the Turbae ad passionem gregorianam for soloists, chorus, children’s chorus and orchestra, Op. 43 (1974). According to choral titan Robert Page, who conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra and Mendelssohn Club in its 1975 world premiere, Ginastera considered the work to be the finest and most important of his entire output. Nonetheless, scored for massive forces, and being moreover, as Julian Wachner told the Washington Post, “wicked hard [and] gnarly,” Turbae has almost never been revived, and is not available on recording.
This is the music world’s loss. A monumental modern-day Passion setting that takes a full hour to perform, Turbae offers a marriage of old and new, integrating serial techniques with Gregorian chant, the unaccompanied plainsong of the medieval Roman Catholic Church. Like those by Heinrich Schütz and other composers from before the time of Bach, Ginastera’s Passion ends not with the Crucifixion but the Resurrection, on a note of hope. All told, as Wachner explains, Turbae possesses a special energy – “a percussive, challenging, primitive tribalism, all balanced by sublimity” – that Trinity’s Carnegie Hall concert represents an all-too-rare opportunity to hear.
The year 2016 marks the centenary of Ginastera’s birth, which Wachner and Trinity Wall Street aim to celebrate by performing as much of his music as possible and issuing Turbae on disc. While the epic scale of the Argentinean composer’s music may pose practical problems, Trinity has already demonstrated its ability to honor such an anniversary, having succeeded in offering what the New York Times calls “New York’s most substantial commemoration of Britten’s centennial” in 2013.
Charles Ives and the Symphony No. 4
Though subsequently recognized as an important and influential American original who anticipated many of the musical innovations to come, in his own lifetime Charles Ives (1874-1954) was largely ignored, many of his compositions going unperformed for many years. These include the work that he reportedly considered his “holy of holies,” which has since been acknowledged as one of the most definitive expressions of his aesthetic: the Fourth Symphony (1910-c.24), of which composer Bernard Herrmann wrote in 1932, “It is the great American symphony that our critics and conductors have cried out for, and yet the symphony has remained unperformed.” Indeed, the symphony was only posthumously premiered in its entirety by Stokowski and the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 1965, a full four decades after its completion.
Though less massive in scale than Turbae, Ives’s symphony needs almost a hundred musicians for its complex second movement, and is so formidable in its densely layered textures and multiple meters, tempos, and tonalities as to require a second conductor. It also presents challenges for the unsuspecting listener, who must grapple with the dissonance and seeming chaos of Ives’s sound world, in which disparate elements are not so much juxtaposed as superimposed, apparently jostling for space. Where, in Turbae, Ginastera invokes the roots of Catholicism, in the Fourth Symphony Ives explores the origins of Americana, incorporating into reworked fragments of his own earlier works a myriad of evocative quotations from the hymn tunes and popular songs of his New England home.
NOVUS NY, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and The Washington Chorus
The Carnegie Hall concert marks something of a coming of age for NOVUS NY, which was founded by Wachner in 2011, the inaugural year of his Trinity directorship. As the conductor-composer comments, “Taking on Carnegie Hall is a real test for an orchestra, and in its fifth season, NOVUS NY is ready for its big break-out moment.” Since making what the New York Times recognized as a “most auspicious” debut in a program of Elena Ruhr, the contemporary music orchestra has continued to prove itself in a variety of knotty repertoire. During Trinity’s months-long Britten festival, the New York Classical Review found NOVUS NY to be “a perfect fit for the repertoire,” meeting its “every challenge with an impressive combination of discipline and imagination.” After a recent account of Stravinsky’s Threni, which – like Turbae – employs Schoenberg’s twelve-tone language – the initially skeptical New Yorker marveled:
“Julian Wachner, Trinity’s Director of Music and the Arts, brought out the tortured beauty of the piece, leading the unflappable musicians of the Trinity Choir and of NOVUS NY, the church’s in-house contemporary ensemble, with palpable enthusiasm. Doubts dispersed like wafts of incense.”
Just last November, Wachner led the orchestra in Ives’s Third Symphony, and earlier this year they recorded Wachner’s own music, which he likens to Ginastera’s in its “thorniness.” As Edge Media Network found, both NOVUS NY and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street “display a clear appreciation of Wachner’s style as both a composer and their conductor, and create a powerful sound through the polyphonic sections, as well as a soulful interpretation of his softer movements.”
As for the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, it needs little introduction; it was with this choir that Wachner scored his first Grammy nomination for Handel’s Israel in Egypt, and that Trinity’s annual Messiah concerts were proclaimed “revelatory” (New York Times). As The Times of London was moved to exclaim, when the choir made its UK debut last spring, “This is a choir from heaven.”
Wachner serves concurrently as Music Director of the Grammy Award-winning Washington Chorus, and the upcoming performance marks the first time that he will have brought the choir – normally resident at DC’s Kennedy Center – to Carnegie Hall. The Washington Chorus has previously appeared in New York, however, collaborating with Wachner, NOVUS NY, and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street in an epic five-choir concert that concluded Trinity’s week-long tenth-anniversary 9/11 observances, which the New York Times pronounced “a stunning event.”
About Trinity Wall Street
One of the oldest and most vibrant of all Episcopal parishes, Trinity Wall Street is located in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District, where it has created a dynamic home for music; as the New York Times acknowledges, “Trinity’s music is indispensable and unmissable.” Serving as director of Trinity’s Music and the Arts Program – as well as principal conductor of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the period-instrument Trinity Baroque Orchestra, and contemporary-music ensemble-in-residence NOVUS NY – Julian Wachner also oversees all liturgical, professional and community music and arts programming at Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel. The New York Times calls his leadership “inspiring,” while the New Yorker has described Trinity Wall Street as “a mini-Lincoln Center for downtown Manhattan.” The music at Trinity ranges from large-scale oratorios to chamber music, and from intimate a cappella singing to jazz improvisation. Many concerts at Trinity Wall Street are professionally filmed and webcast live at www.trinitywallstreet.org/videos.
Trinity Wall Street presents epic rarities by Ginastera & Ives at Carnegie Hall
Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 8 PM
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage)
The Choir of Trinity Wall Street
The Trinity Youth Chorus
The Washington Chorus
The Washington National Cathedral Choir of Boys and Girls
Julian Wachner, conductor
Charles Ives: Symphony No. 4 (with Scott Allen Jarrett, assistant conductor)
Alberto Ginastera: Turbae ad passionem gregorianam
Tickets are available at $15, $30, $45, $90 & $120, from carnegiehall.org, CarnegieCharge (212) 247-7800, the venue’s box office at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, and www.trinitywallstreet.org/thebigconcert.
This program is presented in by Trinity Wall Street in collaboration with the Argentinean Embassy and local Consulate.
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