Event Information

St. John’s Episcopal Church

James Pech

Price: $1

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
15 January 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

25 Apr 1867, Evening

Program Details

Festival of Trinity Choirs, New York.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Weber
Participants:  Orchestra, unidentified


Advertisement: New York Herald, 30 March 1867, 1.

“Full Orchestra and Chorus of about 300 Performers.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 30 March 1867.

Promises “about 300 performers.” Rehearsal schedule announced; invitation to members of church choirs to participate.

Advertisement: New York Sun, 01 April 1867.

“Full orchestra and chorus, of about 300 performers.   The whole under the direction of the Organists of the Parish.  Members of church choirs in New York and the vicinity, and all ladies and gentlemen familiar with the choruses in the Messiah, and respectfully invited to tend their aid in this performance.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 09 April 1867.

“No member of the Chorus will be entitled to an orchestra ticket for the night of performance unless he or she has attended one Full Choral of the Full Band Rehearsal.”

: Strong, George Templeton. New-York Historical Society. The Diaries of George Templeton Strong, 1863-1869: Musical Excerpts from the MSs, transcribed by Mary Simonson. ed. by Christopher Bruhn., 13 April 1867.

[Meeting of Trinity Church Vestry:] “Then came much talk about the Oratorio (The Messiah) lately produced at St. John’s Chapel.  Dix has blundered for once, and thrown some $2300.00 of expenses on the ‘corporation of T.C.’ which knew nothing of this oratorio, tho’ the names of members of the Vestry were set forth on its programme.  It was a failure, & we must foot the bill.  [Illeg.] King was of course vehement--made motions that were not seconded and so fell still born, and many other motions that came to naught.  He did not move, but suggested, a resolution of censure against Rev. Young, for his share in this very queer transaction.  Had the motion been made, I think I should have voted aye for tho’ the Rector is de jure responsible for the costly fiasco, Rev. Young is responsible de facto, and the Rector is chargeable only with too much confidence in the discretion of his foolish assistant Minister.  It’s said that Rev. Young is to be elected Bishop of Florida.  If so, I hope he will accept and go to Florida and stay there.  Trinity Parish can afford to dispense with his services.  The first performance of the oratorio was, it seems, successful and profitable.  The demand for seats largely exceeded the supply.  Rev. Young and his confederates, Messiter and Pech, two of our best organists, determined to repeat the performance.  But the ‘Musical Ring’ had not been consulted.  Its favor had not been secured.  So the next morning’s paper pronounced the performance a failure and few tickets were bought for its repetition.  Hence the deficit.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 19 April 1867.
Announcement: New York Post, 24 April 1867.
Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 24 April 1867.
Announcement: New-York Times, 25 April 1867, 5.
Review: New York Herald, 26 April 1867, 7.

“…The Messiah was given last night at St. John’s chapel, Varick street, by a large chorus and orchestra, Miss Brainerd, Miss Sterling and Messrs. Pening and Thomas sustaining the solo parts. The only fault we could find was that the conductor took the tempo of each chorus entirely too slow, and consequently the most essential part of the oratorio dragged. Many of the artists who are to appear at the great festival of oratorio and concert at Steinway Hall, in June, were present, and some of them took part in the oratorio. With a proper conductor we have no coubt that the materials in St. John’s chapel last night could be moulded to a satisfactory rendering of such a sublime work as the Messiah.” 

Review: New York Post, 26 April 1867.

“The highly successful performance of the oratorio of the Messiah at St. John’s Chapel last night was the beginning of a movement which we hope will result in similar and continuous efforts. There is no reason why the grand music of Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Rossini and Bach should not, as in this instance, be given in our churches, and it is especially grateful when devoted to charitable purposes. The singers who performed the solos last evening are well known to our readers, and it is just praise to say that they did well. Miss Brainerd excelled herself in the air, ‘Come unto me.’ But we could not but be impressed with the thought that she was inspired to greater effort by the remarkable performance of Miss Matilda Phillips, who preceded her in the song ‘He shall feed his flock.” Miss Phillips is a younger sister of the celebrated Adelaide Phillips, and is worthy the name. She has a high mezzo-soprano voice, under perfect control, of exquisite sympatheetic quality and purity of tone. Her method is admirable, while she possesses a dramatic power which is certain to give her a high place in the profession which she has adopted.

The chouses were well given last evening, the presence of the Trinity choir being marked by the clear accentuation of the boy voices, especially noticed in the fugue passages.

As this performance is to be repeated next Thursday night, we would suggest that the orchestra be strengthened, and that Miss Phillips should more frequently appear upon the programme.”  

Review: New-York Times, 26 April 1867, 5.

“Handel’s Oratorio of the ‘Messiah’ was performed last evening at St. John’s Chapel, in Varick street, by the united choirs of Trinity parish, with sundry auxiliaries from the Philharmonicon, the Harmonic Society and Mendelssohn Union, embracing in all, we suppose, about three hundred performers. It is to be regretted that we have no suitable edifice of an ecclesiastical character for a work of this pretentiousness. The doubtless well-meaning gentlemen who had the enterprise in hand promised in advance to show us how they manage these things in England, but as in England they have cathedrals, while here we have none, it is not surprising that, in one respect at least, the attempt without the deed should confound them. ‘Three hundred performers’ in a little chapel like St. Paul’s is about as absurd a thing in its way as would be an endeavor to inject the contents of a gallon jug into a pint bottle, or to squeeze a regiment of soldiers into a rockaway wagon. Cathedral music without the cathedral is not apt to be always impressive. The grand and glorious harmonies of the ‘Messiah,’ it is true, will thrill anywhere; but no lover of art will insist upon confining them to the narrow compass of the Varick-street chapel. The choral festival Dr. Cutler gave us at old Trinity awhile ago (and of which the Oratorio of last evening was in some sense a repetition) lost nothing of its harmonies and nothing of its grandeur by the architectural effects with which it was surrounded, and we cannot help thinking, therefore, that the experience of the gentlemen having the ‘Messiah’ in charge led them into an egregious mistake in swapping off the fine old church in Broadway for the comparatively unattractive chapel in Varick-street. The crowd, of course, was dense, for the Oratorio had been well advertised, and advertised, too, for the ‘benefit of the poor of the parish.’ Every pew and every seat had occupants. We are not aware that there is any legitimate connection between sacred music and bad ventilation, but the managers do not appear to be persons of our way of thinking. Doors and windows from first to last were kept shut. The heat hence was intense, and the public in peril of suffocation. But they endured it all to the end. The illuminated programme was carried out, in the main, with praiseworthy fidelity. The parts assigned to the ladies were tastefully rendered, especially the solos by Miss Brainerd, Miss Sterling and Miss Matilda Philips. The quartettes, ‘Since by Man Came Death,’ ‘For as in Adam All Die,’ in which Messrs. Perring and Thomas assisted, were marked by great delicacy of execution, and in so far there was nothing for the most exacting critic to find fault with’ but just here candor compels us to say, that if we were not possessed with a desire to wound as little as possible the sensibilities of some of the other performers (we refer especially to the choruses,) we would be obliged to record the fact that their execution at times was not faulty merely, but considerably below (we had almost said) the average of the ordinary concert-room. We are not prepared to affirm to what extent this drawback, together with some others pertaining to the orchestra, was referable to the apparent nervousness and occasional eccentricities of the conductor, but the fact itself was painfully conspicuous. With a little more familiarity with occasions of the kind, we would fain hope, he will attain more confidence and thereby certainly do less to balk, if he cannot aid the endeavors of his associates to please.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 26 April 1867.

“…Handel’s Messiah was produced with the promised sufficiency of choral numbers at the remarkable festival of the Trinity Choirs last evening. The objection that St. John’s Chapel is too small a building for proper audience of so great a work does, in some measure, hold good; but the effect of a grand chorus of three hundred voices ranged from altar-base almost up to the roof, and along the sides of the chapel, was nevertheless, agreeable and inspiring. With this chorus roaring in front, a perfect sea of the fugues of Handel, and the organ and orchestra in front and at back of the chapel, the hearer found himself not unpleasantly taken by storm. Dr. Peck conducted well, but not all his choruses were promptly taken, and we have heard the famous Hallelujah recently given with grander masses of voice, but perhaps not with more precision, in a larger hall. The orchestra was excellently handled, and the fine overture of Weber, and the thrilling Pastoral Symphony were faithfully discoursed. The contralto recitative of Miss Sterling, and the soprano of Miss Brainerd were each carefully and appreciatively given; and Mr. Perring’s and Mr. J. R. Thomas’s solo were painstaking, and once or twice more effective than usual with our stock-singers of the male parts. The voices of a choir of boys came in cheeringly and enthustically in various good portions of the programme, the whole of which was commendably, if not grandly done. The Trinity Festival has thus been a success precious to the school of oratorio, of which Manager Harrison announces another great festival in June, lasting for a week, and comprising the masterpieces of Haydn and Mendelssohn.”  

Review: New-Yorker Musik-Zeitung, 04 May 1867, 616.

(…) Angela Peralta is from Mexico and Havanna, where she was very popular. It seems as though the same will happen for her here. Her voice is not as fresh anymore; however, it possesses a sweetnes one can easily delight in. Moreover, she sings with taste, understanding and accuracy. “She knows what she wants and she never wants more than what she is capable of”. She is a sophisticated singer who unfortunately came to us so late that we can only enjoy her a few times. The rest of the female ensemble of the Italian opera is less appealing. Kellogg is a fine artist, yet she has a monotone style that is tiring. She has not progressed and it is time for her to sing in front of a different audience. (…)

Peralta has appeared three times in the “Nachtwandlerin”, the “Puritaner” and “Lucia”. She seems to like Bellini’s operas. It is more challenging to sing Bellini than for example Verdi. She deserves an honorable place among contemporary singers.