Review: Trinity Wall Street and Julian Wachner Play Carnegie Hall

Julian Wachner
The New York Times

By Anthony Tommasini

Julian Wachner, the impressive director of music and the arts at Trinity Wall Street, didn’t seem the slightest bit nervous in his first performance as a conductor at Carnegie Hall on Saturday night. He affably welcomed the audience, thanking everyone for braving not just the winter weather but the program he had planned. The concert paired Ives’s Fourth Symphony, generally considered one of the most complex and challenging 20th-century symphonic works, and a rare performance of an intense 60-minute oratorio, “Turbae ad Passionem Gregorianam,” by the Argentine-born composer Alberto Ginastera, first performed in 1975.

For these works, Mr. Wachner, who is also a composer, assembled some 300 performers: the excellent Choir of Trinity Wall Street; the Trinity Youth Chorus; the Washington Chorus, an award-winning ensemble that Mr. Wachner also directs; the Boy and Girl Choristers of Washington National Cathedral Choir; and Novus NY, the Trinity Wall Street’s contemporary music orchestra, its ranks fortified for this demanding concert with extra players.

Mr. Wachner prepared the audience by first sitting at a piano onstage and leading everyone in some hymn singing. The score, typical for Ives, is laced with hymn tunes, sometimes fairly direct, sometimes veiled. Ives assumed that any audience in his day would recognize the hymns when hearing his symphony. So to help the listeners at Carnegie do so, Mr. Wachner, asked everyone to sing along, following a sheet of printed music inserted into the programs, including the choir members who, for the Ives, were sitting in the first balcony.

Mr. Wachner led a viscerally dramatic performance. With this concert he signaled that next year, the centennial of Ginastera, Trinity Wall Street will present an extensive survey of the composer’s works. Adventure and ambition go hand in hand at Trinity Wall Street.

Read the full review here.