Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space: Saint Ignatius Loyola Church, Upper East Side, Mahattan

This past weekend we went with friends to the Upper East Side of Manhattan to The Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola, located at 980 Park Avenue at 84 Street, to attend one of its highly acclaimed "Sacred Music in a Sacred Space" concerts, now in its 20th year.

The Christmastime concerts in the concert schedule are very popular, and usually become sell outs very quickly as they are this year, but there are other events still available for later winter and spring of 2009.

The Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola has been ministering to residents of Manhattan since 1851. The church was designed in 1898 by the prominent architectural firm of Schickel and Ditmars, and was declared a Landmark of the City of New York in 1969. Entrusted in 1866 to the administration of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius Loyola Parish today continues to be staffed by Jesuit priests and lay men and women.

The Sacred Music in a Sacred Space director is Kent Tritle, one of America’s leading choral conductors and organists. The program we attended was called "Fantasia on Christmas Carols."

Information from the web site:

"A New York City holiday tradition! This year we celebrate the Christmas Carol with Vaughan Williams’ holiday classics Fantasia on “Greensleeves” and Fantasia on Christmas Carols and James Bassi’s Carol Symphony, a joyful setting of Ukrainian, Irish and English carols.
All this, plus carol favorites, for all to sing – these concerts are a joyous way to revel in the Christmas season!"

A biography about Saint Ignatius Loyola can be read on the church's website.

The church is absolutely stunning in design and architecture and is renowned for its acoustics.

It comfortably seats 1,200, but has been known to accommodate more for its very special events and concerts.

The church is composed in Baroque fashion, of polished pink granite columns, marble pilasters, supporting the arches of the side aisles, and European and African marbles. The mosaics are made with both Tiffany Glass' famous delicate opalescent Favrile glass, and bold Venetian glass.

The marble mosaic Stations of the Cross form the panels which comprise the majority of the wall space in the church. These murals were designed by Professor Paoletti for Salviati & Company of Venice.

A close up of one station mosaics (all photos can be clicked on to enlarge):

An extensive description of the church's history and beautiful architecture can be read on its website.

The church's Mander Pipe Organ is world renown. The new organ’s debut was on April 27, 1993, and it is 45 feet tall, weighs 30 tons, and consists of 5,000 pipes. It can be heard on a dozen CD recordings that feature world renowned ensembles. As the largest tracker-action pipe organ in the New York Metropolitan area, it holds special appeal for organists and lovers of organ music.
The organist of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Olivier Latry, personally chose the organ and church as the American site for his acclaimed cycles of Messian’s complete organ works in 2000, along with Notre Dame and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

More information about the the magnificent organ can be read here.

Photos above and below: the orchestra and choir gathered on the altar to begin the concert. It was wonderful evening of both listening to, and joining in the singing, of many familiar traditional carols and unique and modern carols.

After the concert our group went to Vicino Firenze, an Italian restaurant at
1586 2nd Ave, known for its great food, gracious staff, soft lighting and fresh flowers.

Dinner was relaxed and delicious. Instead of the usual butter or olive oil they offer a trio of authentic Parmesan cheese, oil cured olives, and homemade sun dried tomato butter with the bread basket, and everyone was very please with the entrees they ordered. You can read the restaurant's dinner menu here.
Many of us had a slice of this scrumptious "President's Cake" for dessert!

A close up of some of the tablescape's pretty dishes, which had different hand painted scenes of Florence, Italy on them.

The restaurant was beautifully decorated for Christmas with a live tree and potted poinsettia plants, and live orchid plants were on every table.

It was a wonderful place to dine and I highly recommend it, or its companion restaurant called "Firenze," a few doors away.

It's getting close to Christmas and I have been busy baking. Next blog I'll share some of my favorite cookie recipes!


Vee said...

Good to know that the apron is getting a workout!

Saint Ignatius Loyola Church is exquisite to say the least. I will be back one day when I have more time to check out your links on it. I was intrigued by Christ's halo as it seemed to truly glow. Perhaps it's made of gold.

Your dinner out looked marvelous, too. What a fun evening you must have enjoyed!

The Quintessential Magpie said...


This evening looked lovely from start to finish. Loved all of the pictures of that amazing church and also of that beautifully appointed table! NYC is THE BEST!

Thanks for sharing this with us. Such a fun way to break in my afternoon duties...


Sheila :-)

Bo said...

Hi Pat...the music & the photos have been marvelous...what a glorious place to be...Now on to that know I'd give anything to have some dishes like those!!! I can't believe they use something that exquisite in a commercial setting...I think a toadstool would be delicious served on dinnerware like that!
;-) Bo

Unknown said...

Hi Pat,
This church is beautiful! I really enjoyed your comments on it.

Looks like you all had a wonderful time-the restaurant pictures are lovely too!

Tara said...

Hi Pat

We were in Manhattan on the same night--only I was moving my son from one dorm apartment to the other! Your trip was much moreexciting! And, of course, I'll keep this restaurant in mind!

PS--please email me your address, I have something for your little Leo!

Strider said...

Beautiful stained glass and pipes!!! I bet you can't wait to hold Leo!!! Blessings and Merry Christmas. Strider

Willow said...

What a wonderful cathedral! It truly deserves to be a national treasure. The music sounds like a dream concert!

Jojo said...

It may be a while before I get back to NY but I can't wait to visit the church. How beautiful.

Thanks for the restaurant recommendation. I loved the tablescape.

Lorrie said...

What a wonderful evening. I loved seeing Saint Ignatius Church, it's just lovely and dinner was out of this world!

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

What a beautiful church! That dinner table looked fabulous. I'll bet you had so much fun. It's so great that you guys get together with friends and do such fun things. Thanks for sharing. The sidebar picture of Leo is so adorable.

Kathy said...

Wow! What beautiful pictures. Just awesome. Thank you so much for sharing them.

steviewren said...

Wow Pat, that sounds like an absolute marvelous evening! The musical selection, the baroque setting and then that beautiful restaurant and food must have been so much fun to share with your friends. Your pictures were great.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I am hurriedly checking blogs while gingersnaps are baking.

This is such a beautiful post, and a truly gorgeous church. Indeed a sacred space.

And, the restaurant was so festive. I adored those plates. A perfect holiday evening.

Unknown said...

Another beautiful post Pat and I'd love to go there one day, those pipe organs are magnificent. Happy weekend Pat and much blessings for the upcoming Christmas :D

The Berry's Patch said...

Wow, what a beautiful church. You're right, you have lots of pictures of New York. I want to go back. It's such a beautiful city with such great architecture.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Stunning church! I have to say...NYC has some of the best churches and temples I've ever seen. And that restaurant looks lovely, too. What a nice night out!

Kathy said...

Incredible Pat, what a beautiful evening you had, hugs, Kathy.

Just A Girl said...

What an amazing structure! I just love architecture especially the old churches. I think a person could probably spend all day there and never take in all the details. Thanks for the wonderful tour.

xo Cori

Rue said...

Good morning Pat :)

That church is so beautiful! The restaurant looks wonderful too and the food sounds even better ;)

Off to read more....