Music In The Shadow Of Ground Zero

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2015090820150912 (R4)

The story of two New York churches that, despite being a stone's throw from the twin towers, survived 9/11 and are now healing the community with a unique programme of music.

'People stumble on Trinity. A lot of them don't realise it's a church, they think it's a museum. And when they hear the music we offer they are shocked. I take it for granted because that's what Trinity stands for.'

(Cynthia Motten, Trinity parishioner for 40 years)

Historic Trinity Church, Wall St is only a stone's throw from Ground Zero and has turned itself into a mini-Lincoln Centre, hosting some of the best classical and contemporary music concerts in America. The church is said to be the world's richest Anglican parish - thanks to a gift of Manhattan farmland, donated in 1705 by Queen Anne, and now prime real estate. This year it's investing $2.9m in its music programme.

In the shadow of Ground Zero, New Yorkers can listen to Bach's Cantatas in their lunch break, performed by Trinity's own Baroque orchestra, or go to concerts by the church's contemporary music ensemble. The church has had jazz and hip hop masses and pushed aside the pews to host a reggae party.

Radio 4 visits the church, and its sister chapel St Paul's, during a special week of music marking 150 years since the abolition of slavery, honouring the power of black music in America featuring special guest Bobby McFerrin.

Julian Wachner, Trinity's Grammy-nominated winning music director, says: "There are people who come to St Paul's to remember someone close who was lost in the towers, and they go to the churchyard - think of the ashes and what fell on that space - and the music heals."

Producer: Eve Streeter

A Greenpoint production for BBC Radio 4.

In the shadow of Ground Zero, New Yorkers can listen to Bach's Cantatas in their lunch break, performed by Trinity's own Baroque orchestra, or go to concerts by the church's contemporary music ensemble. The church has had jazz and hip hop masses and pushed aside the pews to host a reggae party, while Trinity's choir won the 2015 Pulitzer prize for music.

Julian Wachner, Trinity's Grammy-award winning music director, says: "There are people who come to St Paul's to remember someone close who was lost in the towers, and they go to the churchyard - think of the ashes and what fell on that space - and the music heals."