The Trinity Choir: Miércoles de Ceniza (Ash Wednesday) 2014

This article revisited: El 3 de septiembre de 2014. Someone wrote me yesterday asking essentially what others have asked about regarding my no longer writing about The Trinity Choir or the Liturgies. I appreciate that some people enjoyed my articles about The Trinity Choir, but I’m just so turned off by that place at this point. I went over to their slow website and checked out the most recent service leaflet from the last Domingo/Sunday en agosto/August. I wanted to watch/see the organ voluntary that was played at the beginning of the Liturgy so I watched the organist until the camera decided to show anything but the organist (such as the ceiling, walls, etc). I was disgusted, and it reminded me of why I don’t go there anymore. With this camera work nonsense, are they striving for the same effect that organist Diane Bish used in The Joy of Music? Is that what they’re doing or trying to do? Sigh. That technique worked for Ms Bish because she was in a different church or cathedral church each week, but even her production people didn’t show the buildings (ceiling, walls, High Altar) at the expense of showing her playing the organ. The focus was on her and her expertise and for a few measures the camera might show the stained glass windows or an interesting ceiling or something. In other words, they didn’t do what Trinity’s production people do. With Trinity, it’s the same church every week so the ceiling and the walls and the High Altar and anything else they show (but the musicians) don’t change, so is there a need to show those things each service when the organist is playing and one would like to see/watch him (they have a new organist finally) playing the organ voluntary? I take it that they at Trinity think watching the organist playing is boring to viewers and the Choir is boring to watch when they’re performing. Ha! That’s what I’ve concluded based on their camera work at Trinity. When I was watching the Liturgies, I didn’t listen to/watch the Homilies/Sermons, but I suspect the camera did not move off the priest giving the Homily and show the ceiling or the walls or the back of the Nave. I suspect that camera was fixed to that priest the entire time. So last Domingo, whenever the camera moved off the organist I skipped forward in the video to where the camera was back on the organist, so frankly I didn’t get to hear/see much of the organ voluntary at all. It was pretty much over right after it started at least for me. And this is one of the many reasons why I’m turned off by Trinity Wall Street. So no, I won’t be writing anymore about The Trinity Choir or anybody else there. Chau.—el barrio rosa

El 3 de junio de 2014. I received this kind e-mail recently:
“Hi, I enjoyed reading what you had to say about the services at Trinity Wall Street with the Trinity Choir. You haven’t written anything about them since Ash Wednesday. I had expected you to write about Easter. Just wondering…”
My response: Hola, I’m glad somebody enjoyed reading what I wrote about Trinity. I haven’t written anything since Ash Wednesday because I’m not writing anything more about The Trinity Choir for many reasons. Trinity Wall Street continues to remove some of the videos of their Liturgies. I haven’t gone through every article I wrote about them to see which videos are still on. But they seem to leave videos of the Liturgies on for about 3 months and then delete them (WHY?…when they own the copyright to their own videos!), which gives me dead links on pages for the videos they delete and makes what I’ve written about them pretty much irrelevant, because there’s no way to see or hear what I’ve written about. So it’s a waste of my time to write about them since I have no way of knowing which videos will be deleted and which videos they’ll leave on. I don’t know why they delete any of them. By doing so, they have deleted—what I would describe as—many legendary absolutely superb performances, and I’m not exaggerating. The Trinity Choir performed many pieces splendidly (such as the Renaissance pieces they performed for the liturgy on Ash Wednesday 2013) and now those performances are gone. What harm would it have done to have made them available indefinitely with as much dinero/money as this church has? What this tells me is that despite all the syrupy words about The Trinity Choir from some of the priests on occasion, that the “Administration” at Trinity Wall Street does not really appreciate the music and does not have “an ear” for music. Can they even tell the difference between The Trinity Choir and The Family Choir? If they did, they would not conceive of removing those videos of the Renaissance pieces (as an example) as well as others. It disgusts me that they removed those performances. Of course they don’t delete the homilies/sermons. No, they’re all still there. As much dinero/money as this church has they could leave them on for years (like Washington National Cathedral does and WNC has a lot less dinero than Trinity Wall Street). I don’t understand them at Trinity. And they recently “upgraded” that god-awful FlowPlayer they use. I can’t stand that thing and the reviews I found of that player online were not good. On my system, the videos are now jerky when they play so much so that they’re unwatchable. They weren’t jerky before this “upgrade.” The audio is fine but the video is jerky so when Julian is conducting The Trinity Choir, for example, his conducting looks jerky and does not match the music I’m hearing. People walking around in the Nave look jerky when they’re walking. That’s how bad the video quality is. Also, the player takes forever to load, it just spins and spins and spins and spins. Most people are not going to wait that long for it to load. I looked at one video the other day and they’re still showing people receiving Communion—I think we all have the hang of that—instead of showing The Trinity Choir in full singing the Communion Anthem. Someone wrote to me recently and said he had written to Trinity because he had the same criticisms of their camera work as I’ve written about. I think they only followed his suggestions for a short time and have since gone back to their old methods mostly. He specifically said he complained about not seeing the Choir during Communion, also one of my complaints. He didn’t say this but I’ve noticed it, they’ve turned off the mics above The Trinity Choir. Why would they do that? So now the Choir has a different “sound,” (they sound distanced) and they don’t sound quite as refined as they did for some reason. I’m not sure what’s going on with The Trinity Choir either. The Choir is rarely the exact same group of choristers. They come and go and the only thing that stays constant is the name: “The Trinity Choir.” But I suspect that most people at Trinity Wall Street can’t hear the difference between The Trinity Choir and that Family Choir they have even though there’s a big quality difference between the two. They still haven’t found a principal organist. Maybe if they installed a (new) high-quality pipe organ—and that church could afford to buy several pipe organs!—they wouldn’t have any trouble finding a superb principal organist on a permanent basis. Eric (who’s been filling in some and he’s a former organist at Washington National Cathedral and I saw him play when he was there) is superb, especially his improvisations and organ voluntaries, but it doesn’t look like he wants to move to NYC/Manhattan. So, that’s all I have to say about The Trinity Choir and Trinity Wall Street. Gracias for your e-mail. Chau.—rosa barrio

El 23 de marzo de 2014. Well it’s the season of Lent in the Liturgical Year in case you didn’t know. And on Miércoles de Ceniza/Ash Wednesday at Trinity Wall Street in Lower Manhattan (Anglican Communion) the superb Trinity Choir was on call for two Liturgies, which would be expected for that day. The music was the same for both liturgies. English composer, John Goss, and his piece, “Saviour of the World” (which I’d never heard before, but enjoyed very much the way they did it) was the Offertory Anthem. In my opinion, that piece was better performed for the earlier service. In the first performance, I liked how Julian asked those wonderful tenors to bring out their vocal lines in places in that piece. But they didn’t do it quite the same way the second time and it seemed a little faster the second time.

Then the Renaissance music (Josquin Despréz) for the Sanctus and Agnus Dei were the same as what they sang last year on this day. Wonderful music and I was glad they were using it again. But unfortunately neither the Sanctus or the Agnus Dei were performed as they were last year. At the first Liturgy this year, it was as if Julian had been given a time constraint by someone (as if he was told: “people need to get back to their offices so let’s shorten this some.” And my response would be: Well then shorten the sermon! If anything, people are here for the music and to hear my exquisite Chorus). The tempo of the Sanctus of the Josquin Despréz was a bit rushed—as if they were thinking “let’s see how fast we can do this”—as compared to last year. There were also cuts made, unfortunately. The Benedictus was cut out entirely and replaced with a short duet. I don’t like cuts made in musical compositions. Do it the way it was intended to be done. If the composer wanted something left out or omitted s/he wouldn’t have put it in the piece in the first place! It’s in there for a reason: Perform it! (This reminds me: poor Sergei Rachmaninov and all the ridiculous cuts he had to make to his compositions just to get them performed). Of course I don’t know for a fact but I suspect this all came from a priest and not Julian. Then at the second Liturgy, the tempo for the Josquin Despréz was that of last year (not rushed) but still with the Benedictus section missing in the Sanctus. It was lovely last year. I watched that video many times. And the Chorus really got into it which I like seeing.

Also, in both Liturgies they sang the Miserere by Allegri which is customary for this day. Julian accompanied that for some reason. I’ve heard that piece many, many times but never heard it accompanied. Last year the soprano who sang the solo for the Allegri was up in the back gallery with the—is it a SATB quartet at that place in the score?—and this year she was in the Choir area (the High Altar is really what it is since Trinity Wall Street was not built with a Quire area for some reason). Her solo didn’t work as well because the mics for The Trinity Choir were directly above/behind her so the effect of her solo was different than last year. She sang it beautifully with that high C. It’s just that it sounded better when she was in the back gallery last year, which gave a distanced effect, as opposed to being at a microphone.

There was lots of incense at the first liturgy because the Bishop of New York was there for that and he’s very respectful of the Liturgy (I sense he’s High Church), as opposed to that get-it-over-with-as-soon-as-possible Rector. The Bishop is there for the Liturgy. That Rector is there for financial reasons, period, and merely plays the role of the rector. That’s how I see him. Anyone noticed that that hombre doesn’t even bow at the altar or bless himself or make the sign of the cross when he’s blessing the congregation? What happened to setting an example as an Anglican priest? He can’t be bothered with that. I think he would be better suited in a corporate office in Manhattan and forget “the church” (any denomination for that matter) altogether.

So if you would like to listen to the music from El Miércoles de Ceniza/Ash Wednesday Liturgies, the links are below. Chau.—rosa barrio

Here are the links for the Ash Wednesday Liturgies (as long as they make the videos available) Watching/listening to these again to write down the timings reminded me of how lovely these pieces are and how superbly they were performed by the outstanding Trinity Choir:

The Goss anthem was better (in my opinion) in the first Liturgy at this link. It begins at 01.02.00 in the following video:

Ash Wednesday Liturgy: First

The Sanctus and Agnus Dei were better in the second Liturgy at this link (The Sanctus begins at 56.25 in the following video and the Agnus Dei begins at 01.09.40) The cameras don’t show much of the Chorus for the Agnus Dei. For some reason, the cameras are fascinated with people taking Communion. I don’t know why since it looks the same every week/Liturgy. It would be much more interesting to see the Chorus. So here’s the link to the video:

Ash Wednesday Liturgy: Second