During a memorable PEI snowstorm in February 2013, Mark Shapiro was Guest Conductor for a PEI Symphony performance that featured Rachmaninoff’s Symphony no. 2. Maestro Shapiro became Music Director of the PEI Symphony in May 2013.
Versatile conductor Mark Shapiro is one of a handful of artistic leaders in North America to have won a prestigious ASCAP Programming Award four times, achieving the unique distinction of winning such an award with more than one ensemble. His work has been praised by the New York Times for its “virtuosity and assurance,” which also remarked on its “uncommon polish,” and characterized by the New Jersey Star-Ledger as “erudite and far-reaching.” He is widely recognized as an imaginative, passionate, and humorous interpreter, communicator and advocate.
Maestro Shapiro continues as a principal guest conductor of the chamber orchestra Nova Sinfonia in Halifax, performing symphonies of Brahms and Tchaikovsky as well as other works. He led the Bridgeport Symphony in a concert featuring Metropolitan Opera soprano Harolyn Blackwell; for a number of seasons he served as a cover conductor for the Symphony’s recently retired Music Director Gustav Meier, who was among his principal teachers.
Recent opera engagements have included a double bill of operas by Britten and Vaughan Williams with Juilliard Vocal Arts, for whom he previously conducted Poulenc’s comic opera Les mamelles de Tirésias. Other highlights include Paul Crabtree’s new opera The Ghost Train for Carolina Coast Chamber Festival; the staged premiere of Ben Yarmolinsky’s Clarence & Anita, about the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, with Underworld Opera in New York, and Bizet’s Les pecheurs de perles and Rossini’s Il barbiere de Siviglia in Vermont. He has conducted several times for American Opera Projects, most recently at the Rubin Museum in New York, and the Center for Contemporary Opera.
In 2011, Maestro Shapiro was appointed the seventh Music Director of The Cecilia Chorus of New York, one of New York City’s longest-established oratorio societies, which offers an annual subscription series in Carnegie Hall. Under his leadership, The Cecilia Chorus presented its first ever work that had been commissioned for Carnegie Hall, and presented historic revivals by Peter Mennin and Dame Ethel Smyth; and the Cecilia Chorus was awarded third place in the American Prize for Performance.
Maestro Shapiro is currently in his twenty-third season as Artistic Director of Cantori New York, and in 2012 completed his twenty-one year tenure with the Red Bank, New Jersey-based Monmouth Civic Chorus. Under his baton, these groups have won local and national recognition both for their programming and for the artistry of their performances. Cantori New York as repeatedly won recognition from The American Prize in Choral Performance. In September 2013, Cantori and Maestro Shapiro traveled to Marseille, where Cantori was invited to participate in the city-wide festival “20 lieux sur la mer” in celebration of Marseille’s selection as 2013 European Cultural Capital.
With Cantori New York, Maestro Shapiro has conducted over 160 national, local and world premieres by an impressive roster of international composers, including Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Jacques Bank, Pascal Dusapin, Maurice Ohana, Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür, and Gottfried von Einem. Cantori has released four commercial recordings, on the Albany, Arsis, Newport Classics, and PGM labels. The group’s recording of Frank Martin’s oratorio Le vin herbé was an Opera News Editor’s Choice. Cantori has appeared at Zankel Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, and at Avery Fisher Hall and the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center; distinguished presenters have included Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series, Music at the Anthology, Gotham Early Music Series, Chelsea Music Festival, Teatro Grattacielo, and World Financial Center Arts&Events. In the inaugural season of Zankel Hall, Maestro Shapiro prepared Cantori for a performance with Michael Tilson Thomas. Cantori’s many distinguished artistic partners have included actor Kathleen Chalfant, mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke, the Cassatt String Quartet, the Prism Saxophone Quartet, and marimbist Makoto Nakura.
Maestro Shapiro’s concerts with the Monmouth Civic Chorus encompassed major works for chorus and orchestra including the Verdi Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, and the Sea Symphony of Vaughan Williams. The group has also ventured further afield for Stravinsky’s Les Noces and Szymanowki’s Stabat Mater, and offered noted revivals of the Mass in D by Dame Ethel Smyth and Peter Mennin’s Symphony no. 4, among many others. A highlight was the American premiere of Sphaera by the up-and-coming French composer Guillaume Connesson, which was supported by the French American Cultural Exchange.
Frequently in demand as a choral consultant, Maestro Shapiro was recently appointed to the advisory panel of a new national initiative, the Ann Stookey Fund for New Music. He was invited to Austin by the Grammy-nominated ensemble Conspirare to lead workshops and conduct Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man as part of a regional festival presented under the aegis of the National Endowment for the Arts. He led a ten-day workshop at the triennial Choralies festival in Vaison-la-Romaine, France, which culminated in a sold-out performance of a version of Handel’s Saul in the 5000-seat Roman amphitheater.
Maestro Shapiro has been heard on PBS, conducting the soundtrack for Ric Burns’ special on New York City, as well as on radio stations WQXR and WNYC, and Sirius Satellite Radio, where he was interviewed by Robert Aubrey Davis. He was an invited conductor in the inaugural Sing of the New York Choral Consortium, and was for many years a conductor at the National Choral Council’s annual Messiah Sing-In at Avery Fisher Hall. He was a guest conductor for Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum, and for the New York Art Ensemble at Merkin Hall. His recording of Michael Dellaira’s opera Chéri, featuring Marni Nixon (the voice of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady) was released on Albany Records.
Maestro Shapiro is Assistant Professor of Music at LIU Post, where he teaches music theory, music appreciation and conducting, and directs several ensembles. A long-time member of the faculty of Mannes College the New School for Music, Maestro Shapiro is also Director of the Conducting Program at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris.
Maestro Shapiro lectures frequently about music. Recent venues have included New York’s Harmonie Club and the Tilles Center on Long Island. Maestro Shapiro maintains a sideline as a narrator for orchestral performances, including Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf; he has also narrated a concert performance of Verdi’s Aida by the Bridgeport Symphony. Maestro Shapiro enjoys lecturing on Music and Mind, and has taught courses in this subject at the New School in New York.
“Adventurous programming, appealing music” The New York Times
“Under his baton there was no problem that did not have a solution” The New Jersey Star-Ledger
“Thrilling” The Ashbury Park Press