Music Director Kent Tritle

Kent Tritle is one of America’s leading choral conductors. Called “the brightest star in New York's choral music world” by The New York Times, he is in his fourth season as Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City; his eighth season as Music Director of Musica Sacra, the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York; and his tenth season as Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York, the acclaimed 200-voice volunteer chorus.

In addition, Kent is Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music and is a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School. Also an acclaimed organ virtuoso, Kent Tritle is the organist of the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra.

In the 2014-15 season Kent leads a tripartite collaboration emblematic of his multiple roles in New York’s choral life: a performance of Verdi’s Requiem by the Oratorio Society of New York and the Symphony and Symphonic Chorus of the Manhattan School of Music in the grand space of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Other highlights include: at St. John the Divine, Cathedral Choir programs of music ranging from Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame to Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum; with Musica Sacra, a program featuring world premieres of music by Juraj Filas, Michael Gilbertson, and Robert Paterson; and for his tenth anniversary season with the Oratorio Society, concerts of choral masterworks including Haydn’s Creation and Orff’s Carmina Burana.  He also participates in a 90th anniversary celebration of The Dessoff Choirs, one of three former music directors who will conduct at the concert.

Recent notable performances have included: at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a series of themed programs with world- and early-music ensemble Rose of the Compass; with Musica Sacra, an acclaimed performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, and the New York premiere of Jocelyn Hagen’s amass; and with the Oratorio Society of New York, the world premiere of Juraj Filas’s Song of Solomon, and performances of Paul Moravec’s Blizzard Voices and Songs of Love and War, and Mozart’s arrangement of Handel’s Messiah.

Kent led the “Mass Appeal Mass” of the “Make Music New York” festival for three years, including the 2012 premiere of a work by Philip Glass in Times Square. He has created high-profile collaborations for his groups with other major players in the New York music scene, in 2013 directing the Manhattan School of Music Symphonic Chorus for five performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the New York Philharmonic led by Alan Gilbert, and Musica Sacra for the New York Philharmonic’s presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey film screening and live score performance, also led by Alan Gilbert.  Also in 2013, Kent was the chorus director of the Carnegie Hall National High School Choral Festival, preparing three choruses from high schools across the country in Mozart’s Requiem.

As part of his work as Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music, Kent Tritle recently established the school’s first doctoral program in choral conducting. Tritle is also renowned as a master clinician, giving workshops on conducting and repertoire; in August 2014 he makes his third appearance as a featured conductor at the Berkshire Choral Festival, where he leads a performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. A Juilliard School faculty member since 1996, he currently directs a graduate practicum on oratorio in collaboration with the school’s Vocal Arts Department.

In more than 150 concerts presented by the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series, from 1989 to 2011, Kent Tritle conducted the Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola in a broad repertoire of sacred works, from Renaissance masses and oratorio masterworks to premieres by notable living composers, earning praise for building the choir and the concert series into one of the highlights of the New York concert scene.  From 1996 to 2004, Tritle was Music Director of the Emmy-nominated Dessoff Choirs.  Under his direction the Dessoff Choirs performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and Czech Philharmonic, as well as a nationally telecast Live from Lincoln Center concert of Mozart’s Requiem. Kent hosted “The Choral Mix with Kent Tritle,” a weekly radio program devoted to the vibrant world of choral music, on New York’s WQXR from 2010 to 2014.

Kent Tritle has worked with a wealth of young singers over the years; several with whom he was worked frequently are on the leading edge of the current group of rising stars in opera and concert: sopranos Susanna Phillips, Emalie Savoy, and Jennifer Zetlan; mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke; and tenor Paul Appleby. He has prepared choruses for conductors Alan Gilbert, Philippe Entremont, Christoph von Dohnányi, Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas, Robert Spano, Gerard Schwarz, Vladimir Spivakov, Nicholas McGegan, Leon Botstein, and Dennis Russell Davies. Among the soloists with whom he has collaborated are singers Renée Fleming, Jessye Norman, Hei-Kyung Hong, Marilyn Horne, Susanne Mentzer, Susan Graham, and Sherrill Milnes; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; pianist André Previn; and actor Tony Randall. 

As an organ recitalist, Kent Tritle performs regularly in Europe and across the United States; recital venues have included the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Zurich Tonhalle, the Church of St. Sulpice in Paris, Dresden’s Hofkirche, King’s College at Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, and St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. With the New York Philharmonic he has performed Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony conducted by Lorin Maazel and Andrew Davis, and recorded Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem, Britten’s War Requiem and Henze’s Symphony No. 9, all conducted by Kurt Masur, as well as the Grammy-nominated Sweeney Todd conducted by Andrew Litton.  He is featured on the DVDs The Organistas and Creating the Stradivarius of Organs.

Kent Tritle has made more than a dozen recordings on the Telarc, AMDG, Epiphany, Gothic, VAI and MSR Classics labels.  CDBaby recently made available his 2013 recording of Juraj Filas’s Requiem, Oratio Spei, dedicated to the victims of 9/11, a work whose New York premiere Kent conducted in 2011, with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, vocal soloists Ana María Martínez, Matthew Plenk, Filip Bandzak, and the Kühn Choir.

The recent recordings Messages to Myself — an acclaimed album with Musica Sacra of five new works by Daniel Brewbaker, Michael Gilbertson, Zachary Patten, Behzad Ranjbaran, and Christopher Theofanidis — and two releases with the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola, Cool of the Day — an a cappella program of music ranging from Gregorian chant, Palestrina, and spirituals to Strauss’s Deutsche Motette, and Ginastera’s The Lamentations of Jeremiah with Schnittke’s Concerto for Choir — have been praised by Gramophone, the American Record Guide, Audiophile Audition, and The Choral Journal.

Kent Tritle holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from The Juilliard School in organ performance and choral conducting. He has been featured on ABC World News Tonight, National Public Radio, and Minnesota Public Radio, as well as in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

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