Handel Messiah

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall

December 19, 2022 at 8 PM

Kent Tritle conductor
Maria Brea soprano • Heather Petrie contralto
Lawrence Jones tenor • Jesse Blumberg baritone
Orchestra of the Society

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Lauded by the Times as having the “Most majestic ‘Hallelujah,’” in New York City, the Oratorio Society of New York (OSNY) returns to Carnegie Hall for its 147th annual performance of Handel’s Messiah – a holiday tradition since 1874. Despite challenges surrounding COVID, OSNY has never missed an annual performance of Messiah, having held a digital performance in 2020, and in 2021, making a triumphant return to Carnegie Hall with their annual performance.

With Music Director Kent Tritle at the podium, rising soprano Maria Brea makes her OSNY debut, contralto Heather Petrie returns to OSNY, 2017 OSNY Oratorio-Solo Competition 1st Prize-winner Joshua Blue is the tenor soloist, and baritone Jesse Blumberg returns to sing with the Society.

Kent Tritle • Conductor

Photo credit: Jennifer Taylor

Kent Tritle is one of America’s leading choral conductors. Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York, he is also Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and Music Director of Musica Sacra, New York’s elite professional chorus.

Kent is a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School. Also an acclaimed organ virtuoso, Kent Tritle is the organist of the New York Philharmonic.

Highlights of the 2022-23 season include two world premieres: A Nation of Others, a new oratorio for six soloists, chorus and orchestra by Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell about immigrants’ arrival at Ellis Island in 1921, with the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall, and a setting of the Stabat Mater for organ, soloists, chorus, and orchestra by David Briggs at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Kent also leads Robert Paterson’s Whitman’s America (2016) and Bach’s Mass in B Minor with the Oratorio Society; music from 14th-century England and France and a program featuring music of women composers spanning more than five centuries with Musica Sacra; and “Venice: City of Light,” a collaboration with Rose of the Compass, holiday programs, and two organ recitals at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Kent also leads his annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, with Musica Sacra and the Oratorio Society of New York, at Carnegie Hall.

Among Kent’s recent notable performances: at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Verdi’s Requiem, Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand,” and Britten’s War Requiem performed by the Oratorio Society of New York and the Symphony and Symphonic Chorus of the Manhattan School of Music; and with the Cathedral Choir, the New York premiere performance by the Cathedral Choir of Einojuhani Rautaavara’s Vigilia (called by Opera News “a choral concert for the ages”). With Musica Sacra, world premieres of music by Juraj Filas, Michael Gilbertson, and Robert Paterson and an acclaimed performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil. And with the Oratorio Society of New York, the world premieres of the Paul Moravec/Mark Campbell oratorio Sanctuary Road (the recording of which received a Grammy nomination) and Juraj Filas’s Song of Solomon, and Mozart’s arrangement of Handel’s Messiah.

Kent has created high-profile collaborations for his groups with other major players in the New York music scene, directing the Manhattan School of Music Symphonic Chorus for performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the New York Philharmonic led by Alan Gilbert; Musica Sacra for the New York Philharmonic’s live score performances of 2001: A Space Odyssey, also led by Gilbert, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind; and the Oratorio Society of New York for Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s led by Sir Roger Norrington, and Carnegie Hall’s 125th Anniversary Gala. He also led the “Mass Appeal Mass” of the “Make Music New York” festival for three years, including the 2012 premiere of a work by Philip Glass in Times Square.

Kent Tritle is renowned as a master clinician, giving workshops on conducting and repertoire; he leads annual choral workshops at the Amherst Early Music Festival, and recent years have included workshops at Berkshire Choral International, Summer@Eastman and at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. As Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music from 2008 to 2022, Kent established the school’s first doctoral program in choral conducting. A Juilliard School faculty member since 1996, he currently directs a graduate practicum on oratorio in collaboration with the school’s Vocal Arts Department.

In more than 150 concerts presented by the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series from 1989 to 2011, Kent Tritle conducted the Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola in a broad repertoire of sacred works, from Renaissance masses and oratorio masterworks to premieres by notable living composers, earning praise for building the choir and the concert series into one of the highlights of the New York concert scene.  From 1996 to 2004, Tritle was Music Director of the Emmy-nominated Dessoff Choirs. Kent hosted “The Choral Mix with Kent Tritle,” a weekly program devoted to the vibrant world of choral music, on New York’s WQXR from 2010 to 2014.

As an organ recitalist, Kent Tritle performs regularly in Europe and across the United States; recital venues have included the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Zurich Tonhalle, the Church of St. Sulpice in Paris, Dresden’s Hofkirche, King’s College at Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, and St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. With the Philharmonic he has performed Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony conducted by Lorin Maazel, Andrew Davis, Antonio Pappano, and David Robertson, and recorded Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem, Britten’s War Requiem and Henze’s Symphony No. 9, all conducted by Kurt Masur, as well as the Grammy-nominated Sweeney Todd conducted by Andrew Litton. He is featured on the DVDs The Organistas and Creating the Stradivarius of Organs.

Kent Tritle’s discography features more than 20 recordings on the Telarc, Naxos, AMDG, Epiphany, Gothic, VAI and MSR Classics labels. Recent releases, including the Grammy-nominated 2018 world premiere performance of the Paul Moravec/Mark Campbell oratorio Sanctuary Road with the Oratorio Society of New York; the 2016 performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, David Briggs’s organ-choral version, and Eternal Reflections: Choral Music of Robert Paterson with Musica Sacra, have been praised by NPR Music, Gramophone, and The American Organist.

Kent is the 2020 recipient of Chorus America’s Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art. Other recent honors include the 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award from Career Bridges and the 2016 President’s Medal for Distinguished Service from the Manhattan School of Music. Kent is on the advisory boards of the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective (C4) and the Clarion Music Society, and was the 2016 honoree at Clarion’s annual gala.

Kent Tritle holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from The Juilliard School in organ performance and choral conducting. He has been featured on ABC World News Tonight, National Public Radio, and Minnesota Public Radio, as well as in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He was featured in Episode 6 of the first season of the WIRED video series “Masterminds,” an installment titled, “What Conductors Are Really Doing.”


María Brea • Soprano

Venezuelan soprano María Brea has been called a “fantastic soprano,” by Opera Wire showcasing “virtuosity as a singer” and imbuing “luxurious polish.”

Brea was chosen as a finalist in the 2022 Paris Competition and sang for the 2021 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. She previously won 6th prize in the Tenor Viñas Contest, where she also received a special award for the best interpreter of Zarzuela and a contract to perform with the orchestra at Teatro Liceu de Barcelona. Brea has been the recipient of awards in the Opera Cultura, Gerda Lissner, Giulio Gari, Mary Truman Art Song, and New York Lyric Opera Competitions, and received an encouragement award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Connecticut District Auditions.

In the Fall of 2022, Brea will represent Venezuela in Placido Domingo’s Operalia, The World Opera Competition in Latvia. Brea then performs Handel’s Messiah with the Indianapolis Symphony and the Oratorio Society of New York. In the Spring, she will join several symphonies and ensembles as a soprano soloist, including the Tucson Symphony in performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the Boston Philharmonic Youth Symphony in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, The Schubert Club in performances Reinaldo Moya’s String Quartet, and in Knoxville for a concert of Mozart works.

Heather Petrie • contralto

Heather Petrie is “a true contralto, with a big, deep, resonant projection that can fill a hall.” (New London Day) The 2022-2023 season includes a concert tour of South Korea; Carnegie Hall performances of Handel’s Messiah with Musica Sacra, and with the Oratorio Society of New York; Mozart’s Requiem with the American Classical Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall; Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius in Salt Lake City; two productions with the Metropolitan Opera, and several concerts throughout the New York area. In 2019 Heather was the second prize winner in the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Competition, and made her Carnegie Hall solo debut that winter with OSNY. As a soloist she has appeared with the American Symphony Orchestra, Voices of Ascension, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, and the New Orchestra of Washington.

Heather was thrilled to have had the opportunity to record concerts with the Oratorio Society, Danbury Symphony Orchestra, Musica Viva NYC, the Cathedral Choir of Saint John the Divine, and St. George’s Choral Society during seasons when in-person singing was not possible. Under normal circumstances, she performs frequently with the NY Philharmonic, Musica Sacra, the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola, and the Choir of Temple Emanu-El. In addition to numerous operatic roles, she has been a member of the opera chorus at both Bard Summerscape and the Princeton Festival, and is currently a member of the Metropolitan Opera Extra Chorus. Heather is a founding member of the critically acclaimed, eight-voice treble group Etherea Vocal Ensemble, and is prominently featured on both of their recordings, released by Delos. She holds degrees from Bard College and SUNY Purchase Conservatory.

Lawrence Jones • Tenor

Praised by the New York Times as “an impressive tenor,” Lawrence Jones has established an active presence on the concert and operatic stages. He has sung as a soloist with Boston Baroque, New York City Opera, Utah Symphony, Musica Sacra, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Saratoga, Charlotte Symphony, and Boston Modern Orchestra Project. He has received recognition for his portrayals of Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress at the Princeton and Aldeburgh Festivals, for which Opera News praised him for his “clean, ringing tenor”.

A frequent performer of the Cantatas and vocal works of J.S. Bach, Lawrence’s credits include performances of the St. John Passion, St. Matthew Passion, Christmas Oratorio, and B Minor Mass with the New Mexico Philharmonic, Saint Thomas Choir, Voices of Ascension, Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus, Bach Society of St. Louis, and the Choir of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.  

Lawrence previously performed at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York in the B Minor Mass and Messiah. Concert highlights from recent seasons include Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with the Naples Philharmonic; Janáček’s Amarus with Chorus pro Musica; and Bach’s Easter Oratorio at Lincoln Center with American Classical Orchestra.  

Lawrence has been a member of many acclaimed vocal ensembles, including the Clarion Choir, Tenet, and Cut Circle. With the latter, he has toured across Europe, and can be heard on the recordings Du Fay: The Tenor Masses, and Ockeghem: The Complete Songs.

Featured performances this season include Mozart’s Requiem with American Classical Orchestra; Franz Liszt’s piano transcription of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, with pianist Christopher Taylor; Christmas Oratorio with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem; and Handel’s Chandos Anthems with Masterworks Chorale.

Jesse Blumberg • Baritone

Baritone Jesse Blumberg enjoys a busy schedule of opera, concerts, and recitals, performing repertoire from the Renaissance and Baroque to the 20th and 21st centuries. His performances have included the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath at Minnesota Opera, Bernstein’s MASS at London’s Royal Festival Hall, various productions with Boston Early Music Festival, and featured roles with Atlanta Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Atelier, and Boston Lyric Opera. Jesse has made concert appearances with American Bach Soloists, Boston Baroque, Apollo’s Fire, Oratorio Society of New York, Montréal Baroque Festival, Arion Baroque, Early Music Vancouver, Pacific MusicWorks, and on Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. His recital highlights include appearances with the Marilyn Horne Foundation and New York Festival of Song, and performances of Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise with pianist Martin Katz.
During the busy 2022-2023 season, Jesse returns to Boston Early Music Festival for their opera production, Circé, returns to Boston Baroque as Oreste in Iphigénie en Tauride, and brings his celebrated interpretation of Handel’s Messiah to Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall and to Grand Philharmonic Choir (Kitchener, Ontario). He will also perform a number of recitals with pianist Martin Katz throughout the United States, and tour internationally with Mirror visions Ensemble. The 2021-2022 season included debuts with Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Grand Rapids Symphony, and returns to Boston Early Music Festival, Opera Atelier, and Mirror Visions Ensemble.

orchestra of the society

Violin 1
Lisa Rautenburg Concertmaster
Theresa Salomon
Fritz Krakowski
Lisa Matricardi
Cenovia Cummins
Shinwon Kim
Elizabeth Nielsen
Leah Gale Nelson
Violin 2
Andrea Schultz Principal
Maxim Moston
Hiroko Taguchi
Paula Flatow
Susan Dominguez
Andrea Andros
Alissa Smith Principal
Louise Schulman
Nikki Federman
Rebecca Osborn
Arthur J Fiacco Jr. Principal *
David Bakamjian
Sarah Carter
Garo Yellin
Roger Wagner Principal
Troy Rinker
Diane Lesser Principal
William Meredith
Stephanie Corwin Principal
Charles McCracken Jr.
Jonathan Heim Principal
Stephen Madancy
Daniel Ficarri
Andrew Henderson
Benjamin Herman Jr
* Orchestra Contractor

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