Robert Paterson Recording

On March 4, 2015, Musica Sacra released its second recording under the direction of Kent Tritle: Eternal Reflections, an album of vocal works by Robert Paterson, the award-winning composer and founder of the American Modern Ensemble, that featuring eight works, including Lux Aeterna, which was written expressly for Musica Sacra and received its world première on March 4, 2015, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Recorded at New York’s Academy of Arts of Letters, the album is being produced by Grammy® Award-winning recording producer Adam Abeshouse and released under the American Modern Recordings label and distributed by NAXOS.

In addition to Lux Aeterna, the album will feature Eternal Reflections, a setting of texts by Czeslaw Milosz, Mary E. Frye, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, commissioned by the Volti Choir of San Francisco and the winner of the Cincinnati Camerata Composition Competition. Also included is another work commissioned by the Volti Choir, The Essence of Gravity. A Dream within a Dream, with a text by Edgar Allen Poe, was commissioned by the Chamber Choir of Europe, as was Life is But A Dream, based on Row, Row, Row Your Boat and incorporating multiple translations of this famous round in different languages. The Suite from a New Earth, for orchestra, chorus, and narrator, was written for the VYOA Choir during a Music Alive! New Music USA residency. Set to texts by Wendell Barry, James Joyce, Percy Bysshe Shelly, and William Wordsworth, the piece touches on environmental issues and global warming. Did You Hear?, with a text by David Cote, addresses the life of teens and the consequences of rumors and gossip. Snow Day, also set to a text by David Cote, was commissioned in 2014 by Pelham Memorial High School Choir and expresses the joy of having a day off from school.

“I strongly believe in working with musicians in my community. Kent and I first met in my neighborhood in NYC over 10 years ago when he lived here. Since then, we have become great friends. We are really excited to finally have this opportunity to work together, and especially with his choir, which consists of musicians we both know personally here in our community in New York.” – Robert Paterson

Messages to Myself  CD

Musica Sacra has a long history of releasing recordings to further the mission of sharing the finest choral music to the widest range of listeners possible. Most recently, Musica Sacra  released a new studio recording entitled Messages to Myself  featuring contemporary works for a cappella chorus. It was recorded in 2011 at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music and is released on the independent classical label MSR Classics. It marks Musica Sacra’s first commercial release since 1993 and its first under the direction of Kent Tritle as Music Director and Conductor. The album for a cappella chorus features works composed exclusively in the last 25 years and includes commissions by Musica Sacra of compositions of composers Daniel Brewbaker and Michael Gilbertson.

Composers and works featured:



CHORAL DE BÊTES (2004/2006)


WE ARE ONE (2008)


THE LAMB (1988)




Messages to Myself
Musica Sacra/ Kent Tritle
MSR 1411—78 minutes

I was surprised to learn that Musica Sacra—the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York City—has made no recordings since 1993. I own their well-known rendition of Messiah and have heard several of their other releases. While they sing everything from plainchant on, they’re known as steady and important performers of the newest choral music, having commissioned and premiered many worthy compositions—including several of the ones heard here. This is a fascinating survey of a cappella music written by living composers over the past 25 years. We have reason to expect more before long, as this is the first of a series.

In his introductory booklet comments, choirmaster-organist Kent Tritle (Musica Sacra’s director since 2008) describes the composers performed here as “near and dear to me”—his friends, colleagues, schoolmates from Juilliard, and one of them even a former student of his. I must laud his musical judgement, as there’s not a single work in this mixed sacred-secular program that lacks a high level of musical craftsmanship, imaginative treatment of texts, or strong listener appeal. More substantial, multi-section works include Michael Gilbertson’s Three Madrigals after Dowland, Christina Whitten Thomas’s Choral de Bêtes, Daniel Brewbaker’s Mother, Father, and Christopher Theofanides’s Messages to Myself. Shorter, but no less worthwhile pieces are Zachary Patten’s ‘Magnificat, Amen’, Bezhad Ranjbaran’s ‘We are One’, Robert Convery’s ‘The Lamb’, Aaron J Kernis’s ‘Effortlessly, Love Flows’, and Elliot Z Levine’s ‘I Thank You God’.

This is a sweetly sonorous and technically refined chamber ensemble of just under 30 voices, and Tritle has surely drawn some of New York’s finest vocalists to its ranks. MSR gives them their full due, with both a useful booklet and first-rate sound.

Past Recordings

Handel Messiah Highlights (with Blegen, Ciesinski, Aler, Cheek)
RCA Victor Red Seal 60481-2-RV

Handel Messiah (Complete) (with Blegen, Ciesinski, Aler, Cheek)
RCA Victor Red Seal Three LP Boxed Set and 3-cassette set

Brahms Songs and Romances
RCA Victor Red Seal RCD1-4916

Various Christmas Carols and Motets (including Gabrieli, Marenzio, Friedell)
Deutsche Grammophon 429 732-2

Kalmanoff The Joy of Prayer (Sherrill Milnes, Soloist)

Verdi Requiem (with Mehta; Caballé, Berini, Domingo, Plishka)
CBS Masterworks 36927

A Christmas Sing-Along
RCA Victor 09026-61910-2

Christmas Eve at The Cathedral
Vanguard VSD-71212

Songs and Psalms of the Divine (including Schoenberg, Tallis, Hancock, Bruckner, Strauss, Schütz)
Victor Red Seal RCA 09026-60970-2

Of Eternal Light (including Moran, Sherman, Gordon, Messiaen, Lygeti)
Catalyst (BMG Classics) 9026-61822-2

Monk and The Abbess (Hildegard von Bingen and Meredith Monk)
Catalyst (BMG Classics) 9026-68329-2

Handel Messiah – Complete (with Blegen, Ciesinski, Aler, Cheek) BMG/High Performance #63317

Note: Many of the above recordings have contributed excerpts to collections; these may be found at searching the Music/Classical area for “Westenburg” or “Musica Sacra.”