Mark Shapiro 2011-Present
David Randolph 1965-2010
David L. Buttolph 195?-1965
Hugh Ross 1942-195?
Willard Sektberg 1937-1942
Leon Barzin 1936-1937
Victor Harris 1906-1936
2018 - U.S. premiere of Messe Romane (2014) by Thierry Escaich
2017 - World premiere in Carnegie Hall of A Garden Among the Flames by Zaid Jabri
2017 - World premiere of Oedipus the King by the Brothers Balliett
2016 - World premiere in Carnegie Hall of Der Zippelfagottist by Jonathan Breit
2016 - World premiere of Messiahs: False and True by Rex Isenberg
2014 - World premiere in Carnegie Hall of Credo for a Secular City by Tom Cipullo
2013 - New York premiere in Carnegie Hall of the Mass in D (1891) by Dame Ethel Smyth
2012 - World premiere of the chorus's first-ever commissioned work for a Carnegie Hall performance, Divis Cetera by Raphael Fusco
2006 - Creation of The Second Century Fund
1988 - First appearance as the South Street Seaport's Singing Christmas Tree
1969 - First performance at Carnegie Hall
1965 - Transformation to a mixed chorus begins
1922 - New York premiere of Mahler's Symphony No. 3
1906 - The St. Cecilia Chorus was established
The Cecilia Chorus of New York has been directed by Maestro Mark Shapiro since 2011. Under his dynamic leadership, the chorus is experiencing vigorous artistic and institutional growth, achieving many firsts. In 2012 the chorus premiered its first-ever commissioned work for a Carnegie Hall performance, the cantata An Ode from Horace: Divis Cetera by Raphael Fusco. This milestone led to a second commission, Tom Cipullo’s Credo for a Secular City, which received its world premiere in Carnegie Hall in 2014. Other notable accomplishments include the long-delayed New York premiere in 2013 of the Mass in D by Dame Ethel Smyth, which the composer completed in 1891; and a rare revival of The Christmas Story (1949) by neglected American master composer Peter Mennin, a former president of The Juilliard School. During the 2016-2017 season, the chorus premiered three commissioned works: Jonathan Breit's comic intermezzo Der Zippelfagottist; the musical psycho-thriller Oedipus the King by the Brothers Balliett; and A Garden Among the Flames by Syrian composer Zaid Jabri. Most recently, in March 2018, the chorus presented the U.S. premiere of Messe Romane (2014) by Thierry Escaich, and will be performing the North American co-premiere of Dame Ethel Smyth’s last work, The Prison (1930), at Carnegie Hall on May 11, 2018.
A secular, unaffiliated organization, The Cecilia Chorus of New York was founded in 1906 as The St. Cecilia Chorus by Metropolitan Opera coach Victor Harris, as a 17-member women’s chorus. In 1922 the chorus appeared with The Philharmonic Society of New York under Willem Mengelberg in the first New York performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 3, in both the old Metropolitan Opera House and Carnegie Hall. Harris continued as the chorus’s conductor until 1936; his successors included Leon Barzin and Hugh Ross.
From 1965 until his death in 2010, the chorus was led by the distinguished broadcaster, writer, conductor, and composer David Randolph. During Maestro Randolph’s remarkable tenure, The Cecilia Chorus of New York achieved important milestones and enjoyed prominent collaborations. Notable performances include a concert presented by Oxford University Press to celebrate the 500th anniversary of its founding, and the North American premieres of Fanny Mendelssohn’s Oratorium nach Bildern der Bibel and a Mass by Antonio Salieri, with playwright Peter Shaffer, the author of Amadeus, in attendance. The Cecilia Chorus of New York has also premiered works by Mrs. H.H.A. Beach, Deems Taylor, Virgil Thomson, and many others.
The Cecilia Chorus of New York has performed under the conductors John Alldis, Lukas Foss, John Nelson, and Romano Gandolfi of La Scala. Members of The Cecilia Chorus of New York appeared in the film The Preacher’s Wife, participated in a recording with Liza Minnelli to support AIDS research, and performed at the United Nations.
Since 1969, the chorus has presented semi-annual concerts at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall; several of the Carnegie Hall concerts have been broadcast by radio station WNYC. The Cecilia Chorus of New York Collection of Recorded Concerts as well as the David Randolph Collection of the maestro’s scores and other documents now enjoy a permanent home in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
In July 2011, Mark Shapiro was appointed the seventh Music Director of The Cecilia Chorus of New York.