Photo © Nan Melville 2011

Mark Shapiro, Music Director

Nationally recognized 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 acknowledged as an imaginative, passionate, and humorous interpreter, communicator, teacher and advocate.

Shapiro works with orchestras and opera companies as well as choruses.  He is Music Director of the Prince Edward Island Symphony and Principal Guest Conductor of the Nova Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra in Halifax.  He continues to conduct opera for Juilliard Vocal Arts.  Other appearances include American Opera Projects, The Center for Contemporary Opera, the Opera Company of Middlebury, and Underworld Opera. 

Shapiro is Artistic Director of the award-winning chamber chorus Cantori New York, and led the Monmouth Civic Chorus for over two decades.  In demand as a lecturer and commentator, he gives Performance Plus lectures for the Tilles Center on Long Island.  Shapiro is Associate Professor of Music at LIU Post, and is on the faculties of Mannes College the New School for Music as well as the Juilliard School.  Each summer he directs the conducting program of the European American Musical Alliance, in Paris. 


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 enjoys working in opera and with orchestras as well as choruses.  A performance he conducted in February 2013 of Rachmaninoff’sSymphony no. 2 with the Prince Edward Island Symphony led that organization to engage him as Music Director.  In 2014-15 Maestro Shapiro and the PEI Symphony will present symphonies by Mendelssohn and Sibelius, Mussorgsky-Ravel’sPictures at an Exhibition, and many other works, including concertos and collaborations with Canadian performers and composers.

Maestro Shapiro continues as a principal guest conductor of the chamber orchestra Nova Sinfonia in Halifax, whom he will lead in two concerts in 2014-15, in symphonies of Brahms and Shostakovich as well as other works.  Maestro Shapiro 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.

Upcoming opera engagements include Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with Juilliard Vocal Arts.  Recent opera engagements have included Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, and 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.

Maestro Shapiro is currently in his twenty-fourth 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.   Both Cantori New York and The Cecilia Chorus of New York have 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 nearly 170 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 NewsEditor’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 have 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’sSaul 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, was released on Albany Records.
Maestro Shapiro is Associate Professor of Music at LIU Post, where he teaches music theory, music appreciation and conducting, and directs several ensembles, and where he was recently awarded the University’s highest academic award, the Abraham Krasnoff Memorial Award Scholarly Achievement.  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. In September 2014 Maestro Shapiro joins the faculty of the Juilliard School.

Maestro Shapiro lectures frequently about music.  Recent venues have included New York’s Harmonie Club and the Tilles Center on Long Island, where he has been invited to give a full series of pre-concert Performance Plus lectures.  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.