During the past year our magnificent home venue, the historic Church of the Ascension, has undergone the most substantial restoration since the end of the nineteenth century. And, in this coming season, we will see the installation and inauguration of the first French-built organ ever installed in New York. This important new organ will not only greatly enrich our choral series, but, beginning this season, we will be presenting the world's greatest organists in major recitals.
Built by Pascal Quoirin of St. Didier in Southern France, this instrument is the largest and most significant new organ project to take place in France in almost fifty years. It will have over 6,000 pipes and two organ consoles, and it will be highly eclectic in its tonal style: there will be many stops with the clarity and nuance appropriate for early organ and choral music, as well as the rich expressive sounds, the giant pedal Bombarde stops, and the brilliant horizontal trumpet pipes ("trompettes en chamade") found in the great cathedral organs of France.
This new organ is made possible by a grant from the Manton Foundation to honor the memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, who were active members of the Church of the Ascension for over 50 years.
Our celebrated choral series this year offers one of the richest selections of great music ever. Highlights include a return to the Church of St. Mary the Virgin for our enormously popular Christmas Concert; then we come back to the beautifully-restored Church of the Ascension for our Renaissance Concert - this year dedicated to the music of Lassus and Byrd; and, in March, a Vivaldi Festival with orchestra, featuring a delightful program of seldom-performed pieces. The final two choral concerts will include the exciting new organ in prominent roles: a Gala evening of French Choral Music including our signature piece, the transcendent Requiem of Maurice Duruflé; and, finally, a special June concert consisting entirely of works for chorus and organ.