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Musica Sacra's season finale combines renowned artists with rising stars
by Amelia Kusar for Vocal Area Network
Posted March 15, 2009

Musica SacraMusica Sacra, one of New York's most distinguished professional choruses, presents the final concert of their season on March 20, 2009 in the Rose Theater, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Under the leadership of music director Kent Tritle, the evening's program celebrates the confluence of well-established artists and the next generation of musical talent. Highly-regarded pianist Margo Garrett pairs with the Sorel Organization's Medallion in Collaborative Piano winner Sunglee Victoria Choi to accompany the chorus in performing Brahms's rarely heard piano four-hands version of Ein Deutsches Requiem, featuring soprano Leslie Fagan and Lindemann Young Artist baritone John Michael Moore. Ms. Garrett and Ms. Choi will also collaborate in Schubert's Fantasia in F minor, while Ms. Choi will accompany Mr. Moore for Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen.

Brahms was moved to compose Ein Deutsches Requiem soon after the death of his own mother. This consoling and uplifting testament is brought to light in an uncommon way as Musica Sacra performs the composer's expertly conceived arrangement for piano four-hands. “In contrast to the thick and luxurious orchestral version of the Requiem,” Mr. Tritle explains, “the delicacy of Brahms's arrangement for piano four-hands truly allows the clarity, nuance, and brilliance of his choral writing to sparkle in a way that audiences may never have heard before.”

Lieder eines fahrenden GesellenSongs of a Travelling Journeyman—is Gustav Mahler's first song cycle. The lyrics were written by the composer himself, though they are influenced by Des Knaben Wunderhorn, a collection of German folk poetry that was one of Mahler's favorite books. Composed during the last year of his life, Schubert's Fantasia in F minor for piano four-hands is regarded as one of his finest piano works in terms of character and style, and is considered a cornerstone of duet literature.

Founded in 1964, Musica Sacra is the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York City. In a city rich with cultural life and activity, Musica Sacra stands out as one of the few outstanding presenters of choral music dedicated to communicating art through the profound human experience and connectedness of ensemble singing. In addition to its acknowledged affinity for Baroque music, Musica Sacra has performed in all styles, from the chant of Hildegard to commissioned works and first performances of leading contemporary composers, such as Diamond, Britten, Khatchaturian, Convery and Rorem. They have recorded on RCA, BMG and Deutsche Grammophon.

Music Director Kent Tritle is one of America's leading choral conductors. In addition to directing Musica Sacra, Mr. Tritle is the Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York, Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music, and Director of Music Ministries at The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola where he founded the acclaimed concert series, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, now in its 20th season. Mr. Tritle serves on the graduate faculty at Juilliard, where he directs a practicum for the Vocal Arts Department and teaches choral conducting. Since 1994 he has been Organist of The New York Philharmonic.

Musica Sacra's inclusion of the Sorel Medallion winner in its final concert was arranged after Judy Cope, Sorel's Executive Director, saw a partnership between the two organizations as an invaluable opportunity for the next generation of talented musicians to work alongside well-established artists. The Elizabeth & Michel Sorel Charitable Organization Inc. was established as a private foundation in 1996, with the mission of expanding boundaries for women in music. Claudette Sorel, who founded the charity in honor of her parents, remains the youngest graduate of The Juilliard School, completing her degree at age 9, after which she became an internationally acclaimed concert pianist in the predominantly male world of performers. Ms. Sorel passed away in 1999, but her vision remains strong in the Organization's continued devotion to furthering the prospects of talented women pursuing careers in music. The Medallion Program was launched in 2006 with the first Choral Competition Program. The program has since expanded to include competitions in conducting and piano collaboration, and looks forward to similar contests in composition and film scoring.

Pianist Margo Garrett is well known to audiences for her frequent performances in chamber, sonata and vocal recitals. In addition to a large roster of internationally-known artists with whom she has long performing relationships, Ms. Garrett is a dedicated leader among educators of collaborative pianists. After an 8-year absence, she returned to The Juilliard School Collaborative Piano Faculty in 2000, which she headed from 1985 to 1992. She also was the first holder of the Ethel Alice Hitchcock Chair in Accompanying and Coaching at the University of Minnesota's School of Music, the first privately endowed collaborative chair in the United States. She has formerly headed collaborative programs at New England Conservatory and Westminster Choir College. She is a frequent consultant to universities and conservatories in their development of collaborative piano programs and travels the world adjudicating and teaching classes.

Soprano Leslie Fagan's exceptional artistry and talent continue to garner much attention. Having performed under the batons of such noted conductors as Hans Graf, Sir David Wilcocks, Jukke Pekke Saraste, and Daniel Lipton, Ms. Fagan has delighted audiences and critics alike at Royal Albert Hall, Bordeaux Opera House, Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall. Ms. Fagan can be heard and seen on the radio and television networks of both CBC and BBC. Leslie Fagan's recordings include her debut solo album le miroir de mon amour and A Song for All Seasons with The Toronto Children's Chorus.

John Michael Moore was raised in Okoboji, Iowa, and received his undergraduate degree from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. In 2005, Mr. Moore was a resident artist with Minnesota Opera, where he performed the roles of Sciarrone in Tosca and Masetto in Don Giovanni. He also performed with the Des Moines Metro Opera for their 2005 and 2006 seasons in the roles of Yamadori in Madama Butterfly, Henry Cuffe in Gloriana and Papageno in The Magic Flute. Mr. Moore joined the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artst Development Program in 2006, and made his Metropolitan Opera debut this season, singing Fiorello in Il Barbiere de Siviglia. This season Mr. Moore performs the role of Figaro in both the Welsh National Opera's and the Des Moines Metro Operaj's production of Il Barbiere de Siviglia, and also makes a return appearance at the Marlboro Music Festival.

The Sorel Organization's Medallion in Piano Collaboration winner Sunglee Victoria Choi has already established herself in her native country as an accomplished performer and awarded collaborator. At age 15, Ms. Choi made her Seoul debut with the Bulgaria Sofia National Orchestra playing Chopin's First Piano Concerto. She received her Artists' Diploma from the Korean National University of Arts and later earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Yonsei University. Ms. Choi has performed and participated in master classes at the Academie de Musique de Lausanne as a pianist in one of only ten piano and violin duos selected for sonata study with Bruno Canino and Pierre Amoyal. Ms. Choi currently enjoys her role as studio accompanist to Hyo Kang at The Juilliard School, where she is in her second year of study in the Master's of Music Collaborative Piano program, studying with Margo Garrett, Jonathan Feldman and J.J. Penna.

Tickets are $25-$110 and are available at www.MusicaSacraNY.com/tickets or by calling CenterCharge at 212-721-6500 (TTY 212-957-1709).

Amelia Kusar is a publicist with Kirshbaum Demler & Associates.

Content Contact: Amelia Kusar.
Revision Date: March 15, 2009.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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