Henry Stephen Cutler
4 May 2016
“Master Toedt, the famous boy soprano, sings Mendelssohn’s great Aria, “Hear ye Israel,” at the Choral Festivals, May 15 and 17.”
“The Odell Organ will be played by Messrs. Cutler and Morgan.”
Cutler “will deliver a brief and interesting discourse upon the Cathedrals of England, interspersed with choral illustrations of music of the various periods. . . . The vocal department will be sustained by one hundred male voices, fifty boys and fifty men. Dr. Cutler has devoted several months to the thorough training of these boys; he has selected the most lovely voices to be found, and among them are boys of rare musical talent, who will sing solos, trios and quartets selected from the great masters of the Oratorio, Handel, Mendelssohn, &c.”
“A most interesting series of concerts, illustrating the Cathedral music of the Church of England, and consequently of the Protestant Episcopal Church here, will be given at Irving Hall on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, the present week. Dr. Cutler delivers an explanatory lecture on the subject, similar to that which to years since he gave to the congregation of Trinity Church. The choir consists of upward of one hundred voices, men and boys, many of them the best that are known.”
“The Great Choral Festival is to be held at Irving Hall on Tuesday and Thursday evenings next, under the direction of Dr. Cutler, promises to be highly meritorious as regards the music.”
“The Trinity Choral Festivals of 1864 will be reproduced, in their essential features, at Irving Hall, this evening. A great variety of choral illustrations of English Cathedral music will be given by a very large choir of male voices.”
“One of the grandest and most soul-stirring musical entertainments given this season in the metropolis was presented to a large and critical audience last night at Irving Hall. A number of selections from Mendelssohn’s Elijah constituted one part of the programme. Master Toedt’s rendering of the grand air ‘Hear ye, Israel,’ was admirable in every respect. The choruses, conducted by Mr. George W. Morgan, were given with a precision and expression such as no chorus of mixed voices could supply. Those sixty boy sopranos with young, clear, fresh and pure voices, supported by forty tenors and basses and accompanied by Dr. Cutler on the organ, and Messrs. Gilder and Johnston on the two grand pianos, should be heard by all lovers of music in this city in the wonderful chorus, ‘Thanks be to God; He loveth the thirsty land.’ The words came forth from the hundred voices as distinct as if from one; not the slightest shade of expression was wanting, and, above all, at every pause no one could detect a want of unity or precision. It seemed as if a polyphonic chord was struck on some mighty instrument by one master hand. The dialogue between Elijah and the youth was sung by Mr. George Aiken, Basso, and Master Raeburn. The immortal composer, had he been present last night, would have been much better pleased with Dr. Cutler’s vocalists than he was at the rehearsals of the Oratorio at Exeter Hall, where a most unruly and inefficient chorus almost drove him mad. The chorus at Irving Hall had no sluggish interpreters among them. Too much of the vocal music we hear in New York is only mechanically artistic, but this chorus made their hearers feel the spirit of Mendelssohn. Dr. Cutler deserves the utmost praise for the efficiency of his antiphonal choir. It is a pity that there can be only two such performances given this season. They should be continued every night during the present or following week, as when their merits are once known to the music-loving public Irving Hall will not be able to hold the audiences seeking admission to them.”
“Dr. Cutler’s first lecture on the ‘Cathedrals of England,’ describing those venerable edifices and illustrating the sublime music performed therein with a choir of one hundred voices, took place at Irving Hall on Monday evening. The effect of the choral illustrations was most surprising. We doubt if anything equal to it has ever before been heard in this City. The precision, power and exquisite quality of the voices—boys and men—cannot be exaggerated. To hear such a choir is worth any sacrifice of time and money. We have had no pleasure so great this season as that which we derived from the superb performance of the pieces on Monday night.”
“During the past week, Dr. Cutler gave, on three several occasions, a lecture in Irving Hall on ‘The Cathedrals of England.’ The lecture was interspersed with solos, concerted pieces, and choruses, performed by boys, pupils of Dr. Cutler, assisted by several amateur tenors and basses.
We cannot say that the historical and aesthetic value of the lecture was great; probably want of time compelled the lecturer to treat his subject in so aphoristic a manner, and merely to touch on its principal points . . .What we expected, from a Doctor of Music, and what we missed in his Lecture, was a more consequent account of church music, as performed in English Cathedrals; information regarding those musicians who have had an especial influence on such music, and their works; with comparisons as so the degrees to which such men have profaned or ennobled the service and so on. But all this was only touched upon in a passing manner, and the subject twisted in order to bring in, more of less happily, the different musical selections. The descriptions of the fugue and canon might also have been dispensed with; they were not calculated to enlighten an audience on the subject. Dr. Cutler, who has evidently studied English Church Music as a specialty, and who displays so much true zeal for genuine sacred music, certainly possesses knowledge and material enough to render his future lectures of more historic and aesthetic interest; and, in the interest of art, we trust he will make use of his material.
So far as regards the instruction of his boy singers, Dr. Cutler deserves the highest credit. The choruses were sung with precision, correct intonation and good taste. Also the chorals in all ecclesiastical keys were given with great certainty. If the solos were less grateful to a musical ear, it was only owing to a want of agreeable quality of tone in the voices themselves; for Dr. Cutler is undoubtedly able to cultivate this kind of voice, so far as it is possible to do so. The masterly organ playing of Mr. G.W. Morgan added much to the interest of the entertainments, which we are happy to say, have been materially successful.”