The Trinity Choir is the premier ensemble of the music and arts program at Trinity Wall Street. The Choir leads the liturgical music during Sunday services, performs in concerts throughout the year, and has made world-class recordings for the esteemed Naxos label. It is both a beloved church choir, singing favorite Anglican hymns and historic sacred music, and one of New York City’s most acclaimed professional vocal ensembles.
Particularly well-versed in major compositions of the Baroque and Classical periods, the Choir’s repertoire also includes Swedish and Estonian choral compositions as well as works by Benjamin Britten, Johannes Brahms, Herbert Howells, Arvo Pärt, and other contemporary composers. The New York Times has praised the Choir as possessing “voices so pure they suggest a seraphic chorus beyond the human sphere.”
Julian Wachner is the Director of Music and the Arts at Trinity Wall Street, and the principal conductor of the Trinity Choir. Previous Directors of Music at Trinity include acting director Steven Fox (2009), Dr. J. Owen Burdick (1990-2008), Dr. Larry King (1968-1989), and George Mead (1941-1968). In recent years the Choir has collaborated with a number of guest conductors including Jane Glover, Stefan Parkman, Simon Carrington, Andrew Megill (who also served as Guest Choirmaster in 2008 and 2009), and Eric J. Milnes. Guests in 2010 will include Andrew Parrott, Steven Fox, and Stefan Parkman’s in a return engagement.
The Trinity Choir has recently released Haydn: The Complete Masses, an eight-disc boxed-set on the Naxos label. Twelve masses and the Stabat Mater were recorded over a nine-year period in Trinity Church. Conducted by Burdick and Glover, and in collaboration with Rebel Baroque Orchestra, the set commemorates the bicentenary of the composer’s death. Also on Naxos, the Choir has recorded Georg Frideric Handel’s Messiah and Christmas from Trinity. In addition to these recordings, Trinity Choir concerts are broadcast on WQXR 105.9 (a subsidiary of WNYC).
A highlight of the Choir’s season is their annual presentation of G.F. Handel’s Messiah. With a profusion of Messiah performances in New York City concert halls and sacred spaces every holiday season, the Trinity Choir’s offering stands out. The New York Times hailed the Choir’s 2005 performance as, “A Messiah to Beat in a Season Bursting With Them,” praising the “pure” voices of the soloists from the Choir.
Under the direction of J. Owen Burdick, the Choir offered New York premieres of many works including Dominick Argento’s The Masque of Angels, and William Albright’s oratorio, A Song to David, which the composer hailed as the work’s “finest, most accurate and moving performance.” Premieres under Larry King included Iain Hamilton’s Epitaph for This World and Time, Jean Guillou’s Allen, and several liturgical settings by Richard Feliciano, as well as much of King’s own music. In addition to their active concert series at Trinity Church, the Choir has appeared at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, and The Tribeca Film Festival, which invited the Choir to perform Arvo Pärt’s Passio in a mixed-media collaboration with Paolo Cherchi Usai’s film of the same name.
Video profiles of choir members and guest conductors can be found on the Trinity Wall Street website. Other feature videos include a history and appreciation of G.F. Handel’s Messiah and the story of a music camp started in post-Katrina New Orleans by several Choir members. A rich archive of past concerts can be found online as well. Go to the “Music at Trinity” channel.