Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall
Monday, December 20 • 8 PM
A New York holiday tradition since 1874
Kent Tritle conductor
Leslie Fagan soprano / Heather Petrie contralto / Joshua Blue tenor / Sidney Outlaw baritone
Orchestra of the Society
This streamlined performance includes the Christmas portion of Messiah, with favorites from Parts II and III
Oratorio Society of New York 2021-22 Review: Händel’s ‘Messiah’
A Message of Hope in Times of Great Difficulties
Kent Tritle is one of America’s leading choral conductors. Called “the brightest star in New York’s choral music world” by The New York Times, he is Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City; Music Director of Musica Sacra, the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York; and Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York, the acclaimed 200-voice volunteer chorus.
In addition, Kent is Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music and is a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School. An acclaimed organ virtuoso, Kent Tritle is the organist of the New York Philharmonic and a member of the organ faculty of the Manhattan School of Music.
Highlights of events planned for the 2021-22 season include performances of selections from Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall with Musica Sacra and the Oratorio Society of New York, after a two-year absence; Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Oratorio Society; a program with Musica Sacra featuring works by Viktor Kalabis (on the eve of the Czech composer’s centennial) and Arvo Pärt and the world premiere of a commissioned work by Wang Jie; the Requiem mass of the Classical-era Afro-Brazilian composer José Maurício Nunes Garcia with the Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine as well as Garcia’s Stabat Mater with the Manhattan School of Music Symphony and Symphonic Chorus; the local premiere of the Stabat Mater of Alissa Firsova; an a cappella program of music by Britten, Pärt, and Gabrieli with the Oratorio Society of New York at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; and Honegger’s King David with the forces of the Manhattan School of Music (March 30).
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.
As part of his work as Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music, Kent established the school’s first doctoral program in choral conducting. 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. 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.”
Kent Tritle on Facebook: www.facebook.com/kenttritle
Kent Tritle on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kenttritle
Reviewing Leslie Fagan’s New York appearances, Opera News names her performance of the Poulenc Gloria as “ one of the most memorable performances of the season,” and the New York Times noted the soprano’s “transcendent moments” in Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall. In demand for concert appearances from North America to Europe and Asia, Ms. Fagan’s engagements include Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 under the direction of Hans Graf; a Stravinsky and Debussy concert with The Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine in France; Bach’s Das Weinachtsoratorium BWV 248 in Stuttgart, Germany; Handel’s Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall in England and with Tafelmusik Orchestra and Choir in Canada; and an engagement as guest soloist at the International Choral Festival in The Netherlands. She has performed with conductors Sir David Willcocks, Boris Brott, Jukke-Pekke Saraste, Elmer Iseler, Kent Tritle and Daniel Lipton with orchestras such as the National Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic and the Toronto Symphony, as well as the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Her recent engagements include concerts in New York, Spain, Japan and in the United Arab Emirates.
Leslie is co-founder of the Canadian Art Song Project, whose mandate is to champion the legacy of Canadian song. The first two CDs in the series, “Thread of Winter” and “Halibut Cheeks and other Love Songs” have been received with rave reviews. www.canadianartsong.ca
When not on the world stages, Leslie is an Assistant Professor who teaches aspiring singers at Wilfrid Laurier University. Recently, Leslie received the honour of being appointed to The Order of Ontario. www.lesliefagan.com
During the highly unusual 2020-2021 season of Socially-Distanced singing, 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. Under normal circumstances, she performs frequently with the NY Philharmonic, Musica Sacra, the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola, the Choir of Temple Emanu-El, and Essential Voices USA.
Known for her versatility onstage, Heather’s operatic roles include Mary (die Fliegende Holländer), Baba (The Medium), Arnalta (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro), Larina (Eugene Onegin), and Annina (der Rosenkavalier) in which she “made the most of comic situations with a Chaplinesque flair for stagecraft.” Additionally, she has been a member of the opera chorus at both Bard Summerscape and the Princeton Festival, as well as New York City Opera, 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. Their first CD, Ceremony of Carols, reached #4 on the Billboard Traditional Classical charts and quickly became an iTunes Best-Seller. Hymn to the Dawn, their sophomore release, contains several world premiere recordings and Heather “makes a quick but memorable solo contribution with her creamy contralto” (Opera News). She has toured Russia and England with the Clarion Music Society, debuting Maximilan Steinberg’s lost masterpiece Passion Week, which the choir recorded and received a Grammy nomination for. Originally from Maine, Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts in Voice from Bard College, and a Master of Music in Opera Performance from SUNY Purchase Conservatory. More information can be found at www.heatherpetriecontralto.com
In concert this season, British-American tenor Joshua Blue performs the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with LA Opera under the baton of James Conlon; appears at Carnegie Hall in Taneyev’s At the Reading of a Psalm with the American Symphony Orchestra, Margaret Bonds’s The Ballad of the Brown King: A Christmas Cantata with the Cecilia Chorus of New York, and Handel’s Messiah with the Oratorio Society of New York, and sings Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, NM. Mr. Blue will make several opera role debuts in 2021-22, including Peter in his house debut at Metropolitan Opera with the Grammy Award-winning cast of Porgy and Bess; the Duke in Rigoletto with Opera Philadelphia; Loge in the Jonathan Dove reduction of Das Rheingold with Virginia Opera; and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Berkshire Opera Festival. He also returns to the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to reprise the role of Tamino in The Magic Flute. Mr. Blue’s career has brought him to The Kennedy Center, Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, Library of Congress, and Music Academy of the West. He has performed at The Santa Fe Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and Austin Opera and worked with leading conductors Gianandrea Noseda, Eun Sun Kim, James Gaffigan, Fabio Luisi, David Robertson, John Fiore, and Roderick Cox. After attending Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Juilliard School he joined Cafritz Young Artist with the Washington National Opera. He received the Lotos Foundation’s inaugural James McCracken and Sandra Warfield Opera Prize. Mr. Blue appears on the Grammy-nominated recording of Paul Moravec’s Sanctuary Road and recently recorded Jeanine Tesori’s Blue with the Washington National Opera.
THE ORCHESTRA OF THE ORATORIO SOCIETY OF NEW YORK
Lisa Rautenberg concertmaster
Andrea Schultz principal
Alissa Smith principal
Arthur Fiacco Jr. principal*
Roger Wagner principal
Diane Lesser principal
Charles McCracken Jr. principal
Scott McIntosh principal
Renee Anne Louprette
Benjamin Herman Jr.
“Most important, with Mr. Tritle at the helm, quality and quantity are equal.”
“…a visceral performance”
“The first chorus, climaxing with the phrase ‘Let there be light’ was simply thrilling, with the singers of the Oratorio Society rising over the orchestra in a powerful surge of sound.”
“The star of the show, the Oratorio Society’s chorus, rang out gloriously—pitch-perfect—the singers radiantly persevering the masterpiece that is Handel’s Messiah.”
“It was a pleasure to hear the Oratorio Society’s splendid performance of Mozart’s beguiling arrangement under Mr. Tritle.”
“What mattered most, of course, was the fine music-making.”
“The chorus of nearly 200 voices sounded rich and full-bodied but never forced, and won the biggest, and deserved, ovation.”
“a beautifully blended,
thoroughly unified sound”
“the sheer energy of the society’s sound had an enveloping fervor”
“As I have learned to expect from the acclaimed OSNY, choral blend was outstanding.”