Brahms and Berlin

Lunchtime Special


During the day, I work in downtown Manhattan, which is not exactly a place seething with culture, music or otherwise. Fortunately, Trinity Church offers a brief refuge from the rat race with its Concerts at One series of free hour-long concerts, most of which feature choirs or chamber groups. 

When I arrived about 10 minutes late to yesterday's concert, the church was filled with the sound of an organ playing slow. But, one look at the stage revealed this wasn't some standard midday mediation. Sitting on the altar amidst a mess of wires and foot pedals were a pair of young musicians, one with a shaved head an a mohawk dyed black, the other looking a bit like Jesus with his full beard and longish hair.

The duo, itsnotyouitsme, is violinist Caleb Burhans and guitarist Grey McMurray, whom I've seen several times previously. Their music is quiet and delicate, conveying a full sweep of emotion without ever falling into cheap sentiment. It's like the soundtrack to a movie that has yet to be made, the kind of music that make you think long and hard about your life. Which, of course, is just the thing one should be doing at church.

For Caleb, this show was also something of a homecoming: in addition to his hyperactive career as a performer and composer, his steady job for the past six years has been as a countertenor in the Trinity Choir, singing every Sunday and holiday. It might be a stretch, but seeing him up there tapping pedals and sawing his bow, he reminded me of a couple of other former choristers who eventually would hear their music performed where they once sang: Haydn and Schubert.  

Though their albums are released on New Amsterdam, I have hard time trying to figure out where to place these guys: Post Rock mimimalism? Indie electronica? New music ensemble? How about: All/None of the above? Whatever they are, props to Trinity for inviting them in on a cold, cloudy Thursday. (More pics below.)DSC03844 

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