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Special Reports

MA Top 30 Professional of the Year: Julian Wachner

December 4, 2018 | By Susan Brodie

Director of Music and Arts
Trinity Wall Street
Composer

In 2010, when Julian Wachner was appointed to his current position at the historic Trinity Wall Street (founded 1697), the Financial District was still recovering from the devastating effects of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. In the intervening eight years he has had an outsize impact on New York’s musical life. Wachner oversees an annual season of hundreds of events as curator, conductor, composer, organist, and sometimes all of the above simultaneously. In 2016, he completed the first cycle of his signature project Bach at One, presenting all the Bach cantatas; this season he has expanded the series into Bach + One, pairing one work by the master with one or more pieces by other composers. Under his direction, programs are performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, ensembles that he has brought to a new level and are considered by many to be the best of their kind in the city.

His early-music reputation notwithstanding, Wachner is also founding director of the new music orchestra NOVUS NY, which has premiered such works as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angel’s Bone, by Du Yun, and Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves. He also conducted the Grammy-award winning recording of Anthracite Fields by Julia Wolfe (Musical America’s 2019 Composer of the Year) with the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street. With these forces and as a guest conductor, Wachner has led performances around the world, from Honolulu to Utrecht.

He continues to compose, with a large catalog of vocal, orchestral, sacred, and secular works. Among his operas, the most recent is Rev. 23, an eclectic farce about an imagined second Book of Revelations, set to an original libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winner Cerise Lim Jacobs. The piece premiered last season in Boston and finds its way to New York’s Prototype Festival in 2020, another one of Wachner’s myriad musical contributions to the city’s cultural life.


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