Great Music at St. Bart’s Presents Apple Hill String Quartet Performing the World Premiere of Harbison’s “Presences” in the St. Bart Chapel on Sunday, March 5, 2017, at 2:30 PM

Composer Patrick Castillo Talks With John Harbison at 1:30 PM

Apple Hill String Quartet

The Great Music at St. Bart’s concert series presents New Hampshire’s Apple Hill String Quartet (Elise Kuder, Colleen Jennings, violin; Mike Kelley, viola; Rupert Thompson, cello) in the Chapel of St. Bartholomew’s Church – a beautiful, intimate space perfectly suited to contemporary chamber music – on Sunday, March 5, 2017, at 2:30 pm. The quartet will perform the world premiere of John Harbison’s Presences for string quartet, cello, and bass; Ahmed Saygun’s String Quartet No. 1 (which is featured on the ensemble’s latest recording); and Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 54, No. 2, in C Major. Joining Apple Hill for the Harbison work are Tony Rymer, cello; and Max Zeugner, bass.

This is the Apple Hill String Quartet’s seventh annual appearance on the St. Bart’s series. Last March, the ensemble offered a performance of Pavel Haas’s String Quartet No. 2, “From the Monkey Mountains,” that The Strad magazine called “extraordinary.”

Patrick Castillo, composer and board member of the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation, which produces Great Music at St. Bart’s, will interview John Harbison in a pre- concert talk in the Chapel at 1:30 pm. Harbison’s new work Presences was commissioned in memory of David Anderson, a young student cellist who studied at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Nelson, New Hampshire, the quartet’s home.

Since its founding in 2007 the Apple Hill String 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. Founded in 1971 and situated on 100 acres of fields and woodlands in rural New Hampshire, Apple Hill is a center of chamber music performance and teaching. It is stewarded today by the organization’s director, Leonard Matczynski, and ensemble-in- residence, the Apple Hill String Quartet.

Learn more:
Violinist Elise Kuder’s note on performing Ahmed Saygun’s String Quartet No. 1:

The 2016-17 season of Great Music at St. Bart’s continues the new programmatic focus initiated last year by MMPAF Artistic Director William K. Trafka (Director of Music and Organist of St. Bart’s): to embrace a wider range of music in programs that shine in St. Bart’s spaces. The spring 2017 season also features programs of chamber music in the Chapel that showcase modern and new repertoire, including acclaimed ensemble ECCO East Coast Chamber Orchestra (A Thousand Cranes by Christopher Theofanidis, NY premiere, April 20). Among the programs presented in the magnificent sanctuary are two vastly different interpretations of the St. John Passion: Bach’s, performed by The English Concert Players and the Choir of New College, Oxford, conducted by Robert Quinney (March 28) and Arvo Pärt’s, performed by Trafka leading the St. Bartholomew’s Choir (April 4) and Orff’s Carmina Burana performed by the Dalton Chorale (May 17).

Great Music at St. Bart’s, the concert series produced by the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation, for the past six 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 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, an intimate and acoustically brilliant space that is perfectly suited for contemporary chamber music, and the majestic 1,000-seat sanctuary – outfitted with comfortable chairs enabling flexible seating – whose Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ is the largest in New York City and one of the finest examples of the American Classic Organ in the U.S.

Sunday, March 5, 2017, at 2:30 pm
Tony Rymer, cello
Max Zeugner, bass
HARBISON Presences (World premiere)
SAYGUN String Quartet No. 1
HAYDN String Quartet, Op. 54, No. 2, in C

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

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


NYTimes Music Review: “The Angels in the Heavens Sing for Themselves”



The Angels in the Heavens Sing for Themselves

Haydn’s Oratorio ‘Die Schöpfung’ at St. Bartholomew’s Church

Truth be told, the “Representation of Chaos” that opens Haydn’s 1798 oratorio “Die Schöpfung” (“The Creation”), sounds oddly decorous to modern ears. Granted, it begins with a short burst of brassy dissonance, and altered versions of that gesture return during the slow, dark-hued overture that pours forth before the angel Raphael’s serene narration of the familiar scene from Genesis: the formlessness of the earth, the darkness on the face of the waters. And when a second angel, Uriel, announces the creation of light, Haydn provides a magnificent explosion of C major orchestral timbre.

Yet the salient musical features of this depiction are graceful melody and tonal harmony. To experience it as the primordial chaos Haydn intended, you need to imagine hearing it with 18th-century ears.

The Japanese early-music specialist Masaaki Suzuki offered technical support, in the form of a period-instrument account, for listeners inclined to make that imaginative leap — and a beautifully shaped performance for those who simply wanted to hear Haydn’s richly painterly score — on Monday evening at St. Bartholomew’s Church. His forces were the Yale Schola Cantorum, a superb chorus, and an orchestra of 41 players drawn largely from the Yale Baroque Ensemble and Juilliard415, the student ensemble of the Juilliard School’s historical performance program.