Three masses in 13 days. That's what the Trinity Choir, Trinity Wall Street's professional choir in New York City, undertook in September to complete its Haydn recording project -- that relied on the extraordinary resources of the choir, guest conductor Jane Glover, Rebel Baroque Orchestra, producer Bettina Covo, and staff.
The choir's boxed set of Franz Joseph Haydn's complete masses is scheduled for release on the NAXOS label in May 2009 on the 200th anniversary of the composer's death. The choir began recording the Haydn Masses in 2000 under the direction of Owen Burdick. Over the past seven years, they have learned, performed, and recorded nine masses as part of each season's choir concert series.
Jane Glover, an internationally renowned conductor and Mozart and Haydn scholar, conducted the Trinity Choir and Rebel Baroque Orchestra in March. Two of the masses recorded in September are those she conducted at that concert. The choir learned the remaining mass, Harmoniemesse, at a three-day retreat with guest choirmaster Andrew Megill, associate organist Robert Ridgell, and music associate Richard Lippold.
The choir returned to Trinity in early September for rehearsal with Jane Glover. Rehearsal and recording began each night in Trinity Church as it closed to the public -- and as Lower Manhattan became a quieter place more suited for world-class music making.
"There may be times," said Lippold, who also sang with the choir for the recordings, "when the subway comes through and just beefs up the timpani." Otherwise, the church had to be as quiet as possible to get a quality recording. That meant no air conditioning or anything in the church that made noise.
So how does a choir stay fresh throughout such a project? The singers said they paced themselves, stayed hydrated, and took it easy on their voices when they weren't singing.
"The schedule is intense," Lippold said. But, he added, "this choir speaks Haydn."
Learn more about the Trinity Choir and watch past concerts here.