The Trinity Choir and High Renaissance

El 17 de enero de 2014. Hola. Want to hear something beautiful? Listen to/watch the Gloria and the other movements of the Missa de Beata Virgine (composed around 1510) by Josquin Despréz (ca. 1450 or 1455 to 27 August 1521) sung by the superb/magnificent Trinity Choir, the resident Chorus of Trinity Wall Street (Anglican) in lower Manhattan. The Missa de Beata Virgine was the Mass setting for the First Sunday of Navidad (see link below). Dr Julian Wachner, their director, and The Trinity Choir really worked during this Liturgy. The Chorus had a lot of music to prepare for this service, just in the Mass setting alone. It was splendid! I’ve watched it many times so far.

As I wrote in this article, the Trinity Choir excel at Renaissance and they looked like they really got into and enjoyed it, which was good to see. I was so glad that the cameras stayed on the Chorus and on Julian, rather than looking at the ceiling (the cameras seem absolutely fascinated with the ceiling at Trinity).

I also noticed that Julian used another pronunciation of the word “excelsis” in the Gloria of the Josquin Despréz than I was familiar with or have heard. I haven’t had time to research it but I suspect the pronunciation he chose is more authentic for the time period of the Josquin Despréz. He used “e-skel-sis.” I’ve only sung “e-shell-sis” or “e-sell-sis.” But now I know there’s a third way that word can be pronounced. I remember at the time that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus released their Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis recording with Margaret Hillis as Chorus Director, in that work they used “e-sell-sis” and that was new at the time (well, new for me at least and my choral friends in the District of Columbia). There were a few other words in this context (in the Latin text) that were pronounced differently than the way I/we sang them under Norman Scribner’s Choral Arts Society of Washington and Dr Paul Traver’s University of Maryland Chorus, for example. At the time I found it interesting (well I still do), then I started paying close attention to which Orchestra Chorus used which set of pronunciations of the text.

As I said earlier, Julian was “working it” for this Liturgy since he was also serving as principal organist. They still haven’t hired a principal organist at Trinity Wall Street. Is that because perspective organists are turned off by Trinity’s organ? Perhaps. I don’t know. I do know that with all the dinero/money Trinity Wall Street has they could afford any pipe organ they wanted or multiple pipe organs. They are the wealthiest church in the world. They used to have a pipe organ but switched it out for this Marshall & Ogletree digital organ. And no, I’m not dumping on digital organs the way some people do. I’m not like some snooty people in the organ field who are prejudiced against digital instruments and refer to a digital organ pejoratively as “an electronic organ” or “a fake organ.” [roll eyes] Come on people, stop this nonsense! I’ve read both descriptions and I have something to say about this since I’m sick of reading comments about it: A pipe organ is an “electronic” organ. Yes, it plugs into the wall or something to power it—and to get wind into the pipes—and there are electronics involved in the operation of the organ. It’s just that a pipe organ also has pipes. With Trinity’s digital organ, at least over the videos it does not sound like the best digital organ in my opinion. Sometimes on the videos it sounds like the speakers of the organ are getting overloaded with the pedals, as if maybe there’s not enough memory to handle the sound or all the notes.

In this Liturgy (First Sunday of Navidad), I didn’t like the Sequence Hymn at all (they call it The Gospel Hymn at Trinity). It did not at all “match” the rest of the more High Church Liturgy and especially the Josquin Despréz Mass setting. I did not like the piano accompaniment for The Gospel Hymn. I don’t like the use of piano in an Anglican church. Never have. A piano is too “ringy” or something with the acoustics of the room. And The Gospel Hymn they chose reminded me too much of being in a southern baptist or pentecostal church, and I’ve had experience in both. Ugh.

I enjoyed Julian’s organ improvisation during the censing of the free-standing altar. The priest who celebrated is very respectful of the Liturgy (compared to the burned-out Trinity Wall Street Rector who nearly jogs around the altar to cense it and gets it over with as quickly as possible. Just wondering: Has anyone else noticed that the Rector doesn’t even bow to the altar, or cross himself when he says, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit?” I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Anglican priest not do that. And when he’s blessing the congregation he just holds his hand up in the air but never makes the sign of the cross. [roll eyes]. But the priest who celebrated for this Liturgy was the opposite of the Rector in terms of respect for the Liturgy. I’ll be glad when the Rector is gone…in about 2 years or less I think it is. Yes, he’s taking that long to leave. Someone from the parish said: The pope left in two weeks (wasn’t it?) and this rector is going to take two years to leave. Sigh). Yes, he’s a piece of work. Some financial gain to be had while he talks about, “In the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he said: It’s more blest to give than to receive.” Of course, those words don’t apply to this Rector. The hypocrisy!

The timings for the Josquin Despréz are below. The Trinity Choir did such a superb job. I’m glad that The Trinity Choir has been there for Liturgies consistently lately and not another Chorus, if you know what I mean. Chau.—rosa barrio

The Gloria: 10.22 into the video
Offertory Anthem (Tavener): 52.50 into the video
The Sanctus: 01.01.28 into the video
Communion Anthem (Hassler): 01.15.08 into the video

Link to Video:
The First Sunday after Navidad • December 29, 2013, 11.15 a.m.

Service Leaflet for Liturgy:
Service Leaflet