Two Great Concerts Coming Up at St. Bart’s


  • “Portals To the Divine: Radiance From the North,” Choral Music from Scandinavia and the Baltic States in the St. Bart’s Sanctuary – Tuesday, March 20, 2018
  • Dorian Wind Quintet Performs Jazz – Gershwin, Schuller, and Schifrin in the St. Bart’s Chapel – Tuesday, April 17, 2018

St. Bartholomew’s Choir (photo by Tim Martin)

Dorian Wind Quintet

Romantic and recent choral music from Scandinavia and the Baltic States performed by the St. Bartholomew’s Choir in the grand St. Bart’s sanctuary, and the Dorian Wind Quintet playing jazz compositions in the intimacy of the St. Bart’s Chapel – these are upcoming spring events presented by Great Music at St. Bart’s (more information below).

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

Great Music at St. Bart’s continues the programmatic focus initiated by MMPAF Artistic Director William K. Trafka (Director of Music and Organist of St. Bart’s): to embrace a wide range of music in programs that shine in St. Bart’s spaces. The concert series, produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation (, for the past seven years has presented music in St. Bartholomew’s Church, a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of New York located in the heart of midtown Manhattan. The magnificent 1918 Romanesque-style church, a National Historic Landmark, features a portal designed by Stanford White and a grand Byzantine-style interior – and two of New York’s unlikely but outstanding concert spaces. The 150-seat chapel is an intimate and acoustically brilliant space perfectly suited for contemporary chamber music, and the majestic 1,000-seat sanctuary – outfitted with comfortable chairs enabling flexible seating – boasts an Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ that is the largest in New York City and one of the finest examples of the American Classic Organ in the U.S.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at 7:30 pm in the Church
St. Bartholomew’s Choir
William K. Trafka, conductor
Romantic and contemporary choral works by composers from both Scandinavian countries and the Baltic States offer a testament of faith and a glimpse into a transcendent world: the Requiem of Icelandic composer Jón Leifs (1899-1968), Psalm 67 and Only in Sleep of Latvian Eriks Ešenvalds (b. 1977), Ubi caritas by Norwegian Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978) and Biegga luohte by Swedish Jan Sandström (b. 1964), as well as music of Norwegian Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), all performed by the St. Bartholomew’s Choir led by St. Bart’s Music Director William Trafka in the grand Romanesque architecture of the St. Bart’s sanctuary.

Jón Leifs’ Requiem was composed in memory of his young daughter, who perished in a swimming accident. Jan Sandström’s Biegga luohte was inspired by a Scandinavian Yoik, an improvised chant originating in the Sami culture, the indigenous people of Scandinavia, who inhabit the northern portions of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Biegga is a call to the wind, conveying a sense of the divine.

“Much of this music, although unfamiliar to American audiences, is deeply affecting and expresses a dimension of experience which is mystical and divine, transcending the ordinary,” says William Trafka. “One can’t help but to consider that the extraordinary Northern European landscape, much of it arctic, with the beauty of its solitude and wealth of natural wonders including the fjords, forests and the extraordinary Aurora Borealis, might have served as a source of inspiration for these composers.”

This concert has been made possible by a generous gift from Robin Henry.
Tickets: $35 general admission; $25 students and seniors

Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at 7:00 pm in the Chapel
The Dorian Wind Quintet – Gretchen Pusch, flute; Gerard Reuter, oboe; Benjamin Fingland, clarinet; Adrian Morejon, bassoon; Karl Kramer-Johansen, horn – is known worldwide as one of chamber music’s pre-eminent and longest continuously-active ensembles. At St. Bart’s, the quintet will perform a program of jazz works including Gershwin’s Three Preludes, Gunther Schuller’s Blues, Billy Childs’s Fugue in Perpetual Motion, and Lalo Schifrin’s La Nouvelle Orleans.

The Quintet has traveled around the world – concertizing in 48 of the 50 United States and Canada, touring Europe eighteen times, and playing throughout the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia. The Dorian made history in 1981, as the first wind quintet to appear at Carnegie Hall. The quintet has been responsible for 40 commissions of 20th and 21st century wind music from major composers such as Luciano Berio, Lukas Foss, and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Their commission of George Perle’s Wind Quintet No. 4 won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1986. The Dorian Quintet partners with the Pro Musicis foundation, expanding and restructuring its outreach efforts in New York City – bringing chamber music of the highest quality to residents of assisted living facilities, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, schools, community centers, and retirement communities. Its goals are to provide access for audiences that are prevented from attending regular concert venues, spread joy and inspiration to people in difficult situations, and for the Quintet to continue enriching its beloved New York City community.

Tickets: $25 general admission; $15 students and seniors

The final event of the 2017-2018 season presented by Great Music at St. Bart’s is the acclaimed pianist Marilyn Nonken and cellist Stephen Marotto performing Morton Feldman’s 1981 Patterns in a Chromatic Field, one of the composer’s most intricate chamber works (Sunday, May 13, 2018), in the St. Bart’s Chapel.

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

Welcome to Our 2016 – 2017 Season

The new season for 2016-2017 has just been announced, and we’ve got quite an exciting line up as well as a new, updated look for the website.   To explore the concerts and events, click here.

To read the press release for this season, click here.

MMPAF’s New Partnership: Japan Society


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.

Want to Know More? Click Here!

Go to our Facebook Page

Bach Tour 2012: Follow J.S. Bach’s Footsteps Through Germany

Bach Tour  Date  |  October 23 – 31, 2012

Follow J.S. Bach’s Footsteps through Germany

bach_sunglassesDid you know that Bach spent a month in jail during his tenure as Court Organist and Concertmaster to the Duke of Weimar. Turns out that, in 1717, Bach was offered and accepted a new position as Kappelmeister at the court of Cöthen. Bach appealed to the Duke for his release from the Weimar position, however the Duke refused and threw him in jail instead of allowing him to leave. Bach, of course, used this time productively and composed the “Orgelbüchlein,” a cycle of organ chorale preludes for the entire church year. The Duke finally came to his senses and Bach was allowed to take on his new position.

Join William Trafka, St. Bart’s Director of Music and Organist and the Artistic Director of MMPAF, as he leads a tour of the towns and cities where Bach thrived as a performer and composer. Hear the great organ works of Bach in the very buildings for which they were composed. Marvel at the charming towns such as Eisenach, Arnstadt and Mühlhausen in the luscious Thüringen region of Germany. Join, Co-Tour Director and German scholar, William Fulton as he brings puts these historic places into perspective with 18th century German culture. Discover the rich and varied life of one of history’s greatest composers as you walk in The Footsteps of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Photo Album |  Bach Tour
Photo Credits: Tim Martin

Conducting Bach in a 21st Century Urban Environment: A Case for Retreat


It was the end of March and the Great Music series concert featuring Bach’s Magnificat and Easter Oratorio was just a few weeks down the road. My hope and dream for this concert was to capture the spirit and eloquence of this extraordinary music in a way that honors its historic importance but also resonates for the modern listener. But, I was concerned how I would properly prepare myself to conduct these works from a different era in a busy, noisy, distracting and at times overwhelming environment.

My first thought was that music never occurs in a vacuum; to try to remove oneself from the present in order to represent art from an earlier time is folly and essentially impossible. The first steps toward an historically informed performance had already been taken by inviting singers and instrumentalists who know, love and understand this style to participate in the performance. Also, the instruments to be used were copies of Baroque instruments which play at A=415 hz., exactly one-half step lower than A=440hz, the pitch used by modern orchestras.

I decided that I needed solitude and quiet to study and to open up myself to the musical possibilities of these two masterpieces. Through a friend, for three days I was given permission to use the choir room at St. Peter’s Methodist Church in Ocean City, NJ, a bustling summer resort on the Jersey shore but a very quiet place during early April. It was there that I discovered the wealth of musical imagery and nuance that Bach used in these works and how each movement becomes a separate painting in an art gallery depicting rich landscapes. I worked hard to hear individual lines and how they might be sung or played in a way to be clearly heard and shaped but fitting into the entire canvas. Most of all, I rediscovered the indisputable genius of Bach with his lucid sense of structure, unparalleled musical invention and heartfelt expressivity. I came away with a deeper sense of his great role in the history of Western civilization.

Did my stay by the ocean in this peaceful place affect the actual outcome of the performance? It certainly opened my mind and heart to the infinite ways of interpreting what Bach has written and allowed me time and focus to explore its many possibilities. I wouldn’t have spent those three days in any other way.