What do you know, there is a Roman Catholic parish on Manhattan called Holy Trinity.
I mention this not-so-obscure fact, because there was this really strange little story in the New York Times the other day that opened with this reference:
Owen Burdick, the organist and music director at Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan, who significantly improved its musical offerings and became a major fixture on the early-music scene, abruptly left his job on Monday after 17 years.
The church, one of the city’s wealthiest and most prominent religious institutions, did not release the news publicly until asked about Mr. Burdick’s departure by a reporter on Friday.
When you are dealing with common church names — like Holy Trinity — journalists are supposed to put the name of the denomination in the first reference so that readers will not be confused. Right?
Now, I realize that, when it comes to life in certain circles in New York City, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church has more money and power than God. Most Times readers in that zip code would get the reference, I would assume. However, I am sure that this particular newspaper has readers in other parts of the country who care about music and/or religion.
Meanwhile, there is the story itself — which is built on the assumption that the director of music at this parish is a major figure in the local arts scene. I do not doubt that. However, might the director of music also have something to do with worship? With the content of the parish’s services? The story is completely, utterly silent on this.
This is strange, since Trinity Episcopal has been known to make news with worship as well as with its money. Was Burdick, for example, part of the famous “clown Mass” at this church? (Does anyone know if this famous YouTube clip is from Trinity? I cannot recognize the sanctuary.)
But the article treats this as a mystery involving an employee at an arts institution, with just a hint that there might be something strange going on. And there is my point. Is the something strange — the word “abruptly” is in the lede, after all — financial, artistic, legal or, heaven forbid, religious?
There is no way to know, since the story does not offer a clue.
Mr. Burdick’s departure comes as he and the Trinity Choir were preparing for a Jan. 29 performance of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers with the Rebel Baroque Orchestra. The choir and orchestra have collaborated on a number of well-reviewed early-music performances, including an annual “Messiah” in December. …
A separate parish choir provides music for services and church events. WQXR-FM, the radio station owned by The New York Times Company, broadcasts some of the choir’s performances.
So the “Trinity Choir” is a different choir than the “parish choir” that leads worship? So the concerts are not “church events,” or are the worship services not the same as the “church events”?
Very confusing. Maybe this isn’t a religion story at all. If so, that would really be strange.