Kent Tritle, Conductor
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 Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City; Music Director of Musica Sacra, the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York; and Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York, the acclaimed 200-voice volunteer chorus.
In addition, Kent 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, Kent Tritle is the organist of the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra.
In the summer of 2016, Kent makes his Asian debut, an appearance at South Korea’s Great Mountains Music Festival and School conducting The National Chorus of Korea and the GMMFS Orchestra in a program featuring Beethoven’s Mass in C Major. This landmark event launches a 2016-17 season highlighted by the U.S. premiere of Einojuhani Rautaavara’s Vigilia (the full work) at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; masterpiece masses by Bach and Mozart with the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall; programs of Palestrina, Arvo Pärt, and Sir John Tavener, and of Bach, Britten, and Brahms with Musica Sacra; and the third annual presentation of a major choral work by the Oratorio Society and the Manhattan School of Music at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine: Britten’s War Requiem.
Recent notable performances have included: at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Verdi’s Requiem and Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” performed by the Oratorio Society of New York and the Symphony and Symphonic Chorus of the Manhattan School of Music, and programs of early music with the Cathedral Choir in the Chapel of St. James; with Musica Sacra, world premieres of music by Juraj Filas, Michael Gilbertson, and Robert Paterson and an acclaimed performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil; and with the Oratorio Society of New York, the world premiere of Juraj Filas’s Song of Solomon, and performances ofPaul Moravec’s Blizzard Voices and Songs of Love and War, Filas’s Requiem “Oratio Spei,” and Mozart’s arrangement of Handel’s Messiah.
Kent has created high-profile collaborations for his groups with other major players in the New York music scene, directing the Manhattan School of Music Symphonic Chorus for performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the New York Philharmonic led by Alan Gilbert; Musica Sacra for the New York Philharmonic’s presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey film screening and live score performance, also led by Gilbert; and the Oratorio Society of New York for Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s led by Sir Roger Norrington, and Carnegie Hall’s 125th Anniversary Gala. 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. He also 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.
As part of his work as Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music, Kent Tritle 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 2014 he made his third appearance as a featured conductor at the Berkshire Choral Festival, leading Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, and in 2015 and 2016 he led summer workshops at the Amherst Early Music Festival and Summer@Eastman, and a workshop in choral conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. 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. Kent hosted “The Choral Mix with Kent Tritle,” a weekly 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, and 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. Tritle 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; and pianist André Previn.
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, andSt. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. With the 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. In 2015 he became Chair of the Organ Department of the Manhattan School of Music.
Kent Tritle has made more than a dozen recordings on the Telarc, AMDG, Epiphany, Gothic, VAI and MSR Classics labels. Among his most recent are two with Musica Sacra: Eternal Reflections: Choral Music of Robert Paterson, a 2015 release about which Gramophone magazine said, “As shaped by Music Director Kent Tritle, the myriad hues, lyricism and nobility in Paterson's music emerge in all their splendour. The choristers of Musica Sacra lift their lines from the page, bringing passionate and lucid life to the varied challenges”; and Messages to Myself, an acclaimed recording of five new works (by Daniel Brewbaker, Michael Gilbertson, Zachary Patten, Behzad Ranjbaran, and Christopher Theofanidis). In 2013 he led a recording of Juraj Filas’ Requiem, Oratio Spei, dedicated to the victims of 9/11 with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, vocal soloists Ana María Martínez, Matthew Plenk, and Filip Bandzak, and the Kühn Choir.
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.