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Kent Tritle



Kent Tritle has been the organist of the New York Philharmonic since 1994 and of the American Symphony Orchestra since 1993. He is also director of cathedral music and organist at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City, where he leads the Great Music in a Great Space series. In 2015 he became chair of the organ department of the Manhattan School of Music, a historically distinguished program whose alumni include David Higgs, now the chairman of the acclaimed Eastman School Organ Department.

Kent Tritle performed Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony with the New York Philharmonic in June 2010, conducted by Andrew Davis. He is featured in the Philharmonic’s recordings of Brahms’s A German 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. His other releases include The Romantic Organ and Kent Tritle at St. Ignatius Loyola, and recordings of Kevin Oldham’s Organ Symphony No. 1; Duruflé’s Suite for Organ, Op. 5; and works played on the Noack tracker organ at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow.

Tritle performs regularly as an organ recitalist in Europe and across the United States. Recital venues have included the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Zurich’s Tonhalle, Church of St. Sulpice in Paris, King’s College (Cambridge), Westminster Abbey, and St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

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 also music director of the Oratorio Society of New York and of Musica Sacra, and director of choral activities at the Manhattan School of Music. 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. He also 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 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. The first, Eternal Reflections: Choral Music of Robert Paterson, is 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.” The second is Messages to Myself, an acclaimed recording of five new works by Daniel Brewbaker, Michael Gilbertson, Zachary Patten, Behzad Ranjbaran, and Christopher Theofanidis. In 2013 Tritle led a recording of Juraj Filas’s 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.

For more information, visit www.kenttritle.com.

“I grew up thinking I would be a veterinarian with a pipe organ in my horse barn — an ideal combination.”

Interview with Kent Tritle

THE FACTS: Born in Spirit Lake, Iowa. B.M., organ performance, The Juilliard School; M.M., double major in organ performance and choral conducting, also at Juilliard. At the Philharmonic: Organist since 1994, joined the roster in 2000.

OTHER CURRENT ACTIVITIES: Director of Cathedral Music, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine; music director, Oratorio Society of New York; music director, Musica Sacra (NY); director of choral activities, Manhattan School of Music; faculty, The Juilliard School (Vocal Arts Department). International organ recitalist. Host of WQXR’s The Choral Mix with Kent Tritle. More than a dozen organ and choral recordings, including Cool of the Day (MSR).

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: We lived on a farm, and I remember singing around the piano with my family from a very early age. Mom played, Dad sang or played his trumpet, and we all joined in. We also were very active making music or five when I started to get into piano, playing by ear. The organ came later.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE GROWING UP ON A FARM? I learned a lot about responsibility and discipline. We farmed about 1,000 horses, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. My tasks included feeding the hogs, cattle, and horses; I also trained horses from about age six. I grew up thinking I would be a veterinarian with a pipe organ in my horse barn — an ideal combination.

WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING THE ORGAN? When I was in fourth grade we bought a home organ and I took lessons from Margaret Siewert, who played for local fashion shows. At that time I wanted to play for horse shows, the best of which used an organist! When I got to junior high our church invested in a new organ and presented a recital by a fine organist; I was smitten with Bach.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN? After high school. I thought I could major in music and pick up a pre-vet degree, but I soon realized that music would be it, and that I had to come to New York to do it.

WERE YOU INVOLVED IN ANY EXTRACURICULAR ACTIVITIES IN HIGH SCHOOL? I was active in the band (baritone horn and trombone) and the chamber choir; I did a lot of piano accompaniment, played at church, and for almost 10 years was a keyboard player in the rock band my brother and I started when I was in sixth grade.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE ORCHESTRA: Playing Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3, Organ, and Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone (180 pages of organ music!)

ARE THERE PERFORMERS IN YOUR FAMILY? I’m the oldest of five; all of us are musicians, although I’m the only one making my living in music. My companion, Arthur Fiacco, is a freelance cellist.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? I love playing with our cats and our cockatoo. And we love our house in Cragsmoor, New York, a 1906 cottage perched on a mountain beside a nature preserve.

As of February 2012

Upcoming 2023-2024 Performances

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