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Orchestra of St. Luke's

Brahms's Requiem with Heras-Casado
Thursday, February 16, 2017 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
In his sublime Ein deutsches Requiem, Brahms created a work that evokes the contemplative spirit of Bach, though far from lacking any drama. The mournful march “Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras” (“For all flesh is as grass”) and the grand sixth-movement fugue carry tremendous emotional weight. Ein deutsches Requiem also offers hope and consolation, as evidenced in the beautiful soprano aria “Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit” ("Ye now have sorrow") and the quiet closing chorus “Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herrn sterben” ("Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord").


Orchestra of St. Luke's
Pablo Heras-Casado, Principal Conductor
Sophie Karthäuser, Soprano
Florian Boesch, Baritone
Musica Sacra
Kent Tritle, Music Director


LUTOSŁAWSKI Musique funèbre

BRAHMS Ein deutsches Requiem

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating.

Pre-Concert Talk

Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage with Paul Berry, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music History, Yale University.

This concert is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for choral music established by S. Donald Sussman in memory of Judith Arron and Robert Shaw.

At a Glance

The provocative concept at the heart of the Requiem of Johannes Brahms is spelled out in its title—Ein deutsches Requiem—that is a distinctly German work and not just a new setting of the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead. Although a relatively unobservant Lutheran, Brahms possessed a deep knowledge and appreciation of the Christian Scriptures, and wanted his Requiem to speak not only to the experiences of the devout, but also in broader humanistic terms about death and life.

Instead of using the traditional Latin texts of the Requiem Mass, Brahms crafted a customized libretto from a dozen books of the Bible (using Martin Luther’s canonical German translation). The narrative that results does not trace any specific incidents in the life of Jesus, nor does it convey any discernible doctrinal or theological argument. Instead, it speaks in universalizing terms about the passage from life to death, and especially the nearness of death in the midst of life. Brahms gives voice to this message, using all of the musical resources at his disposal—innovative orchestral effects, tender and memorable melodies, and carefully crafted choruses.

The Musique funèbre of Polish composer Witold Lutosławski offers a fitting wordless prelude to Ein deutsches Requiem—and not only because of its title. Like Brahms, Lutosławski was intensely invested in reimagining and reinterpreting the practices of previous generations of composers in bold new idioms. This impulse is as much present in the ambitious and highly structured fugues of the Requiem as in the more dissonant compositional effects of the Musique funèbre.


Orchestra of St. Luke's

Orchestra of St. Luke's (OSL) is one of America's most versatile and distinguished orchestras, collaborating with the world's greatest artists and performing ...

Orchestra of St. Luke's (OSL) is one of America's most versatile and distinguished orchestras, collaborating with the world's greatest artists and performing approximately 80 concerts each year--including its Carnegie Hall orchestra series, Chamber Music Series at The Morgan Library & Museum and Brooklyn Museum, and Caramoor Summer Season. In its 42-year history, OSL has commissioned more than 50 new works; has given more than 175 world, US, and New York City premieres; and has appeared on more than 100 recordings, including four Grammy Award winners and seven releases on its own label, St. Luke's Collection. Pablo Heras-Casado is OSL's principal conductor.

OSL grew out of a chamber ensemble that began giving concerts at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village in 1974. Today, the 21 virtuoso artists of St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble make up OSL's artistic core.

OSL owns and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Midtown Manhattan, where it shares a building with the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The DiMenna Center is New York City's premier venue for rehearsal, recording, and learning, having quickly gained a reputation for its superb acoustics, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordability. Since opening in 2011, The DiMenna Center has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors, including more than 400 ensembles and artists such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, James Taylor, and Sting. OSL hosts hundreds of neighbors, families, and schoolchildren at its home each year for free community events.

Through its Education and Community programs, OSL has introduced audiences across New York City to live classical music. OSL brings free chamber concerts to the five boroughs, offers free interactive music programs at The DiMenna Center, provides chamber music coaching for adult amateurs, and engages 10,000 public school students each year through its Free School Concerts. In 2013, OSL launched Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's (YOSL), an intensive afterschool instrumental instruction program that emphasizes musical excellence and social development, in partnership with community organizations and public schools in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

Pablo Heras-Casado

Orchestra of St. Luke's Principal Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado enjoys an unusually varied career that encompasses the great symphonic and operatic repertoire, historically informed performances, and cutting-edge contemporary scores. In the 2016-2017 season, he returns to the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He is re-invited to the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Salzburg's Mozartwoche. He continues his touring and recording partnerships with the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor und -Ensemble in Monteverdi's Selva morale e spirituale and with the Freiburger Barockorchester, with which he focuses on the works of Mendelssohn, including his Violin Concerto with Isabelle Faust. Opera projects include Le nozze di Figaro at Staatsoper Berlin, Carmen with Orchestre de Paris at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, and Der fliegende Holländer at Teatro Real in Madrid.

Highlights of recent seasons have included engagements with the Metropolitan Opera, the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the Royal Concertgebouw and Rotterdam Philharmonic orchestras, Vienna Symphony, and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Heras-Casado has appeared several times with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Ensemble Intercontemporain, and at the Baden-Baden and Salzburg festivals, as well as at the Lucerne Festival, where he co-directed the Academy under Pierre Boulez.

Mr. Heras-Casado records for Harmonia Mundi, as well as Deutsche Grammophon's Archiv Produktion.

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Sophie Karthäuser

Belgian soprano Sophie Karthäuser studied with Noelle Barker at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. She is ...

Belgian soprano Sophie Karthäuser studied with Noelle Barker at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. She is now in great demand in the foremost international venues, especially for performances of works by Mozart. She sang her first Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) under René Jacobs and her first Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) under William Christie. Among the other Mozart parts in her repertoire are Tamiri (Il re pastore), Sandrina and Serpetta (La finta giardiniera), Ilia (Idomeneo), and Zerlina (Don Giovanni). She has especially close relationships with the Théâtre de la Monnaie (Brussels) and the Theater an der Wien (Vienna), where she performs Baroque and Classical roles.

Ms. Karthäuser has appeared with all the leading period-instrument ensembles as well as with symphony orchestras that include the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, and Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under such conductors as Riccardo Chailly, William Christie, Myung-Whun Chung, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Thomas Hengelbrock, René Jacobs, Louis Langrée, Marc Minkowski, Kent Nagano, Kurt Masur, Christophe Rousset, Marcello Viotti, and Christian Zacharias. Since winning the Audience Prize at the Wigmore Hall Song Contest, she has developed an acclaimed career as a recitalist, enjoying a particularly close artistic partnership with American pianist Eugene Asti.

Ms. Karthäuser's extensive discography includes successful releases of arias and song recitals and complete operas. She may be heard in the Harmonia Mundi recordings of Mozart's La finta giardiniera and Pergolesi's Septem verba a Christo under the direction of René Jacobs. A new album dedicated to songs by Hugo Wolf has recently been released by Harmonia Mundi.

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Florian Boesch

Austrian baritone Florian Boesch is one of today's foremost lieder interpreters. He has appeared at London's Wigmore Hall, where he was artist in residence during the ...

Austrian baritone Florian Boesch is one of today's foremost lieder interpreters. He has appeared at London's Wigmore Hall, where he was artist in residence during the 2014-2015 season; the Musikverein and Konzerthaus (Vienna); Concertgebouw (Amsterdam); Laeiszhalle (Hamburg); Philharmonie (Cologne and Luxembourg); the Edinburgh and Schwetzingen festivals; and throughout the US and Canada. Accompanied by Malcolm Martineau, he has performed complete Schubert cycles in Glasgow, Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne.

A frequent guest on the concert platform, Mr. Boesch has worked with leading orchestras that include the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, London and Danish National symphony orchestras, Mozarteumorchester Salzburg, and Bamberg Symphony, collaborating with such conductors as Ivor Bolton, Riccardo Chailly, Gustavo Dudamel, Ádám Fischer, Iván Fischer, Valery Gergiev, Philippe Herreweghe, Matthew Halls, Paul McCreesh, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Simon Rattle, Robin Ticciati, and Franz Welser-Möst. He has also worked closely with Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

Operatic engagements include performances at the Theater an der Wien (Messiah, Radamisto, Lazarus, The Threepenny Opera), Staatsoper Hamburg, Los Angeles Opera, and the Bolshoi Theatre (Die Zauberflöte), as well as at the Salzburg (Così fan tutte), Handel, and Bregenz festivals. In 2011, he made his debut as Wozzeck at Opera Cologne.

This season, Mr. Boesch appears as Zebul in Handel's Jephtha at the Dutch National Opera, in Purcell's The Fairy Queen at the Theater an der Wien, and as Méphistophélès in Berlioz's La damnation de Faust at the Staatsoper Berlin.

Mr. Boesch's recording of lieder and ballads by Carl Loewe with Roger Vignoles, released by Hyperion, recently received the prestigious Edison Klassiek Award. Mr. Boesch's most recent CDs, Schubert's Der Wanderer with Roger Vignoles (Hyperion), and a complete Schubert cycle with Malcolm Martineau that features Winterreise, Die schöne Müllerin, and Schwanengesang (Onyx) have been highly acclaimed. In 2015, Die schöne Müllerin was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Vocal solo category.

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Musica Sacra

Musica Sacra, the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York City, was founded in 1964 by Richard Westenburg, and is now under the artistic ...

Musica Sacra, the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York City, was founded in 1964 by Richard Westenburg, and is now under the artistic leadership of Kent Tritle, who celebrates his 10th season this year. The chorus and orchestra's annual performances of Handel's Messiah at Carnegie Hall are a New York holiday tradition. In addition, the Musica Sacra Chorus is frequently invited to perform with such ensembles and companies as the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Mostly Mozart festival, and concert presenters throughout the region.

Musica Sacra has given the New York premieres of more than 25 choral works, of which more than 12 were world premieres. Continuing this commitment to expanding the choral repertoire, Musica Sacra's concert in March 2016 at Alice Tully Hall featured the world premiere of New York-based composer Evan Fein's oratorio Deborah, based on the Biblical character from the Book of Judges.

Musica Sacra's spring 2015 concert of contemporary music coincided with the release of the ensemble's second recording under the direction of Kent Tritle, featuring vocal works by Robert Paterson, an award-winning composer and founder of the American Modern Ensemble, including Lux Aeterna, which was written for Musica Sacra. This release, on the Naxos label, joins a growing discography on the BMG, RCA, and Deutsche Grammophon labels, including, in 2012, Messages to Myself, on the MSR Classics label. Musica Sacra has commissioned works by Daniel Brewbaker and Michael Gilbertson, and New York premieres by composers Zachary Patten, Behzad Ranjbaran, and Christopher Theofanidis may be heard on a collection of a cappella choral works.

Musics Sacra's community engagement initiative, in partnership with middle and high schools and social service organizations throughout New York City, reflects its dedication to educating students in the appreciation and history of choral music. For more information, please visit musicasacrany.com.

Now in his 10th season as music director of Musica Sacra, Kent Tritle is one of America's leading choral conductors. He serves concurrently as director of cathedral music and organist at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and as music director of the Oratorio Society of New York. A dedicated educator, Mr. Tritle is director of choral activities and chair of the organ department at the Manhattan School of Music, and is a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School. Also an acclaimed organ virtuoso, he is the organist of the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra, and is in demand internationally as a recitalist.

In the summer of 2016, Mr. Tritle made his Asian debut in an appearance at the Great Mountains Music Festival, where he conducted the National Chorus of Korea and the GMMFS Orchestra. Other highlights of the 2016-2017 season include the US premiere of Einojuhani Rautavaara's Vigilia; masses by Bach and Mozart with the Oratorio Society of New York; programs of Palestrina, Arvo Pärt, and Tavener, and of Bach, Britten, and Brahms with Musica Sacra; and the third annual presentation of a major choral work at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine by the Oratorio Society and the Manhattan School of Music, this year's selection being Britten's War Requiem.

Other recent performances include Verdi's Requiem and Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with the Oratorio Society of New York and the Symphony and Symphonic Chorus of the Manhattan School of Music; world premieres of music by Juraj Filas, Michael Gilbertson, and Robert Paterson with Musica Sacra; and the world premiere of Filas's Song of Solomon, performances of Paul Moravec's Blizzard Voices and Songs of Love and War, Filas's Requiem Oratio Spei, and Mozart's arrangement of Handel's Messiah with the Oratorio Society.

Mr. Tritle has made more than a dozen recordings on the AMDG, Gothic, Telarc, VAI, and MSR Classics labels. His most recent release is Four Quarters of Jerusalem with the Choir of Saint John the Divine and Rose of the Compass for Pro Organo.

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