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Excellent New York Polyphony

Posted on: January 27th, 2013 by Art Leonard No Comments

My experience thus far with the male vocal quartet New York Polyphony has been that they are always excellent. Tonight’s concert at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in NY’s Times Square presented by Miller Theatre at Columbia University was no exception, all expectations met.

New York Polyphony consists of Geoffrey Williams (countertenor), Steven Caldicott Wilson (tenor), Christopher Dylan Herbert (baritone), and Craig Phillips (bass). They sing Renaissance polyphony like it was composed just for them.

On the menu tonight: Masses by William Byrd (1540-1623), John Plummer (c. 1410-1484), and Thomas Tallis (1505-1585). They claimed a New York premiere with the Plummer piece, but the program notes did not directly amplify this claim. Inserted in the first half was another New York premiere of a piece that Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012) wrote for them shortly before he died, and in the second half they bookended the Tallis mass with Andrew Smith’s Kyrie Cunctipotens genitor Deus and Gabriel Jackson’s Ite missa est, written for them as a completion to the Tallis mass and also receiving its New York premiere.

There is little more to say. These guys are just superb. They started performing together as a professional group in 2006, they’ve issued three superb CDs, they tour all over the place, and they can’t be beaten in this repertory. They recorded tonight’s program while on tour in Sweden, and it is scheduled for release on BIS this summer. Don’t miss them!