Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wall Street Christmas Tree & the Voices of the Ascension

I have yet to see the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree this year, but I hope to see it next weekend. One tree I did see, which is a little less known but also very beautiful, is on Broad Street between Wall Street and Exchange Place in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

Do you remember my recent blog post about Federal Hall? This is the view that the Federal Hall statue of George Washington has of the tree all season! I think he would have been quite pleased to see Christmas honored in this way.

There has been a Christmas tree outside the New York Stock Exchange since 1923, and the lighting ceremony is believed to be the city's oldest. This year’s NYSE Christmas tree is a 65’ high, 34’ wide Norway Spruce which hails from Ramapo, New York. Situated in front of the NYSE facade, the tree is decorated with 10,000 multi-colored lights, 250 multi-colored balls with the "NYSE Euronext" logo and a 6’ star on top, all supported on a 8’ x 10’ base fashioned as a gift box.

It certainly is beautiful viewed from any direction! (all photos will enlarge when clicked on)

It was wonderful to stand right under the tree and look up at all the large illuminated ornaments.

New York City is a wonderful place to visit during the holidays because no matter where you go there are many holiday lights and decorations.

This is Zuccotti Park,which is across from the Ground Zero construction site. It looked very magical and peaceful with all its white lights twinkling at dusk.

Even the old gravestones in Trinity Church were dressed with Christmas wreaths.

Almost every office building lobby has a Christmas tree. This is one that was inside a building I passed on Water Street. I took the photo through the window.

Last year we went with friends to a very beautiful choral musical production called "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" at Saint Ignatius Loyola Church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
This year we attended a "Candlelight Christmas Concert" at The Church of the Ascension, located on Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan.

It was a performance by The Voices of the Ascension chorus and orchestra. They are one of the world's premier professional choral ensembles, with a distinctive artistic command of music from all periods and styles. They are in their 20th season under Artistic Director and Conductor Dennis Keene. The ensemble's concerts and recordings have received critical acclaim, and their latest CD "Song of the Stars" received a Grammy Nomination! You can listen to a sample of a selection of their recordings at this link.

The Episcopal Church of the Ascension was founded in 1827, when New York was a city of only about two hundred thousand people. The present edifice at Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street is one of the earliest churches designed by the English-born architect Richard Upjohn, who was working on plans for Trinity Church located on Wall Street, at the same time. The cornerstone was laid in 1840 and the church was consecrated on November 5, 1841. Soon after the church's completion President John Tyler, the first President to get married in office, chose the church as the location to wed Julia Gardiner in 1844. In 1987, the church was declared a National Historic Landmark.

The beautiful painting of "The Ascension of Our Lord" above the main altar is the work of John LaFarge. It was executed on canvas in place and completed in 1888. It is considered one of the finest murals of sacred art in America.
The church will soon be closed briefly for extensive repairs as they will be replacing their organ with one constructed by the great French builder, Pascal Quoirin. The church web site says that it will be one of the premier organs in the world and possibly the finest such instrument in America!

A view of the wood plank ceiling. The exterior brownstone structure has some age related cracks and there has been some rain damage to the interior walls, so before the new organ will be installed the church will do repairs and needed restoration.

One of the beautiful stained glass memorial windows near where we were seated.

The pews are cushioned in red velvet and each pew has an ornate door which opens and closes. Some of the pews in the church were private at one time, and they still have inscribed name plates attached to them. Many such prominent New Yorkers as August Belmont, William B. Astor, Frederick de Peyster and William C. Rhinelander have been parishioners.

When the musical production began the church lights were dimmed, and the flickering light from the multitude of candelabras gave a soft glow to the church and the chorus.

The combination of the soft light and the exquisite harmonic voices singing traditional Christmas carols and liturgical selections was a thrilling experience! I felt as if I were being transported up into heaven by angels!
A surprise guest artist who sang two solos that evening was the baritone Edward Parks, who makes his Metropolitan Opera debut this season as Fiorello in Il Barbiere de Siviglia. One of the selections he sang was the very lively and enjoyable aria "Largo al Factotum."

All in all it was a wonderful way to spend an evening in New York City and a prefect way to celebrate the Christmas season in Lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village. If you visit NYC do try to find a chorus production that take place in many of the churches in the city year round, and if you visit during the Christmas season try to visit the Christmas trees placed in different locations as you may be pleasantly surprised!

I am linking this post to Susan's blog A Southern Daydreamer "Outdoor Wednesday" event.. Please visit Susan's blog to see links to blogs with interesting and beautiful outdoor events.

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Kat Mortensen said...

My best wishes to you and your family for a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!


Grace said...

I so enjoy reading your blog. Even though I am in NY also I love to see a different view and all the history behind it! I just cant get enough of seeing it all. Hugs Grace

Jenny said...

Love Zucotti park. This is a beautiful post, Pat. Thank you for sharing.

pam said...

What a wonderful post...such a gorgeous church. Praying all His best blessings for you this holiday season! So glad I found your blog to peek into the wonderful world of NYC!

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Now you see, I didn't even know there was a tree down there! I'm still trying to make it to the Rockefeller one...you know, that one that is BLOCKS AWAY from my office?! Ugh! Where did the time go this year...

I also love that church on 10th & 5th. I used to work on 11th Street and passed it every day. So lovely and charming.

p.s. Lighthouse painter on my blog -- I will send you an email. I sort of, kind of have his contact info. -- he gave me a business card the other week, and the area code for S.I. is still 212, lol! So yeah; old card, and needless to say no web site. ;-)

My name is Riet said...

What a beautiful post. That tree is enormous and so beautiful with all the coloured lights and ornaments. And also a beautiful church. I love New York.
Happy Holidays.

Sea Witch said...

I adore Trinity Church. One of my favorite spots in the city. Lovely photos you take and I always enjoy your travelogue, it is like being with you as you travel. I miss NYC and feel like I am there everytime I read your posts. Wishing you the best. Sea Witch

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Oh Pat, I am so envious. You are so fortunate to live so close to that beautiful area. I would LOVE the lights and trees all over the city ---and I would ADORE those choral concerts in those old churches.

We hope to go to Knoxville for their midnight Christmas Eve Candlelight and Communion Service at St. John's Cathedral again this year. It is a fabulous service and so VERY meaningful.

Thanks for sharing this beauty with us.
Merry Christmas.

Sara said...

What a beautiful tree! I can't imagine being in NYC and seeing all the beauty at Christmas time! I am so thankful to have you there to share these beautiful photos and your activities throughout the year!

May you have a Blessed Christmas and A wonderful New Year!

Anonymous said...

GORGEOUS!! I'm so glad you take advantage of the wonders of New York City. . . so that we can, too!

Oh my goodness, that tree!

Music is lovely!

Unknown said...

Beautiful post Pat! I envy all that you have available to you in NYC, but don't envy that cold weather!

It has been rather chilly here so far!

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas!

:) Diane

aliceinparis said...

You live in a magical place! On my "life list" is visiting New York at Christmas! I hope to visit at many other times too, but Christmas there looks wonderful!
Love this Braod Street tree, it is very impressive. Also envying you your night at the choral concert:)
I hope you have a marvelous Christmas full of joy and love:) Thanks for your gift of friendship and sharing all that you do:)
xo Shelagh xo

Joanne Kennedy said...

Oh New York at Christmas...what a dream come true. I'm still kicking myself for not going this year but I'm hoping that when Spring comes I'll be happy I waited.

One of the many things I love about the East Coast is all the old big beautiful churches. I tried to see as many as I could on my last trip back there.

Merry Christmas and I wish you and your family a safe and happy New Year.


~Cheryl said...

Your posts just sweep me away! I may never get to experience any of your part of the world, so it's very nice to read about it and see your wonderful photos. Thanks so much, and have a very merry Christmas!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I feel all festive after looking at this post, plus the music just puts you in right in that mood. Merry christmas to you and your family! See you next year!

Lisa's RetroStyle said...

Wow! What an amazing concert that must have been. Merry Christmas Pat!

Light and Voices said...

We would like to wish you a Merry Christmas from our house to your house. I really enjoyed seeing the Wall Street Christmas tree. Wonderful blog!
Joyce M

Unknown said...

the lights at Zuccotti Park are gorgeous, the gravestones are all dressed up, too! thanks for sharing these wonderful photos.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful church Pat. Love the leaded stained glass window especially.

Oh my though -the beazutiful coloured light of the Christmas tree- so magical. Love it!

eileeninmd said...

Very pretty photos of New York and a nice post. Merry Christmas!

Elisa Day said...

Wonderful images. I would love to visit New York. Merry Christmas!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Pat, once again, you awe me with your photos! I'm determined to get to NYC at Christmas and see this glorious sights!

Am sending you much, much love today and wishing you a very Merry Christmas!


Sheila :-)

Hootin Anni said...

The holiday scenes are breathtaking and the interior of the cathedral is just humbling!!

I have a Christmas wish along with my usual Wednesday post today. [the Wednesday issue of posting is below my 'card' posted just for you....]


...for the permalink to my day's post, click here.

GMG said...

Hi Pat! It looks so lovely; I should be in NY now (except for the snow... ;))

Blogtrotter (which has also been at the Brooklyn Museum some years ago...) is waiting for you in London! Enjoy and have a great holiday season!

Just a little something from Judy said...

Physically I did not get to visit New York City this Christmas, but through the skilled lens of your camera...I did. Thank you so much for this beautiful, informative ,and festive holiday tour. It is difficult to believe that man can create such artistry with lights, greens and decorations. Well done!

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

RNSANE said...

Pat, as always, your blog is, for those of us who cannot manage a trip to New York, an incredible treat to the sights at this holiday season. The Christmas trees and the beautiful Trinity Church are such special special treasures to share.
You are such a wonderful hostess for your fair city!

storyteller said...

Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful FESTSIVE holiday views from the other side of the USA. Merry Christmas to you and yours ;-)
Hugs and blessings,
My Outdoor Wednesday

Chubskulit Rose said...

Those street lights are beautiful!

Love the music too!

Please come and see my Outdoor post. Merry Christmas.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

This was so delightful to read, Pat. I have seen the tree at the stock exchange in years past, but I had no idea of how big it really is. Just amazing. The church histories have become a recent fascination as I just finished reading World Without End and Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, and I really loved both of the books. I understand that those books are being filmed as a mini series and can't wait to see them. Wishes for the Merriest Christmas to you and your family, and one of my wishes for the New Year is to meet up with you in the city one day.
♥, Susan

Shellbelle said...

Thank you so much for such a wonderful post and all the history attached to the church. I appreciate the time that goes into this type of post and enjoy reading about historic places in our country.

Merry Christmas Pat to you and yours.

Beverly said...

Another fantastic post, dear Pat. I hope your foot is healing. I am still sore and hobbling from my fall.

I never knew about the tree in front of the NYSE. One of these days I hope to go to the city during the holidays.

And, I would have loved the concert. It must have been heavenly.

Vee said...

Just returning to finish reading your excellent post. I was interrupted yesterday and never got back. I'm running in tight little circles and still trying to move forward...crazy.

Love the theatrical lighting that complements the trees and buildings so well. I did listen to the selection...very soothing. I might nod off if I were to stop by and listen. Heavenly!

Love the new photo of you and Leo. You certainly look like grandmother and son. Yes, you do.

Thank you for all your nice comments...much appreciated...I'm so happy to be back for a while.

Kathy said...

Pat, we are so going to spend a Christmas in New York one year, it's stunning and your post really do a wonderful job promoting your home town. I have not been by it's crazy here but wanted to thank you for your Christmas wishes and wish you and your lovely family a very safe and enjoyable Christmas and a happy New Year, I wish you a speedy recovery too Pat and hope to have more time Jan 2010 to stop by a lot more often as you know I always enjoy my visits so much, have fun, Kathy, Vanni and Stephen xx ps happy 1st birthday to little Leo xx.

Carole Burant said...

I've never been to NYC but after seeing your pictures, I SOOOO want to go, especially at Christmas time! Everything seems so beautifully decorated and I just know I would love it all. Even going into that gorgeous church would be a treat for sure!!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and may all your dreams come true during this magical season! xoxo

Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

Thanks for sharing the photos of NYC. I like all the lights. We went to the top of the empire state building one December. There was someone blowing bubbles. When they floated out into the light they glowed red. Now everytime I go up there, I bring bubbles.

DH and I are going to a seminar in a few weeks to the United Methodist Global Ministeries headquarters on Riverside Drive. To bad it will be after Christmas since we will go to the Riverside church, too.

Happy holidays.

Kat said...

Pat, what a wonderful evening! The tree is beautiful. And the church is truly breathtaking. What a glorious monument to God's grace. I've so enjoyed finding you and your blog this year and the wonderful posts about New York. I feel like I have my own personal tour guide. May you and your family have a joyous and blessed Christmas! Hugs, Kathy

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos of NY city. I could only just admagine being there for the holidays.
Thanks again.

steviewren said...

Pat, the lights, decorations and the music must have been just the thing to put you in the Christmas spirit if you weren't already. Your photos of the inside of the church are spectacular. My favorite feature is the candles and their candelabras. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas this year!

Rattlebridge Farm said...

Pat, what an elegant post. Each photo is magnificent and the accompanying prose is a delight. Hope you have a fine Christmas and New Year.

Willow said...

Thanks for the tours! Merry Christmas to you from Willow!

magicpolaroid said...

my best wishes to you and ur family
buon natale e felice 2010!!

Anonymous said...

Pat, what a lovely holiday tribute to NYC. That Wall street is a beauty! That said, just opped in to wish you and yours a ahppy and healthy holiday! Enjoy!

Oh, BTW, we traded the Melkster for the guy who ave up the grand slam to Johnny Damon in game 7 of the '04 ALCS?? Sorry, do not trust Javier in the AL, much less in NY!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Pat - So many beautiful places to enjoy the Christmas spirit in New York - and so many different ways. My daughter used to sing with the choir at St. Ignatius. It is a gorgeous church.