Yes in My Backyard!

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

New York has emerged as an important center for choral singing, performance, composition and innovation. This week Kent Tritle takes you on a guided tour of the city’s indigenous choruses. From long standing professional groups, to amateur choirs to ambitious young pros, join Kent as he highlights just a few of the Big Apple's finest choirs.

Starting in downtown Manhattan: Voices of Ascension under Dennis Keene is setting new standards in live performance as well as quality recordings.

Further uptown: The Russian Chamber Chorus of New York, directed by Nikolai Kachanov who came to New York from Moscow in the 1980's. Maestro Kachanov initiated a whole tradition of Russian choral music in New York. To hear finer choral singing in Russian, you’ll need a passport!

And further uptown: the Manhattan School of Music has a stunning chorus, which we hear this week performing the great Brahms German Requiem, under the direction of Maestro Tritle.

Think Europe is the last word on choral music? Think again!


On an Upcoming Choral Mix: American vs. British Choirs - Which are better?

Listeners: In its January issue, Gramophone magazine ranked the world's best ensembles, and it found America lacking. Not a single U.S. group made the list. Indeed, the list was overwhelmingly dominated by British ensembles. Which leads us to wonder: Are English choirs really that much better? If so, what's lacking in America? We'll tackle this issue on our Jan. 30 episode. In the meantime, tell us what you think here.

Comments [25]

James Wetzel from Manhattan

The wealth of choral performances in New York is astounding. Thank you WQXR for sponsoring this show that will help spread the word about our wonderful art form. Explore the link to the New York Choral Consortium and its Sing New York! Choral Festival found on The Choral Mix page.

Feb. 17 2011 11:00 PM
jack Daniels from Brevard, North Carolina

As a proud father of one of the young freshmen at Manhattan School of Music , who was part of this show, it was so nice to get this to listen to this in some spare time. Thanks a lot.

Jan. 22 2011 12:16 PM
Kate from New York

Here, choral works and choruses get their deserved kudos - a rare occurrence! Thanks, Kent!

Jan. 15 2011 09:43 PM
Geni Sackson from Teaneck, NJ

Fabulous show! What a wonderful thing to hear high quality choral music on the air! It's too rare!

Jan. 15 2011 02:26 PM
Catherine "Cate" Green from St. Petersburg, FL

What a joy it is to hear my hometown singers while I am snowbirding in Florida. I have to catch the rebroadcasts as the early start is a bit too early for me. I do wish there was more Classical choral concerts here in St. Petersburg, Kudos and much love to you, Kent.

Jan. 15 2011 12:40 PM
R. Rice from Alexandria, VA

Great program. Thank you for promoting the glories of choral music, old and new.

Jan. 14 2011 10:32 AM
Bobby P

Thanks so much for bringing this wonderful music to the ears of so many eager listeners! Great choral music old and new deserves this spotlight, and this show gives it justice! Thank you!

Jan. 14 2011 09:24 AM
Mary-Jo Knight from Convent Station, NJ

As a Legacy Circle supporter of WQXR, a long term member of the Oratorio Society of New York and devoted listener of WQXR, it is so rewarding to finally hear this long-ignored form of music getting its day in the sun...I wish it wasn't so early or so late....but love the program.
What fun it would be to have an annual forum for choral singers and listeners to vote for the "Top Ten" choruses and to hear highlights compared in various recordings, etc.
Great kudos to Kent Tritle for bringing educational, exciting and inspirational life to this great music. You are touching so many lives!

Jan. 12 2011 01:47 PM
Lois Pace

Bravo, Kent! I don't think anyone has covered these individual choruses like this!
VERY INTERESTING!

Jan. 11 2011 09:12 PM
Ashby from Astoria

Such beautiful music. I'm so happy that you decided to do a tour of New York City groups, both professional and amateur and to let us in on which area of the city they're from. There are so many talented groups and your choices for this broadcast were impeccable. It made my Monday afternoon at work a rare treat indeed. I particularly loved the recording from the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York. Looking forward to your next broadcast!

Jan. 10 2011 05:31 PM
John Herzfeld from New York, N.Y.

Thanks, Kent, for another great show. You are really enriching our lives with this hour! I particularly enjoyed your "think again" comments about the Tchaikovsky Liturgy of St. John Chrisostom, because we at the West Village Chorale are going to sing three excerpts from that piece (Nos. 3, 9, & 11) in our winter concert Jan. 30. The whole program, put together by your old friend Michael Conley, is based on the premise of "out of character" compositions by great composers -- Romantic Bach, dark Mozart, calm Beethoven, and sacred Tchaikovsky and Copland. We'll also have a piece by Michael, "Immortal Beloved," illuminating the inner life of Beethoven through three texts of his private letters. Come on down to our new home at Judson Memorial Church, if you can make it! Keep up the good work with the show.

Jan. 10 2011 12:14 PM
John Herzfeld from New York, N.Y.

Thanks, Kent, for another great show. You are really enriching our lives with this hour! I particularly enjoyed your "think again" comments about the Tchaikovsky Liturgy of St. John Chrisostom, because we at the West Village Chorale are going to sing three excerpts from that piece (Nos. 3, 9, & 11) in our winter concert Jan. 30. The whole program, put together by your old friend Michael Conley, is based on the premise of "out of character" compositions by great composers -- Romantic Bach, dark Mozart, calm Beethoven, and sacred Tchaikovsky and Copland. We'll also have a piece by Michael, "Immortal Beloved," illuminating the inner life of Beethoven through three texts of his private letters. Come on down to our new home at Judson Memorial Church, if you can make it! Keep up the good work with the show.

Jan. 10 2011 12:13 PM
Mohov from Manhasset, NY

Congratulations on your new program, Kent! The Jan. 9 broadcast was a fascinting collage of the sacred song heard in Manhattan almost every day of the year. I agree with listener Meltzer that comparing recordings "stacks the deck", but having partaken in the recording of the Tchaikovsky Liturgy with our mutual friend Nikolai Kachanov I can tell you that it took "blood, sweat and tears" to make it stand out as #4 among the 10 best classical recordings of the year 2001, as chosen by James R. Oestreich of the New York Times. There's more to hear and watch here: http://rccny.org/WatchandListen.html Again congrats on the program, Kent, and wishing you health, happiness, and more collaborations in the New Year.--NicM

Jan. 10 2011 12:05 PM
Steven Lanser from Upper Manhattan

Wonderful program, Kent! Thanks for dedicating the program to our "home teams" dedicated to our beloved art. My favorite NYC chorus is, naturally, my own choral home, The Dessoff Choirs, which you led so well for 8 years, but I am also a big fan of your Choir Of Saint Ignatius Loyla, Voices of Ascension, The Russian Chamber Chorus, Cerddorion, and Pomerium.

Jan. 09 2011 09:03 PM
Salvatore Diana from New York, NY

I'm glad you are covering the local choral scene as there is so much great work going on here. I sang for 10 years with Schola Cantorum on Hudson, who presents quite varied repertoire. I have now started a new group called The Salvatones (www.salvatones.com) under the artistic direction of Daniel Brondel. One thing that the Salvatones hope to do is work increasingly with composers/arrangers to record/perform their works. There is a lot of this kind of activity happening here in NYC. Not only can you hear/see great performances of the great standards of the choral repertoire but also explore newer and lesser known works. Some of my greatest experiences have been in premiering works and working with composers. It would be great to have a program where some composers who are actively working and the choruses with which they are collaborating are featured.

Jan. 09 2011 05:00 PM
Ora McCReary from Manhattan

I love your show, Kent. Today's theme (local choruses) is a particularly interesting theme. Keep up the good work!

Jan. 09 2011 03:25 PM
Sig from Manhattan

Just go to VAN.org to see the variety of NY area groups, both amateur & Pro- impossible for the limited staffs of reviewers to adequately cover. I Recomend just go and sample, meet and join an active singing community.

Jan. 09 2011 08:57 AM
Deborah from Teaneck, NJ

Although I loved every minute of this show, I have listened to all the broadcasts in this series and always come away with the feeling that "choral music" is being equated with "church music."
There are so many more dimensions to choral music than that - try the Zamir Choral uptown for the best Jewish choral music in the country, or Cantigas Women's Choir right across the river in Hoboken for an amazing array of world music.
I hope that we will get to hear a bit of this variety in the future.

Jan. 09 2011 08:19 AM
Eileen Bernstein from hudson heights,the upper,upper westside

Thanks for a delicious array of sounds.It would be great to hear some live in studio performances and interviews.Let's hear more from the Russian Chamber Chorus of NYC. My personal favorite!Ken keep those sonorous voices coming from the heart of our city.

Jan. 09 2011 08:13 AM
Dominique Jeannot from Brooklyn, NY, United States

What a lovely show! I especially felt nostalgic after hearing the excerpt from the Tchaikovsky Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, sung by the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York. I had the distinct pleasure of being a soprano on that recording when I was a part of the choir back then. Thanks Kent for the wonderful tour, and reminding me that there is so much in New York of beautiful choral singing.

Jan. 09 2011 08:02 AM
Michael Meltzer

Terrific program, Kent. Congratulations on another winner!

Jan. 09 2011 07:55 AM
Gary Freese from New York, NY

I listen to your show religiously each week. It's a wonderful way to start a Sunday morning. Then for my live choral fix I make my way to Christ Church Methodist on Park Avenue where the music and choir are exquisite. One of the best kept secrets in the entire city.

Jan. 09 2011 07:35 AM
Gev Sweeney from Ocean Grove, New Jersey

I love the choir of Trinity Church. Can't say why, really. It's strictly a from-the-heart reaction.Their Webcast of Messiah helped get me through being blizzard bound for the better part of a week. I'll listen to their Webcast of Israel in Egypt as I do some editing later today.

Jan. 09 2011 07:13 AM
Michael Meltzer

It is difficult to understand how Gramophone Magazine could have the slightest inkling of what goes on in our musical life. They can only compare recordings, and unfortunately that stacks the deck.
At recording companies, the A & R desk used to mean "Artists & Repertoire." It now means "Accounting & Reporting." Recording American choral performance is not considered "an investment." Once upon a time, companies were willing to live with issues that took a long time to sell out, if they looked like their appeal would last and had "prestige." No longer. If it won't pay for itself in the 11 months of a 90-day renewable bank loan, it doesn't get done.
Back to the topic: One New York name that is often overlooked is the Americas Vocal Ensemble, a 2-or-3-on-a-part virtuoso group that turns in consistently brilliant performances, albeit primarily repertoire of composers from south of the border. It is deftly conducted by Nelly Vuksic, whom most of us already know from NYCS and West Village Chorale summer sings.
These people can give the Swedish Radio Choir a run for its money.

Jan. 09 2011 01:50 AM
SandraL from Stamford,CT

And even further uptown, in Westchester and across the line in Fairfield County, choral music is also thriving in both quantity and quality, especially Greenwich Choral Society, Westchester Choral Society, and Mendelssohn Choir among others.

Jan. 05 2011 08:13 PM

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