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February 2015

NOVUS NY, Trinity Choir and Washington Chorus Perform Ives and Ginastera at Carnegie Hall

Julian Wachner, NOVUS NY, Trinity Choir and Washington ChorusThinking back, I've seen some pretty massive concerts at Carnegie Hall over the years. There was Seiji Ozawa conducting Berlioz' Reqiuem with the BSO barely a month after 9/11/2001. Or James Levine conducting that same orchestra three years later in Mahler's 8th Symphony, requiring a stage extension and the removal of the first six rows of seats. Or last season's operatic performances by the St. Louis Symphony and the Vienna Staatsoper.

But, I hadn't heard anything at Carnegie quite so ambitious as last Saturday's production by Trinity Wall Street, featuring the combined forces of contemporary music orchestra NOVUS NY, the Trinity Choir and Trinity Youth Chorus, the Washington Chorus, and the boys and girls of the Washington National Cathedral Choir, all led by Trinity's Director of Music Julian Wachner. Wachner, who was also the mastermind behind the program featuring rarely performed works by Charles Ives and Alberto Ginastera, seemed completely at ease for someone making their Carnegie Hall debut, cracking jokes and leading the audience in an impromptu hymn singalong.

I first heard Ives' 4th Symphony two years ago by the Detroit Symphony at Carnegie as part of the annual Spring for Music festival. Written in 1924 but not given a complete performance until 1965 (also at Carnegie), the 4th symphony vacillates between wild cacophony and an almost simplistic tonality, quoting popular hymns of the day such as "Watchman" and "Nearer My God to Thee." As in the DSO performance, Wachner placed performers throughout the hall in order to amplify the work's spatial configurations: the chorus in the 1st tier boxes, a chamber orchestra up in the Dress Circle (conducted by Scott Allen Jarrett). From my seat in the center orchestra, the music seemed to be coming from all directions: no 2-track recording does this work justice. 

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Preview: The "Big" Concert with Ives and Ginastera at Carnegie Hall

Trinity Choir Big Concert

You might want to bring earplugs for this one. 

On Saturday night, Trinity Choir director Julian Wachner brings some 300 musicians uptown with him to Carnegie Hall for what is being billed as "The Big Concert", pairing Alberto Ginastera's modern-day Passion setting Turbae ad passionem gregorianam with Charles Ives' monumental Symphony No. 4. Neither of these massive works get performed very much around these parts, mostly due to the massive forces required: two full choirs, two children's choirs, full orchestra and soloists. Fortunately, Wachner has all of these at his disposal: in addition to the Trinity Choir, he leads The Trinity Youth ChorusThe Washington ChorusThe Washington National Cathedral Choir of Boys and Girls, and NOVUS NY
Tickets, which range from $15-$120, can be purchased at the Carnegie box office or online
(Hint: Use the code TWS20847 to get a 50% discount.)

Simon in New York

Simon Rattle(3/3/15): As nice as it was to think about, Rattle has accepted the London Symphony Orchestra's offer to become their next music director, starting in 2017. 

It's almost unbelievable to think about, but speculation has been been slowly building that Simon Rattle, Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, could actually become the next music director of the New York Philharmonic, replacing Alan Gilbert who has already announced his departure at the end of his contract in 2017. Aside from being one of the world's most engaging and dynamic conductors, Rattle's arrival in New York would be a major game changer, completing the balance shift of leading music directors to this side of the Atlantic and establishing New York as the go-to city for classical music in this country (as if it wasn't already.)

Still, there are almost as many reasons why Rattle wouldn't accept the NY Phil job as why he would. Among them:

Reasons Why He Would:

Reasons Why He Wouldn't:

What do you think? Will Rattle embrace the opportunity of putting his stamp on America's oldest orchestra - much as Seidl, Mahler, Toscanini, and Bernstein did before him - or will he balk at the too-numerous obstacles? Share your thoughts below.