“Out of the depths I cry to you!” For nearly 3,000 years, humans have reached out to the divine through the Psalms, the Hebrew Bible’s book of hymns revealing the gratitude, fear, and longing of the human heart. In this unprecedented choral project, four world-renowned choirs traverse 1,000 years of music over the course of 12 thematic concerts featuring all 150 psalms by 150 different composers from Bach and Handel to today’s leading artists, including new commissions by Nico Muhly and David Lang, among others.
All concerts are approximately one hour long and will be preceded by a brief introduction.
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Ahead of the special concert series The Psalms Experience, WNYC’s John Schaefer and guests explore the history of the Psalms, their many musical traditions, the challenges of translation, and their contemporary resonance in a more secular world. Panelists include scholar and Psalms translator Robert Alter, musicologist Neil W. Levin, and David Van Biema, Time magazine’s former chief religion writer. Learn More
For the opening concert, New York’s own Choir of Trinity Wall Street explores the delicate interplay of love and fear that has long defined our leaders—both mortal and divine—in the historic St. Paul’s Chapel. Learn More
The Choir of Trinity Wall Street explores the mysteries of faith through this collection of psalms set to music by Rachmaninoff, Charpentier, Pachelbel, and more, at St. Paul’s Chapel. Learn More
The Psalms, which give voice to an ancient quest for justice, have inspired composers from the 12th century to the 21st. Here, the Choir of Trinity Wall Street performs settings by composers from medieval plainchant to Bruckner to a premiere by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lang. Learn More
Humanity has long wrestled with our seeming powerlessness, especially when it comes to changing the past. From this arises a common desire for redemption. The Choir of Trinity Wall Street explores the relationship between these two states of being, as captured by composers from Josquin des Prez and Rameau to Britten and Ives. Learn More
Tallis, Bach, Purcell, Monteverdi, Michael van der Aa: throughout the history of Western music, sublime artists have used the Psalms as a starting point for pondering our place in the universe and the state of humankind. The Netherlands Chamber Choir sounds out the texts’ existential yearnings at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. Learn More
Britain’s Tallis Scholars study the many expressions of psalmic gratitude for this praiseworthy concert highlighting Haydn, Schubert, and a premiere by New York composer Nico Muhly. Learn More
Across continents and millennia, humans have cried out in despair, feeling abandoned by their creator. The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir presents psalms from the proverbial wilderness in Armenian, Russian, Latin, and German translation, including a new commission in Aramaic by Lebanese composer Zad Moultaka. Learn More
Psalms of mourning need no translation, whether composed during the Dutch Renaissance, Mendelssohn’s Germany, or 20th-century America. The Netherlands Chamber Choir gives voice to human suffering through multilingual expressions of lamentation and the balm of miraculous music. Learn More
Perhaps there is no more recognizable psalm text than “The Lord is my shepherd.” Twentieth-century Danish composer Carl Nielsen gives this psalm new life, and a collection of early music explores trust in that which is greater than the self—all sung by the Tallis Scholars at Union Seminary’s James Memorial Chapel. Learn More
Join the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir in this sojourn through the generations from the Spanish Renaissance to today featuring contemporary works by Palestrina, Brahms, Arvo Pärt, and a premiere by Estonian composer Evelin Seppar. Learn More
Even in times of trial, the Psalms provide joyful poems of celebration. The Netherlands Chamber Choir performs euphoric settings by Poulenc and Purcell, among others. Learn More
Woven throughout the Psalms are pleas to shift the earthly balance between those in power and the powerless. In this concluding concert, the Tallis Scholars explore settings by Handel, Gabrieli, and others. All the themes of The Psalms Experience then culminate in the Renaissance splendor of Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium, with members of all four choirs joining forces to offer up an ecstatic expression of praise. Learn More