Be a Judge In The unofficial ‘Battle of the Choirs and Organists’ – New York

Within just a few blocks, three of the city’s most active churches offer music events, often free of charge. There’s no real competition here of course, just a blessing for the music-loving public.

The Gothic Revival Grace Church, at the corner of Broadway and 11th Street, was built in 1843 by James Renwick Jr, later the architect of St Patrick’s Cathedral uptown. The Episcopalian church is a national landmark – free tours take place Sundays at 1pm. But it’s the music that makes Grace a draw for New Yorkers. It’s famous for its men and boys choir, which sings during services and performs concerts in respected venues such as Carnegie Hall. Free organ meditations take place daily at noon. For a full music schedule, see the website.

A few blocks on, is the Church of the Ascension, also Episcopalian, which houses the Manton Memorial Organ, one of the premier organs in the world. The church is home to the Voices of Ascension, the Grammy Award-nominated professional choir who give concerts here, as well as at other venues around the city such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. The beautiful main sanctuary was recently restored; go bask in its pristine beauty for an afternoon.

One block north, the First Presbyterian Church of New York was built in 1846 after originating near Wall Street in 1716. The church is home to the Guilmant Organ School, one of the first accredited schools in America devoted to teaching organists and church musicians. Organ and choral recitals take place here throughout the year.

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