Trinity Wall Street at River To River Festival 2012: Sounds From Indonesia, Italy and NY’s Own Nico Muhly

This summer, Trinity Wall Street will once again participate in the River To River Festival®, lower Manhattan’s free annual summer arts festival, which this year takes place from June 17 – July 15. Trinity will present three events, bringing a breadth of programming – ranging from choral sounds from Indonesia and evocations of ancient Italy to the music of New York’s own rising downtown star Nico Muhly – that illustrates why both church and festival have grown close to New York’s heart.

The Trinity series, which forms part of the River To River Festival, begins on June 24 at Trinity’s St. Paul’s Chapel with a performance by the Manado State University Choir, which hails from the province of North Sulawesi in Indonesia. A mixed-voice chamber choir of about 24 singers, the group has been acclaimed for its beautiful sound, its ability to move audiences and its versatility, performing repertoire ranging from early to contemporary Western music, from traditional Indonesian music with choreography to popular music, jazz and Southeast Asian choral music. The choir performs under the direction of André de Quadros, who is a conductor, ethnomusicologist, human rights activist and Professor of Music at Boston University.

Trinity’s next two festival events both include partnerships with contemporary performing arts group Beth Morrison Projects, following their successful collaboration (New Music Now) at last year’s River To River festival.

On June 25, Trinity’s contemporary music orchestra, NOVUS NY, whose May 2011 debut concert was called “a most auspicious introduction” by the New York Times, lines up alongside the Washington Chorus and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus to give the New York premiere of the fully completed score of New York composer Paola Prestini’s “folk opera,” Oceanic Verses, produced by Beth Morrison Projects at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University. This multimedia opera, with film by Ali Hossaini and libretto by Donna DiNovelli, uses archaic Italian dialects and field recordings to summon up the spirit of an Italy now long overgrown by the modern world. The piece explores the universal themes of migration – the choices people make when they decide to leave their homelands – and the world’s accumulated layers of civilizations, each in turn built upon the ruins of the last. Prestini’s music is published by Tzadik, John Zorn’s iconic record label, and her work has been hailed by leading composer Osvaldo Golijov, who declared: “Paola Prestini’s music is wrenching and tender and luminous and pure and exuberant: always vivid and always generous. Her compositional voice sings of today, but also of an ancient, primordial time, a time of revelations and prophecies.”

Trinity’s series at River To River Festival closes on July 1 with an atmospheric candlelight performance by the Trinity Choir and Trinity Youth Chorus at St. Paul’s Chapel that showcases the music of one of the world’s fastest-rising composers, New Yorker Nico Muhly. Muhly has been described by Gramophone as “one of the most talked-about musicians of his generation” and by the Washington Post as “the reigning It Boy of New York’s downtown music scene.” The event juxtaposes Muhly’s choral writing with music by the English Renaissance choral composers who have influenced him, such as John Taverner, John Sheppard and William Byrd. The centerpiece of the concert will be the world premiere of Muhly’s A Pentecost Anthem, commissioned by Trinity Wall Street, Beth Morrison Projects and River to River. The piece revisits Muhly’s fascination with complex English Renaissance choral music; it is an interest first seen in his 2004 piece, So To Speak, which was inspired by a Pentecost anthem by Thomas Tallis. Alex Ross of the New Yorker described that work as “achiev[ing] a cool balance between ancient and modern modes, between the life of the mind and the noise of the street.”

Earlier in the summer, before participating in River To River, Trinity Choir performs contemporary works in a May 31 concert at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. The concert will feature Israeli-American cellist Matt Haimovitz and the music of Laura Elise Schwendinger, Du Yun and Luna Pearl Woolf, including Woolf’s highly regarded Après Moi, le Déluge. The work, recorded by Haimovitz on disc, has been called “the first major work of classical music to commemorate the flooding of New Orleans” (Arts Journal), and the New York Times praised it as “an unsentimental but moving tribute.”


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