Friday, May 27, 2016

One year with the Trinity Choir

Photo by Willimark Obenza

Trinity Sunday (May 22, 2016) marked the end of my first season with the Trinity Choir.

I remember my first day at Trinity very clearly. I sat alone in the dark sanctuary and stared at the illuminated stained glass windows, feeling incredibly fortunate to have the job of filling this space with glorious choral music.

Over the last 10 years, I have immersed myself in Renaissance polyphony and more generally sacred choral music. I have performed and recorded sacred choral music from all periods of music, particularly the Renaissance, and grew fascinated with the lifestyle of the Renaissance composer. These composers spent their days working with the best musicians composing and performing choral music in great cathedrals. A life dedicated to making beautiful music in a beautiful space? Yes, please. Sign me up!

Cue Trinity. It was my opportunity to be the modern day William Byrd working at the Chapel Royal or Josquin at the Sistine Chapel. The music I was making, at least temporarily, was going to avoid the conference room sanctuaries bestowed on us via modern architecture and instead make its way through the transcepts, arches and halls of the historic Trinity Parish Church. Beautiful music for a beautiful building, like yin and yang.

Upon my arrival, we introduced a monthly Evensong service. It was too easy. A historic building with choir stalls is practically begging for an Evensong service. We sang music by Renaissance greats William Byrd and Thomas Tallis and early 20th century British masters of Herbert Howells and Charles V. Stanford. The acoustics made the music sound sublime. (Hear the choir in action at 1:29 in the video below) 

It was not long until I learned of the Trinity Development Project. Trinity, like many other churches, is looking for ways to remain financially sustainable in a changing world and is considering development on its property. Ideally, the sale of air rights above the north half of our property will provide Trinity with brand new facilities, a much-needed cushion to its endowment, and greater capacity for outreach. The sanctuary would remain as is, but the offices, Parish Hall and other spaces will be redeveloped. As with any church, this level of change has caused some anxiety among parishioners. Trinity is blessed with decade-long members who are tied to the current buildings as they are, understandably so.

I did not put myself in that category, until I came across this facebook post:

I realized I too had my own attachments to the building. My obsession with making music in a beautiful church convinced me on some level that the building itself gave the music meaning. The building through its stunning acoustics and beautiful architecture enhances the musical experience, but it is the people themselves that are actually making the music.

I'm impressed with their dedication to the music ministry at Trinity: the commitment of each choir member after a long work day to attend Thursday rehearsals and Sunday morning services, the fellowship, the post-rehearsal drinking and the various small and significant ways they help each other. Real friendships have formed.  It is this community that gives the music meaning.

So, instead of marveling at the stained glass windows, I will be spending my Sunday mornings enchanted by the glorious sounds these people are making and forever humbled by the opportunity to be a part of it.

Markdavin Obenza and tenor Robert Foley


Love to sing? Join the Trinity Choir and sing beautiful choral music from all eras. We are looking for singers of all voice types and skill levels to join the choir beginning this September 2016. The Trinity Choir rehearses Thursdays 7:30pm-9:15pm and sings for the Sunday 10:30am and monthly Evensong services. If you are interested, please contact Markdavin Obenza at or register online here.

Want to try it out first? You are welcome to join the pick up choir this on these Sundays: 6/12, 7/10, 8/7. We meet at 9:30am and prepare a simple anthem along with the hymns for the 10:30am Sunday service.

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