Dr Gwendolyn Toth, Organist & Choirmaster and Director of Music
Recognized as one of America’s leading performers on early keyboard instruments, Dr Toth performs with equal ease on the organ, harpsichord, and fortepiano. Indeed, the New York Times have remarked that “her interpretive skills are sensitive and intelligent, and she clearly has a gift for program conceptualization.” As a soloist on historical organs, Dr Toth has performed and recorded on many of the great Renaissance and Baroque instruments of Europe, including the 1434 organ in Sion, Switzerland; the 15th-century organ in Oosthuizen, Netherlands; the 1509 organ in Trevi, Italy; the 1531 organ in Krewerd, Netherlands; the 1649 organ in Zeerijp, Netherlands; the 1655 organ in the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam; the 1696 Arp Schnitger organ in Noordbroek, Netherlands; and the 1714 organ in St. Michael’s Church, Vienna.
Dr Toth is perhaps best known to us at Saint Ignatius of Antioch as the founder and artistic director of the acclaimed period instrument ensemble ARTEK, which most recently participated this past May in our Saint Ignatius at 150: a Festival of Early Music. Under her direction ARTEK performs regularly here in New York (often at Saint Ignatius) and has toured extensively in the United States and abroad. Their commercial recordings include Monteverdi’s opera L’Orfeo, Monteverdi: The Complete Madrigals, Book 5, Monteverdi: Complete Madrigals, Book 7, and Soli Deo Gloria: Cantatas of Johann Rosenmüller.
Dr Toth received her undergraduate degree (“cum laude”) from Middlebury College and an M.A. in composition from City College of the City University of New York. She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts in organ from the Yale University School of Music, and is currently Adjunct Professor of Historical Performance Practice at the Graduate Center, City University of New York and Orchestra Conductor at Manhattan College in Riverdale. She taught previously at Rutgers University, Barnard College, Mount Holyoke College, and Mannes College of Music, among others.
From 2008 until 2022 she was Music Director at Immanuel Lutheran Church on East 88th Street, and from 1989-2008 was Organist and Choral Director at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street.
Dr Toth is married to Dongsok Shin, harpsichordist of Rebel Baroque Ensemble, harpsichord tuner for the Metropolitan Opera and the Flint Collection of antique harpsichords, and an in-demand audio-video engineer. They have three children living in Brooklyn, Seattle, and Ireland, and two cats here on the Upper West Side.
You can listen to a number of Dr Toth’s organ performances on YouTube:
Jesu wollst uns weisen by Heinrich Scheidemann playing the Meister Harmannus organ, built in 1457 in the village church in Rysum, Germany
A canzona by Giovanni Gabrielli on the 1651 organ in the Jakobuskerk, Zeerijp, The Netherlands
Christ ist erstanden from the Buxheimer Orgelbuch on the ca. 1521 organ in Oosthuizen, The Netherlands
You can also listen to ARTEK perform Johann Rosenmüller’s “Ascendit Christus in altum” here at Saint Ignatius of Antioch
The Choir of Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church
Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church is proud to announce its professional choir, Fall 2022: Audrey Fernandez-Fraser, soprano; Aaron Lauber, countertenor; Richard Pittsinger, tenor; Bennett Mahler, baritone; and Peter Becker, bass. At each service, the Choir sings the traditional Gregorian chant propers as well as a polyphonic setting of the Ordinary of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei) and anthem, drawn from the great tradition of composers such as Lassus, Byrd, Monteverdi, Josquin, Hassler, and Victoria.
Audrey Fernandez-Fraser, soprano, is a graduate of the Yale Divinity School and Institute of Sacred Music in 2016. She has recorded Renaissance motets and original works with composer Erik-Peter Mortensen and sang Bach’s solo cantata BWV 51 with Gamut Bach Ensemble, in a concert of Bach cantatas offered through the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. In 2019 Ms. Fernandez-Fraser sang the role of Guardian Angel in Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s sacred opera, Rappresentatione di anima e di corpo directed by Balint Karosi at St. Peter’s Church in NYC. She also runs a therapeutic coaching site, The Sensitive Musician, where she offers psychospiritual support to people with like-hearted vocations.
Aaron Lauber, countertenor, is a musician, educator, healthcare and social service administrator, counselor and psychotherapist. In addition to working with clients in his private practice, he has sung in the professional choir at Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church for sixteen years and is an adjunct instructor in the online counseling program at NYU’s Steinhardt School. He has also taught as an adjunct in the graduate counseling program at Hunter College–CUNY.
Richard Pittsinger, tenor, began as a treble at St. Thomas Choir School in New York, from 4th through 8th grade. In his final year, he was Head Chorister and received the T. Tertius Noble Award, upon graduation, for outstanding musical contribution. At St. Thomas, he recorded with conductor John Scott and the St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra as the soprano soloist in Faure’s Requiem. Currently a masters’ student at the Juilliard School, he appeared last season with Juilliard415 in the title role of Luigi Rossi’s Orfeo and as the tenor soloist in Bach’s B Minor Mass, as well as singing the role of Tempo in Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disganno.
Bennett Mahler is a violist, violinist, baritone, and international civil servant from New York. He holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Viola and Early Music Performance from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and is currently completing a Diploma in Procurement and Supply from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply in the United Kingdom. Mr. Mahler developed an interest in chant, polyphony, and the Anglo-Catholic Tradition while singing at St. John the Evangelist in Montreal, and is very excited to now be joining the choir at St. Ignatius of Antioch.
Bass Peter Becker performs repertoire ranging from medieval to contemporary, both sacred and secular. A lifelong chorister, he has participated in Divine Service as a treble in Mumbai and Washington DC; as a countertenor in Washington Cathedral, Magdalen College, Oxford, and St. Thomas Fifth Avenue; and as a baritone/bass chorister and soloist in many other sacred spaces. He is a member of Hudson Shad, a vocal quintet, and ARTEK early music ensemble. Guest appearances include Tafelmusik, Smithsonian Chamber Players, Magnificat, the Newberry Consort, Folger Consort, and Portland Baroque, and festivals including Spoleto (Italy and USA), Caramoor, Ravinia, Aldeburgh, Utrecht, Hong Kong, Ravenna, Jerusalem, Macao, Miyazaki, and Saratoga.
Eddie Zheng, Artist-In-Residence
Eddie Zheng came to Saint Ignatius of Antioch as Artist in Residence in September 2021. A native of New York City, is master’s degree student of Paul Jacobs at the Juilliard School. With a focus on lyrical phrasing and articulate touch combined with thoughtful programming and spoken notes, Eddie has performed in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Montreal, and Beijing, where he has helped new audiences in China discover the organ.
Eddie’s performances at the 2018 Schweitzer Competition and the 2019 Quimby Competition led to first place awards and his engagement as Artist-in-Residence at Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church, New York. He was recently appointed as Organ Associate at First Presbyterian Church Greenwich in Connecticut, where he encourages wider musical appreciation through service playing and youth involvement.
Having spent summers in the Catskills, Eddie created the ‘Organ Music in the Catskills’ series in 2021, performing recitals to enthusiastic local audiences. When not playing organ, Eddie loves motorcycles, symphonies, and espresso.