James MacMillan - St. Luke Passion New York Premiere
St. Bartholomew’s Church, Park Avenue & 51st Street, New York, NY
April 8, 2017 at 8:00 PM
New York Choral Society and Orchestra
David Hayes, Conductor
Jason Roberts, Organist
Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Dianne Berkun Menaker, Artistic Director
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James MacMillan (b. 1959) is the pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation. His music combines rhythmic excitement, raw emotional power and spirituality. His choral music embraces sacred and secular, ancient and modern, meditative simplicity and rich ornamentation. MacMillan’s faith is central to his creativity and informs much of his choral music, whether capturing a mood of medieval meditation or reaching towards a state of spiritual ecstasy or contemplative peace.
His St. Luke Passion, written in 2013, is the second of four planned works, each based on one of the Gospels which aim to approach the differing passion accounts from contrasting stylistic perspectives. The St. Luke Passion is written for mixed chorus, children’s chorus, orchestra and organ. The adult chorus assumes the roles of evangelist and persecutors in music that is often highly dramatic. The words of Jesus are sung by a children’s chorus representing the innocence of Christ. The writing for the children is either in unison, symbolizing the oneness of Christ, or in three parts signifying the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The piece is framed by a Prelude exploring the Annunciation to set the scene, and a Postlude that goes beyond the Crucifixion to the Resurrection and Ascension.
NYChoral will be joined by the acclaimed Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Dianne Berkun Menaker, Artistic Director and Organist Jason Roberts at New York’s historic St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue. This performance is the evening before Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week.
BROOKLYN YOUTH CHORUS, celebrating its 25th anniversary, was recently named WQXR’s 2016-2017 Artists-in-Residence. The Chorus is a collective of young singers and vocal ensembles re-envisioning choral music performance through artistic innovation, collaboration, and their distinctively beautiful sound. With an incredibly versatile range and unique repertoire, Brooklyn Youth Chorus combines intensive vocal training and music study with exceptional performances. The Chorus has been praised by The New York Times as a “consistently bold organization” that regularly commissions and presents new music in genre-defying forms. The Chorus encompasses over 650 students in its core after-school and public school outreach programs. Classes take place at their Cobble Hill headquarters and locations in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, East Flatbush, and Red Hook, Brooklyn. For more information about the Brooklyn Youth Chorus please visit http://brooklynyouthchorus.org/.
Organist JASON ROBERTS became St. Bartholomew’s Associate Director of Music, Organist and the Director of the Boy and Girl Choristers in May 2014. Previously Mr. Roberts was at St. James's Church in West Hartford, CT, where he built one of the largest choral programs in the Hartford area, which included 35 children and more than 30 adults. He holds degrees from Rice University, Yale University and the Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Roberts is a sought-after recitalist in the U.S. and last summer was chosen to play at the Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Hartford, CT. An avid improviser, Mr. Roberts won first prize at the AGO National Competition in Organ Improvisation in 2008 and was a finalist at the St. Alban's International Organ Competition in 2011(Improvisation).
The Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ at St. Bartholomew’s Church is the largest in New York City and one of the great examples of the American Classic Organ. Over several decades the organ was enlarged through successive rebuilding to become an exceptional instrument for accompanying large choral works and the performance of a broad spectrum of organ literature. For more information about St. Bart’s organ please visit http://stbarts.org/music/pipe-organ/.