Great Music at St. Bart’s Presents – The Apple Hill String Quartet

Sunday, March 13, 2016, at 2:30 pm in the Chapel
THE APPLE HILL STRING QUARTET – Music of Purcell, Glass, Haas

Apple Hill String Quartet (Elise Kruder, Colleen Jennings, violin; Mike Kelley, viola; Rupert Thompson, cello)

apple_hill_string_quartet_2016

The Apple Hill String Quartet performs its sixth annual performance on the Great Music at St. Bart’s series, a program in the intimate St. Bart’s Chapel: an arrangement of Purcell’s Three Fantasias (1680); Philip Glass’s String Quartet #4 “Buczak,” written in 1987 in remembrance of the artist Brian Buczak; and Pavel Haas’s String Quartet No. 2, “From the Monkey Mountains,” Op. 7 – a 1925 work that continues the Czech heritage of Haas’s teachers Dvořák and Janáček and evokes the Moravian highlands of its subtitle, with four movements titled “Landscape,” “Coach, Coachman and Horse,” “The Moon and I,” and “Wild Night.”

Since its founding in 2007 at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Nelson, New Hampshire, the quartet has earned praise around the world for its performances of traditional and new repertoire. Central to the mission of Apple Hill is “Playing for Peace,” an innovative outreach program that focuses on social change and conflict resolution through music. As resident musicians at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, the Quartet is featured in the summer concert series held every Tuesday night at the Center in Nelson, N.H. These concerts attract hundreds of visitors and have become a mainstay of the Monadnock area summer music offerings. Watch the quartet perform a segment from Geoffrey Hudson’s The Quartet Project in a video clip on the St. Bart’s event page.

Click here for full press release on these concerts.

Press Contact:
Jennifer Wada Communications
718-855-7101
jennifer@wadacommunications.com

Great Music at St. Bart’s – Apple Hill String Quartet, March 13, 2016.
Click here to learn more.

Tickets: $25, $15 for Students and Seniors
Tickets may be purchased online at www.mmpaf.org, by phone by calling 212-378-0248, or in person at St. Bart’s in Midtown Manhattan, 325 Park Avenue at 51st Street.

Great Music at St. Bart’s is produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) corporation established to cultivate, promote, sponsor and develop the understanding and love of the performing arts as presented at St. Bartholomew’s Church, a treasured masterpiece of architecture on the east side of Manhattan’s midtown. The corporation sponsors performances of music, dance, drama, and other performing arts as well as the exhibition of works in the film and fine arts genres.

Great Music at St. Bart’s Presents

THIRD SOUND – A NEW ENSEMBLE MAKES ITS U.S. DEBUT WITH A PROGRAM OF NEW AMERICAN & CUBAN MUSIC – January 12
CONCORDIA CHOIR – February 23

Third-Sound-photo-by-Tristan-Cook-1

Third Sound in Havana, photo by Tristan Cook. Click on photo for hi-res.

The U.S. debut of Third Sound, a “supergroup” of young New York musicians, performing new American and Cuban music, and a performance by the renowned Concordia Choir from Moorhead, Minnesota, are the first events of 2016 from Great Music at St. Bart’s, presented by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016, at 7:30 pm in the Chapel

THIRD SOUND – U.S. Debut
Third Sound is a new collective of virtuoso performers drawn from New York City’s finest chamber musicians: Sooyun Kim, flute; Romie de Guise-Langlois, clarinet; Karen Kim, violin; Michael Nicolas, cello; and Orion Weiss, piano; composer Patrick Castillo is the artistic director. Having just made its debut as part of the delegation from the American Composers Forum invited to participate in the Festival de Música Contemporánea (Contemporary Music Festival) in Havana, Cuba, this New York ensemble will present its first performance in the U.S. in the St. Bart’s chapel, an acoustically brilliant space perfectly suited for contemporary chamber music.

“Third Sound is already one of the country’s best contemporary music ensembles,” says composer Michael Harrison, who also took part in the Havana residency. “For their debut concert at the Havana Contemporary Music Festival they selected an incredibly diverse range of ten works by leading American composers. Everything was executed with the kind of passion and precision that one only hears from the most experienced ensembles. Working with Third Sound is a composer’s dream!”

Drawing on its Havana program, which was the first live concert in that festival’s history featuring American performers in a program of exclusively contemporary American music (read about it, and hear selections from the concert, in Anastasia Tsioulcas’s story for NPR Music, “Hear a New Music Journey, from the U.S. to Havana“), Third Sound will perform American works along with music by Cuban composers Wilma Alba Cal, Juan Piñera, and others to be announced, acquired during the ensemble’s Havana visit. All the works on the program were written within the past 15 years, and eight of them will receive their New York or U.S. premiere performances:

CINDY COX Wave for piano trio (first movement) (2009) (New York premiere)
KAI-YOUNG CHAN Mieko for flute and electronics (2014) (New York premiere)
AMADEUS REGUCERA Inexpressible (v. 2) for flute, violin, and cello (2013, rev. 2015) (U.S. premiere)
JUAN PIÑERA Work for clarinet, violin, and piano to be announced (U.S. premiere)
INGRID ARAUCO Fantasy Quartet for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano (2001) (New York premiere)
WILMA ALBA CAL Homenaje a Piazzolla for clarinet and piano (second movement) (U.S. premiere)
CHRISTOPHER WENDELL JONES A Crowd of Twisted Things for violin and piano (2011) (New York premiere)
JEREMY GILL Paean, Epitaph, and DIthyramb for flute, cello, and piano (2008) (New York premiere)
JENNIFER HIGDON Smash for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano (2006)

The program, which will be recorded for commercial release later in 2016, is the first of two American/Cuban programs that Third Sound will present this season, the second to take place in May.

Conceived from a desire to present music as a rich and dynamic continuum, Third Sound brings together an accomplished group of musicians equally skilled in – and equally passionate about – the work of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms as that of composers ranging from Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Messiaen; Carter, Wuorinen, Adams, and Reich; to emerging composers of the early 21st century. The group’s members have appeared on the most prestigious series and stages around the world and garnered major honors, including the Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Georg Solti Foundation Career Grant, and the Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance, among many others.

Learn more:
“Hear a New Music Journey, from the U.S. to Havana,” coverage and concert excerpts, from NPR Music: http://tinyurl.com/qg9nr3t
Third Sound and the ACF delegation to Havana: http://composersforum.org/press/acf-cuba-delegation
Third Sound: Facebook and website
Blog post from composer Kati Agócs about the Havana festival: http://www.katiagocs.com/blog/

Tickets: $35, $15 for Students and Seniors

Tuesday, February 23, 2016, at 7:30 pm, in the Church

THE CONCORDIA CHOIR
The Concordia Choir
René Clausen, conductor

The renowned 72-voice Concordia Choir from Moorhead, Minnesota, makes its only New York City appearance this season with a return visit to St. Bart’s, part of a 16-city U.S. tour. The choir, led by Dr. René Clausen, will perform a diverse program of traditional and contemporary choral works drawing from, or inspired by, hymns, spirituals, and the Lutheran tradition – including works by Dr. Clausen, Stephen Paulus, Jens Klimek, David Dickau, and Bobby McFerrin; Ives, Vaughan Williams, and Copland; and Bach and Mendelssohn.

The Concordia Choir continues to affirm its reputation as one of America’s finest a cappella choirs. Since 1920, the choir has performed in nearly every major hall including Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center as well as on numerous international tours, and has performed many times on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” radio show. Recent activities include a 2010 performance and recording with the Grammy Award-winning King’s Singers and a 2011 tour of South Korea. The Concordia Choir is featured in the Emmy-winning “Concordia Christmas Concerts,” which are nationally broadcast on public television. The choir’s recordings are distributed internationally and through iTunes, and it is one of the top-selling choirs in the country.

Dr. René Clausen is the third conductor in the choir’s history, assuming the role in 1986. As a composer he has written more than 120 commissioned works. The Kansas City Chorale recording Life and Breath: Choral Works by René Clausen won two Grammy awards in 2013.

Learn more:
https://www.concordiacollege.edu/music/ensembles/choirs/the-concordia-choir/

Tickets: $30, $20 for Seniors, $10 for Students

Tickets may be purchased online at www.mmpaf.org, by phone by calling 212-378-0248, or in person at St. Bart’s in Midtown Manhattan, 325 Park Avenue at 51st Street.

Great Music at St. Bart’s is produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) corporation established to cultivate, promote, sponsor and develop the understanding and love of the performing arts as presented at St. Bartholomew’s Church, a treasured masterpiece of architecture on the east side of Manhattan’s midtown. The corporation sponsors performances of music, dance, drama, and other performing arts as well as the exhibition of works in the film and fine arts genres.

Click here for full press release on these concerts.

Press Contact:
Jennifer Wada Communications
718-855-7101
jennifer@wadacommunications.com

A Joyous Christmas Concert Artwork by Steve Ross

Title: Theotokos (Mary and Baby) Medium: Watercolor Artist: Steve Ross

Title: Theotokos (Mary and Baby); Medium: Watercolor; Artist: Steve Ross

Of all the players during Advent, I believe the season really belongs to Mary. She said ‘Yes’ to God, with no guarantee as to how it would pan out, so I wanted to pay tribute to her courage and generosity with this painting. Many artistic interpretations of Mary render her in a submissive and passive role, with eyes downcast or meekly looking at her baby. My interpretation affords Mary much more agency and thus I have her break from demure tradition and engage the viewer boldly and directly. I also have her holding her baby in such a way as to acknowledge that the child is not just hers, but that she is consciously “offering” the child to us, the viewer.

Artist Bio:
Steve Ross is an illustrator and artist living in New York City. His work is in many private collections and his illustrations have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Economist and many other magazines and publications. He is the author of two graphic novels; “Marked” based on the Gospel of Mark, and “Blinded,” based on the adventures of St. Paul of Tarsus. More of his work can be seen at www.StevenTracyRoss.com.

Great Music at St. Bart’s Presents Its Annual Holiday Events

A JOYOUS CHRISTMAS CONCERT – December 15
ADORATION OF THE MAGI – December 18
A CONCERT FOR THE NEW YEAR – December 31 – FREE

st_barts_snowThe December events presented by Great Music at St. Bart’s, the concert series at St. Bartholomew’s Church produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation (MMPAF), are among New Yorkers’ favorite holiday traditions. A Joyous Christmas Concert offers choral, orchestral, and organ music of the season along with a Christmas carol sing-in; Adoration of the Magi is an intimate visual and musical celebration of the holidays in the St. Bart’s Chapel; and A Concert for the New Year, a holiday gift to the city, is a late evening organ concert by William Trafka, Director of Music and Organist of St. Bartholomew’s Church, and post-concert reception, that is free to the public.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.mmpaf.org, by phone by calling 212-378-0248, or in person at St. Bart’s in Midtown Manhattan, 325 Park Avenue at 51st Street.

Click here for full press release on Holiday Events.

Great Music at St. Bart’s: “The Argentinian-Italian Bach,” Domenico Zipoli

Click here to read a news-filled pdf brochure about this concert.

Italian_Argentinian_Bach_Zipoli_flier

The Program

Domenico Zipoli
(1688–1726)
Misa San Ignacio
Kyrie
symbol Gloria

symbol Tantum Ergo

symbol Credo
from Misa San Ignacio

Johann Sebastian Bach
(1685–1750)
symbol Cantata BWV 150 “Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich”
1. Sinfonia
2. Coro: “Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich”
3. Aria (soprano): “Doch bin und bleibe ich vergnugt”
4. Coro: “Leite mich in deiner Wahrheit”
5. Aria (alto, tenor, bass): “Zedern mussen von den Winden
6. Coro: “Meine Augen sehen stets zu dem Herrn”
7. Coro (ciaccona): “Meine Tage in dem Leide”

– Intermission –

Domenico Zipoli

symbol Confitebor Domine
from Vespers San Ignacio

symbol Laudate Dominum
from Vespers San Ignacio

Johann Sebastian Bach
symbol “Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn’ ihn”
Aria BWV 1127 – verses 1, 4, 8, 12

Domenico Zipoli

symbol Beatus Vir
from Vespers San Ignacio

symbolsymbol symbol

The Performers

Vocal soloists

Julianne Baird – Soprano (Zipoli & BWV 1127)
Sarah Moulton Faux – Soprano (BWV 150 & BWV 1127)
Nicholas
Tamagna – Countertenor
Pablo Bustos
– Tenor
John-Arthur Miller
– Baritone

Crescendo Period Instrument Orchestra

Judson Griffin – Violin 1, Concertmaster
Margaret Ziemnicka
– Violin 2
Carlos Boltes
– Viola
David Bakamjian
– Violoncello
Jane Hershey
– Violone
Rachel Begley
– Bassoon & Dulcian
Christa Patton
– Baroque Harp
Rodrigo Tarraza
– Quena 1
Gonzalo Cortes
– Quena 2
Carlos Boltes
– Charango
Scott Hill
– Guitar*
Juan Andres Mesa
– Organ

*Mr. Scott’s performing fee was generously underwritten by Cynthia Walsh.

The Crescendo

Choir Section leaders bolded; Singers with asterisk perform BWV 150

Sopranos: Louise Brown, Kathy Drake*, Sarah Fay*, Susan Fox, Anne Frieze, Carol Goodfriend, Peggy Heck, Jordan Rose Lee*, Sarah Moulton Faux*, Jane Meigs, Sarah Melcher, Margaret O’Brien*, Andrea Patel, Roberta Roll*

Altos: Pat Barton*, Laura Evans*, Susan Francisco, Martha King, Susan McBrien, Karen Miller, Martha Nesbitt, Randy Orzano*, Andrea Patel*, Susan Pettee, Trudy Weaver Miller*

Tenors: Gordon Gustafson, John La Porta*, Eric Martin*, Randy Orzano, Peter Perkins*, Doug Schmolze*, Richard Vreeland II

Basses: James Barrett*, Paul De Angelis, Stephen Enoch, John-Arthur Miller*, Rene Milo, Thomas Schindler*, Bruce Weinstein*, John Wightman, Michael Wise*

Youth Singers: Lucia Cicerchia, Charlotte Clulow, Eleanor Clulow

Christine Gevert, Conductor

Great Music at St. Bart’s: Fall 2015 Events

“THE ARGENTINIAN-ITALIAN BACH,” DOMENICO ZIPOLI – October 15
JOHN ZORN: THE HERMETIC ORGAN – October 30
JASON ROBERTS, ORGANIST, ACCOMPANIES THE WIND – November 20

The firMMPAF_press_release_iconst three events of the 2015-16 season of Great Music at St. Bart’s, the concert series at St. Bartholomew’s Church produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation (MMPAF), include a program focusing on the music of the “Argentinian-Italian Bach,” Domenico Zipoli, and J.S. Bach himself; and two events showcasing the magnificent St. Bart’s organ, the largest pipe organ in New York City: a performance by John Zorn of his own epic work The Hermetic Organ; and a silent film classic starring Lillian Gish, The Wind, screened to the accompaniment of live organ improvisation.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.mmpaf.org, by phone by calling 212-378-0248, or in person at St. Bart’s in Midtown Manhattan, 325 Park Avenue at 51st Street.

Thursday, October15, 2015, at 7:30 pm, in the Church
“THE ARGENTINIAN-ITALIAN BACH,” DOMENICO ZIPOLI

Part of the New York Early Music 2015 Celebration “El Nuevo Mundo”
Julianne Baird and Sarah Moulton Faux, sopranos
Nicholas Tamagna, countertenor
Pablo Bustos, tenor
John-Arthur Miller, baritone
Crescendo Chorus & Youth Singers
Crescendo Period & Andean Instrument Orchestra
Directed by Christine Gevert

Famed early music artist Julianne Baird and rising young singers Sarah Moulton Faux, soprano; Nicholas Tamagna, countertenor; Pablo Bustos, tenor; and John-Arthur Miller, baritone, join Crescendo, the New England-based vocal and instrumental ensemble directed by Christine Gevert, for a program featuring the music of Baroque composer Domenico Zipoli (the Italian-born Jesuit musician and missionary who lived and worked in Paraguay and Argentina) alongside two cantatas of J.S. Bach. “Zipoli’s music is comparable in style and quality to his contemporary Antonio Vivaldi – full of contrasting and dramatic elements,” says Gevert. “In our performance we will combine European Baroque instruments with native Andean ones, such as quenas [flutes] and charango [lute], to create the unique sound of the Latin American Baroque,” as well as combining adult and youth voices in the chorus.

“All pieces, except the Tantum Ergo, were written for soprano, alto, and tenor voices only, as there practically weren’t any low voices among the indigenous people in Latin America (and still today we have many more tenors than basses among Latin American singers),” says Gevert. “My arrangement carefully includes the choral bass voice into the choral texture – sometimes in a quite high range for their voices, to preserve the character of Zipoli’s writing and the sound quality of what must have been heard back then in the missions.”

Domenico Zipoli was a successful organist and composer in Rome before his departure to Argentina in 1717. Zipoli became the most famous Baroque composer in South America – his works were performed all over the continent and his reputation spread from there to Europe. The music he wrote in South America was lost for more than 200 years, surfacing in the late 1970s – this program presents some of these works, including parts of Misa San Ignacio and Vespers San Ignacio. The program also features two sacred cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach. His choral cantata Nach Dir, Herr, verlanget mich (For Thee, O Lord, I long), BWV 150, is an early one, and the abundance of short contrasting choral movements makes it similar to Zipoli’s works. The soprano solo cantata Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn’ ihn (Everything with God and nothing without him), BWV 1127, was lost for almost 300 years, only re-discovered in 2005.

Crescendo received the Alfred Nash Patterson Award given by Choral Arts New England for this program, presented in New England in November of 2014. Crescendo’s repertoire focuses mainly on music from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, but encompasses all musical eras. Chorus America’s 2014 Alice Parker/ASCAP award winner for innovative programming, Crescendo is led by Artistic Director and conductor Christine Gevert, whose exploration of her Latin American heritage has led to concerts of rarely heard Colonial Latin American music, as well as contemporary works by Latin American composers.

http://worldclassmusic.org/crescendo/

WATCH: Crescendo performs the Credo from Zipoli’s Misa San Ignacio on YouTube.

D. ZIPOLI
Misa San Ignacio (excerpts)
Vespers San Ignacio (excerpts)
Tantum Ergo

J.S. BACH
Nacht Dir, Herr, verlanget mich, BWV 150
Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn’ ihn, BWV 1127

Tickets: $40 Preferred Seating; $30 General Seating; $10 for Students

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Friday, October 30, 2015, at 11:59 pm, in the Church
JOHN ZORN: THE HERMETIC ORGAN

Presented in tandem with National Sawdust’s John Zorn Festival
John Zorn, organ

Modern music icon John Zorn performs his epic solo organ improvisation The Hermetic Organ on the largest pipe organ in New York City, the magnificent Aeolian-Skinner at St. Bart’s. Zorn released a recording of the 2012 performance in St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University, which Lou Reed praised as one of “culmination and conquest,” on his own Tzadik Records.

From that album’s notes: “Although organ was Zorn’s first instrument (he often credits Lon Chaney in the silent classic Phantom of the Opera as a primal influence), in 2011 Zorn surprised even his hardcore fans by initiating a new series of solo organ concerts in churches around the world. Premiering at the historic Christ Church in Philadelphia, the word on these concerts spread like wildfire and further events were set up in Belgium, France and of course in New York. … the music is breathtakingly beautiful, and distinguished by a spiritual mood that only a huge pipe organ can create. A perfect outlet for Zorn’s dramatic sense of color and contrast, we hear the composer’s mind at work in all its bizarre permutations – huge blocks of sound, chords, clusters, counterpoint, drones, ostinatos, lyrical melodies and more – often all at the same time!” www.tzadik.com

“The one word virtually everyone can agree on in any discussion of the work of composer John Zorn is ‘prolific,’ in the strictest sense of the definition,” says Thom Jurek in allmusic.com. “Though he didn’t begin making records until 1980, the recordings under his own name number well over 100, and the sheer number of works he has performed on, composed, or produced easily doubles that number. Though now an internationally renowned musician and the founder and owner of the wildly successful and equally prolific Tzadik imprint, Zorn is a cornerstone of New York’s fabled and influential downtown scene. In addition, he has played with musicians of every stripe. He is … a quintessential mirror of 21st century culture.”

WATCH: John Zorn’s talks about his approach to The Hermetic Organ on YouTube.
WATCH: A video about the St. Bart’s organ on Vimeo.

Tickets: $35, $25, $15 for Students and Seniors

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Friday, November 20, 2015, at 7:30 pm, in the Church
JASON ROBERTS ACCOMPANIES THE WIND

Jason Roberts, organ

St. Bart’s Associate Director of Music and Organist Jason Roberts improvises organ accompaniment to one of the last great silent films, the romantic drama The Wind. This 1928 cinematic masterpiece by director Victor Sjöström stars the great Lillian Gish, who was an active member of St. Bart’s and who is interred in the church’s memorial chapel.

The Wind was the last silent film headlined by Lillian Gish, one of the silent screen’s greatest stars. Based on a novel by Dorothy Scarborough, it tells the story of a young Virginia woman who moves west to Texas and is almost driven mad by physical hardship, spiritual repression, and a howling wind.

Last season, Jason Roberts improvised the organ accompaniment for Steamboat Bill, Jr., at St. Bart’s. A sought-after recitalist, Jason was chosen to play at last summer’s Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Hartford, CT. An avid improviser, he won first prize at the AGO National Competition in Organ Improvisation in 2008, and was a finalist in improvisation at the St. Alban’s International Organ Competition in 2011.

WATCH: A video about the St. Bart’s organ on Vimeo.

Tickets: $20, $10 for Students and Seniors

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Tickets may be purchased online at www.mmpaf.org, by phone by calling 212-378-0248, or in person at St. Bart’s in Midtown Manhattan, 325 Park Avenue at 51st Street. Great Music at St. Bart’s is produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) corporation established to cultivate, promote, sponsor and develop the understanding and love of the performing arts as presented at St. Bartholomew’s Church, a treasured masterpiece of architecture on the east side of Manhattan’s midtown. The corporation sponsors performances of music, dance, drama, and other performing arts as well as the exhibition of works in the film and fine arts genres.

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MMPAF’s 2015-2016 Season Announced

MMPAF’s exciting 2015-2016 Season has been announced! Please enjoy an abridged version of our press release (below). Or delve into the full press release by clicking here.

MMPAF_press_release_iconGREAT MUSIC AT ST. BART’S LAUNCHES ITS 2015-16 SEASON WITH AN EXPANDED CONCERT SERIES: 10 MAIN EVENTS FROM SOUTH AMERICAN BAROQUE TO CONTEMPORARY CUBAN, FROM BACH TO ANDY AKIHO, AND JOHN ZORN’S THE HERMETIC ORGAN, SHOWCASE TWO OUTSTANDING CONCERT SPACES

Great Music at St. Bart’s, the concert series produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation (MMPAF) which for the past five years has presented music in the magnificent St. Bartholomew’s Church in midtown Manhattan, is expanding its offerings and focusing its programmatic range in the 2015-16 season.

The season’s 10 main events include a program of Italian/South American Baroque composer Domenico Zipoli and Bach cantatas; a midnight concert of John Zorn performing his famous The Hermetic Organ on the celebrated St. Bart’s organ, the largest in New York (presented in tandem with National Sawdust’s John Zorn Festival); the New York debut of the chamber “supergroup” Third Sound featuring new American and Cuban music; and a program mixing music by the young composer Andy Akiho with Baroque masterpieces performed by the early music group The Sebastians. These concerts join such returning series events as the beloved annual Joyous Christmas Concert and Concert for the New Year and silent film screenings with live organ improvisation. (The full season schedule is below.)

To grow and define the concert series, MMPAF’s Artistic Director William Trafka aimed both to embrace a wider range of music and to showcase the church’s concert spaces, two of the most outstanding in New York: the 150-seat chapel, an intimate and acoustically brilliant space that is perfectly suited for contemporary chamber music, and the majestic 1,000-seat sanctuary, an architectural marvel – outfitted with comfortable chairs enabling flexible seating – whose Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ is the largest in New York City.

”The Board of MMPAF is fortunate to have welcomed Patrick Castillo as a member,” said William Trafka. “As the former program director of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and an exceptional composer, he brings valuable expertise in programming and knowledge of the most currents trends in contemporary music. St. Bart’s will now be one of the few sacred spaces in New York hosting performances of new music, elevating these compelling works to a new level by embracing them in spaces of architectural distinction and beauty.”

All regular tickets to Great Music at St. Bart’s are priced between $20 and $40, with discounted tickets for students and seniors available for all events. Admission to the Concert for the New Year is free.

Rounding out the St. Bart’s musical offerings is a free component: the ongoing Midtown Concerts, a series of free weekly early music programs that run from September through June.

William Trafka has been the Director of Music and Organist of St. Bartholomew’s Church since 1995. Prior to that, he served as St. Bartholomew’s Associate Organist for 10 years. He leads the St. Bartholomew’s Choir and St. Bart’s Singers and is the Artistic Director of the Mid-Manhattan performing Arts Foundation, overseeing the programming of Great Music at St. Bart’s. He also programs and conducts St. Bartholomew’s annual Summer Festival of Sacred Music.

At St. Bart’s, he has conducted the premieres of several works including David Conte’s September Sun and Missa Brevis, James MacMillan’s Since it was the day of preparation (New York premiere), and Herbert Howells’ Hymnus Paradisi (New York premiere of the orchestral version) as well as works by Eriks Esenvalds and Neely Bruce. As an organist, he has performed on concert series throughout the U.S. and Germany and has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, the American Symphony Orchestra, and the Fairfield Academy of Period Instruments. He has also served on the faculty of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, as Adjunct Professor of Sacred Music.

Great Music at St. Bart’s is produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) corporation established to cultivate, promote, sponsor and develop the understanding and love of the performing arts as presented at St. Bartholomew’s Church, a treasured masterpiece of architecture on the east side of Manhattan’s midtown, The corporation sponsors performances of music, dance, drama, and other performing arts as well as the exhibition of works in the film and fine arts genres.

Founded in January 1835, St. Bartholomew’s began its life as part of the Evangelical movement in the Episcopal Church. Its present building, a Byzantine style structure with an iconic dome, designed by Bertram Goodhue and completed in 1918, has had a vital presence in New York for close to a century. St. Bartholomew’s also became a force in the musical life of the city and the wider church: Legendary musicians such as Leopold Stokowski, who went on to a career as one of the world’s great conductors, Harold Friedell and James Litton have served the church as Organist and Choirmaster. For many decades, a world famous weekly series of Evensongs featuring performances of the great oratorios by St. Bartholomew’s Choir was offered free of charge, stressing the parish’s commitment to inclusion by ministering to a wide community. Great Music at St. Bart’s, an outgrowth of these Evensongs, still offers the greater New York City community top shelf concert performances at very reasonable ticket prices.

Tickets will be available through the Box Office at St. Bartholomew’s Church, 325 Park Avenue, New York, NY, and will be available by phone, 212-378-0248, and online at , by October 1.

New York Classical Review: Austere and Timeless, MacMillan Premiere Proves Compelling at St. Bart’s

Article on New York Classical Review

James MacMillan’s “Since it Was the Day of Preparation …” received its New York premiere as an MMPAF concert event was reviewed on the website New York Classical Review.  The article is reprinted below, or click here to view it on the NYCR website.
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Austere and Timeless, MacMillan Premiere Proves Compelling at St. Bart’s

By George Grella
May 05, 2014 at 1:05 pm
macmillan_XXL (1)
New liturgical works like James MacMillan’s “Since it Was the Day of Preparation …”, which had its New York premiere Sunday afternoon at St. Bart’s Church, are important reminders of both the foundations of the Western classical tradition and how what amounts to two handfuls of notes continues to be an enduring source of invention for thousands of years.
MacMillan’s piece was commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria, an organization dedicated to funding the composition of sacred “choral-orchestral” work from leading contemporary composers (this is the third MacMillan piece they have contributed to). The Scottish composer sets the Gospel of John from a point after Christ’s death to the Resurrection and Christ’s three appearances. At about eighty minutes in duration, it uses the compact forces of a small chorus—whose members double as solo narrators, the disciples, and Mary Magdalene—and a quintet with the unusual instrumentation of clarinet, horn, cello, harp and theorbo.
This is a well made, involving composition, given a performance, conducted by William K. Trafka, that matched the quality of the music: refined, assured, controlled and focused, with the sensation of indescribable expressive intensity and depth just contained under the surface of the notes. The music sounds familiar, in that it is clear and easy to follow, and yet also new. There are unexpected details and an inventive use of traditional ideas that surprise and construct a rigorous internal logic.
One thing that is so refreshing about “Since it Was the Day of Preparation …”, and MacMillan’s work in general, is how his sensibility goes against the grain of contemporary Western thinking about sacred music. He is the foremost composer within the Catholic liturgical tradition (though not confined to that). He does not indulge in easy comfort and blandishments, he expresses both the difficulty and solace of faith, and while he works in tonal harmony, he challenges listeners as often as he soothes them. 
His writing is immediately captivating. The piece starts, unusually enough, with a theorbo solo (played elegantly by David Walker), but rather than make a neo-Renaissance pastiche, MacMillan creates a compelling mix of melodic phrases, harmonics, and dense, strummed chords, and traverses the instrument’s range. The effect is stimulating and grounding, hinting at the contemporary context for the work while setting it deep within the classical tradition.
After the theorbo, the first voice heard was the clear tenor of Christopher Carter, picking up the Gospel at the first sentence after, in the composer’s words, “Jesus gives up his spirit”—thus the title of the piece. The narrative switches between other singers, all of whom sang with an affecting clarity of tone and expression: bass James Whitfield, sopranos Amanda Sidebottom and Martha Sullivan, altos Eliza Bagg and Elizabeth Merrill, and tenor Christopher Ellman.
Structurally, there are solo interludes for each instrument throughout the piece, and three sections where the quintet plays as a whole and accompanies the voices. The interludes alternate with the mostly a cappella sections.
The music also alternates stylistically between austere vocals and the sensual instrumental music—particularly a dazzling clarinet solo played by Benjamin Fingland, the kind of expressive writing that has one envisioning the composer’s hand moving freely across the expanse of the blank page. In contrast, the vocal lines are disciplined and ordered by the requirements of the words.
MacMillan uses the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition of the Bible. He sets the text with a sophisticated sense of harmony, mixing together modes and triads, allowing the voices to wander expressively around a central pitch while also using dissonance to produce acute moments of tension and deeply satisfying release—all in a single line.
Another simple and powerful device MacMillan uses is to have the chorus members play hand-bells in free rhythm whenever Christ, the dignified, subtle bass-baritone Jeff Morrissey, sings. The sonic color is gorgeous, and the bells connect the music to the rituals of the Catholic Mass. The balance between the ringing metal of the bells (and the brightness of the instruments) and the woody purity of the voices works subliminally as an intellectual and spiritual argument for the sacrifices of glories of Christ and those who follow him.
There is a single moment in the piece that encapsulates the musical means, the meaning, and the sheer pleasure of the music’s sound: as Whitfield finished singing about Jesus’ burial, the quintet entered under his last syllable, first sustained on G then lowered to F. The voice and instruments came together on a ninth-chord that, in the cavernous space (unfortunately only half full), rang, briefly but intensely, with a bracing brilliance. It felt like the illumination of the sun after a long period of darkness, just as painful to the eyes, just as warm to the body.
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MMPAF’s New Partnership: Japan Society

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MMPAF, located at the crossroads of America’s most vibrant metropolis, is pleased to announce its partnership with the Japan Society.Founded in 1907, Japan Society (333 East 47th Street NY, NY) is the leading U.S. organization committed to deepening mutual understanding between the United States and Japan in a global context. Now in its second century, the Society serves audiences across the United States and abroad through innovative programs in arts and culture, public policy, business, language and education. Japan Society serves as a catalyst for the intellectual and cultural exchange that nurtures and sustains a healthy and productive relationship between the United States and Japan. Its Performing Arts Program is the leading showcase in the United States for contemporary and traditional Japanese dance, music and theater.

Since the inception of the Performing Arts Program in 1953, Japan Society has introduced more than 600 performing arts programs from Japan to an extensive American audience. In addition to its annual season of five to ten full-evening programs, ranging from the traditional arts of noh, kyogen, bunraku, and kabuki, to cutting-edge theater, dance and music, plus educational workshops, lectures and demonstrations, the Society has also been a pioneer in presenting works that are products of collaborations between Japanese and American/international artists. The Society presents established and emerging performers whose artistry strongly communicates an expression of Japanese tradition, art forms, or style. The Society also commissions new works to non-Japanese artists, produces national tours, organizes residency programs for American and Japanese artists and develops and presents educational programs.

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MMPAF’s New Partnership: Kadmus Arts

Announcement

partner_KadmusArts2MMPAF is pleased to announce its partnership with Kadmus Arts. Where festivals, artists, fans meet.

KadmusArts.com is a site for the festival community: the organizers, the sponsors, the artists, and most importantly, the audiences. From our small studio in the Green Mountain State (Vermont) of the United States, we created the site to help artists, audiences, cultural travelers and festival colleagues find each other — all over the world. Through word-of-mouth and the participation of festivals, artists, and audiences, KadmusArts.com is now the web’s most popular portal to every kind of dance, music, and theatre festival throughout the world. This site’s goal is to make festivals more accessible and to promote the meeting of cultures, performances, and artists. As you can see on the site, everything is open — and free. Festival goers of the world unite!