February 2019 Tour Acclaim

02.21.19
New York Polyphony

“Early music for vocal chamber groups is trending, and with good reason. Take New York Polyphony, the impressive quartet that performed for UCSB Arts & Lectures’ Up Close and Musical series at the Music Academy’s Hahn Hall last Wednesday. Not only do Geoffrey Williams (countertenor), Steven Caldicott Wilson (tenor), Christopher Dylan Herbert (baritone), and Craig Phillips (bass) have the discipline and scholarly passion to perform 16th-century music at the highest possible level, but they also have the imagination to connect that music to the 21st century in unique and compelling ways…The opening set served as an extended introduction to the overall strength and memorable individuality of these men’s voices. If you’ve never heard this music sung by a quartet before, it is, at least when New York Polyphony does it, a revelation.

The group opened the second half with a remarkable work by another relatively young composer, Gregory Brown. His Missa Charles Darwin was composed for the group and was first suggested to the composer by bass Craig Phillips, who drafted the libretto from the writings of the great naturalist Charles Darwin…The group delivered this complex mixture of ideas and music with total conviction, and they followed it with four exquisite songs, including a special treat chosen specifically for the Santa Barbara audience, “The Dying Californian.””

Santa Barbara Independent

“This charming male foursome specializes in 15th- and 16th-century Renaissance polyphony, frequenting composers with strange names and music relatively rarely heard in recent centuries…The group’s preparation was superb, and the concert clocked in at just over an hour, sending the audience into the chaotic, Vegas-ish Saturday-night Times Square with some unusually direct, even penetrating emotional statements…New York Polyphony acts like a choir but isn’t one: it’s four men, sounding like more than that thanks to the warm, resonant acoustic of St. Mary of the Virgin, the venue where the group was born. Their performances are analogous to freshly cleaned frescos.”

David Patrick Stearns for Arts Journal