New York Polyphony
Sunday, December 3, 2017 | 7pm
St. Mark’s Lutheran ChurchVenue Information
Sing Thee Nowell: Works by PHILIPPE VERDELOT, CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS, PETER MAXWELL DAVIES, ALEXANDER CRAIG and others.
About This Performance
New York Polyphony in their SF Performances’ debut performs an intimate meditation on the holiday season in Sing Thee Nowell, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, a program that spans nine centuries of music, in a fusion of historically informed performance of traditional works with new compositions.
Praised for a “rich, natural sound that’s larger and more complex than the sum of its parts,” (National Public Radio) New York Polyphony is one of the foremost vocal chamber ensembles active today. The four men, “singers of superb musicianship and vocal allure,” (The New Yorker) give vibrant, modern voice to repertoire ranging from Gregorian chant to cutting-edge compositions. Their dedication to innovative programming, as well as a focus on rare and rediscovered Renaissance and medieval works, has not only earned New York Polyphony two Grammy nominations and wide acclaim, but also helped to move early music into the classical mainstream.
Commissioning new works has been central to the mission of New York Polyphony since their founding in 2006. Both in performance and on recording, the ensemble has demonstrated a commitment to presenting contemporary compositions that explore the boundaries between ancient and modern music. They have forged relationships with numerous composers, including established artists such as Richard Rodney Bennett, Jonathan Berger and Jackson Hill, emerging talents Bora Yoon and Gregory Brown, and prominent figures such as Gabriel Jackson and Andrew Smith. In January 2017, as part of Miller Theatre at Columbia University's Early Music Series, New York Polyphony premiered The Vespers Sequence, a multi-movement setting of the Byzantine evening prayer service composed for the ensemble by Ivan Moody. Future projects include The Bitter Good by American composer Gregory Spears, for which the quartet was awarded a 2016 Commissioning Grant from Chamber Music America.
The ensemble’s growing discography includes two Grammy-nominated releases and albums that have topped the “best of” lists of The New Yorker, Gramophone, and BBC Music Magazine. In August 2016, New York Polyphony released Roma aeterna, a program highlighted by two masses of the High Renaissance by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Tomás Luis de Victoria. The album, their seventh overall and fourth on BIS Records, debuted at #4 on Billboard magazine's Traditional Classical Album chart. It has been hailed as "blissfully confident and beautiful” (BBC Radio 3—Record Review), "resplendent and elegant" (San Francisco Chronicle), and "nothing short of revelatory" (AllMusic).
Called a “spacious, radiant retreat" by The New York Times and selected as a "must have" in its Holiday Gift Guide, 2014's release Sing thee Nowell scored New York Polyphony its second Grammy nomination in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category. With the 2013 release of Times go by Turns, the ensemble’s fourth album, New York Polyphony continued “to claim a spot as one of the finest small vocal groups performing today” (Audiophile Audition). Commended as “a complex, clear-eyed yet still painfully beautiful tapestry,” (Gramophone) Times go by Turns amassed substantial critical acclaim. In addition to being named one of iTunes 10 Best Classical Releases of 2013, the album garnered a Grammy nomination.
New York Polyphony released endBeginning in early 2012. Featuring rare and never-before recorded works from the Franco-Flemish Renaissance, the album was hailed as a “gorgeous, reflective program” by National Public Radio and selected as one of the ‘Top Ten Notable Classical Music Recordings of 2012′ by The New Yorker. “A stunning tour through chant, polyphony and renaissance harmonies,” (Minnesota Public Radio) New York Polyphony’s 2010 effort Tudor City spent three weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard classical album chart. It was featured on Danish Public Radio, American Public Radio and NPR’s All Things Considered. New York Polyphony’s debut album I sing the birth was released in 2007. An intimate meditation on the Christmas season, the disc garnered unanimous praise. Gramophone named it “one of the season’s best,” BBC Music Magazine selected it as ‘Editor’s Christmas Choice’, and Classic FM Magazine (UK) deemed it “a disc for all seasons.”
New York Polyphony tours extensively, participating in major concert series and festivals around the world. Noteworthy engagements include debut performances at London’s Wigmore Hall and The Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, residencies at Dartmouth College and Stanford University, concerts under the aegis of the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht (Netherlands), and the European premiere of the Missa Charles Darwin—a newly commissioned secular Mass setting based on texts of Charles Darwin by composer Gregory Brown—at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. Elsewhere New York Polyphony has performed as part of the Tage Alter Musik Regensburg; Rheingau Musik Festival, Thüringer Bachwochen (Germany); Abvlensis International Music Festival (Spain); Stiftskonzerte Oberösterreich (Austria); Festival de Música de Morelia (Mexico); and the Elora Festival (Canada), among others. They have been featured on Performance Today for American Public Media, Footprints to Paradise: A Medieval Christmas for Public Radio International, and BBC Radio 3’s In Tune. In December 2011, New York Polyphony made its national television debut on The Martha Stewart Show.