May 11, 2018 Carnegie Hall concert: Dame Ethel Smyth's The Prison and Mozart's Requiem
Approaches to Dame Ethel Smyth and The Prison:
- The Prison – A Unique Collaborative Co-Premiere
- Dame Ethel Smyth – Her Life
- Dame Ethel Smyth – Her Music
- Not Just a Novelty Anymore: Dame Ethel Smyth, Composer and Fin de Siecle Renegade, Returns to New York
- Dame Ethel Smyth: Still Fighting for Equality 100 Years Later
- Ahead of Her Time: Dame Ethel Smyth, Pioneer of Intersectional Feminism
"The usual lauds for The Cecilia Chorus are twofold. First, as they showed last night, they are a terrific group. And under Mark Shapiro, their voices are transparent, they can give off some ear-splitting fortissimos without an iota of blatancy, and they are...well, sometimes ravishing.
The second laud goes to their chutzpa….Cecilia Chorus handled it all with excitement, passion and (to rhyme with Dame Ethel’s family name) 'litheness.'”
— ConcertoNet.com, May 2018
".…[T]he men radiated a chestnut darkness that conveyed the emotional and spiritual gravitas of the libretto….The winds sparkled with forthright, pristine clarity. Challenging passages felt clean and velvety. Shapiro’s perspicuous gestures accurately telegraphed the changing moods, tempi, and shapes of phrases….At “Surely, surely you will slip into heaven!” the harp and celesta rose into the heavenly firmament as the chorus tapered into solemn silence….The dignity that all composers demand and many deserve is exactly what The Prison has finally received behind the proscenium arch of Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall."
— The Boston Musical Intelligencer, May 2018
"Reliably venturesome” — The New Yorker, May 2017
“Admirable” — The New York Times (Oestrich), May 2017
"....[B]racing and exciting....[G]orgeously effective....The demand to God – “Dona!” – half an insistence for the future and half a declaration of what is possible in this present moment – in Shapiro’s hands was thrilling." — theaterscene.net, May 2016
“Singing to a happily packed Carnegie Hall….chorus, orchestra and soprano were in near perfect balance….The orchestra was crisp on the one hand and sensuous on the other. The Cecilia Chorus, as always, was keenly attuned to Shapiro’s direction, singing with close attention to Poulenc’s – and later Vaughan Williams’ – rhythmic and melodic intentions….
[E]ach member of the musical conversation – orchestra, chorus, soloists, Becker and the Every Voice Concert Choir, and Shapiro himself – received intense, exuberant, even rowdy applause. For performers and audience alike, this concert constituted a lively and energetic contribution to the season’s good cheer and creative generosity.” — theaterscene.net, December 2014
[Vaughan-Williams, Toward the Unknown Region] “The chorus clearly enjoyed singing this work, lavishing enthusiastic care on both its mellifluous subtleties and its symphonic swells.”
[Brahms, Nänie] “This first-rate performance, characterized by a balanced and graceful partnership of chorus and orchestra, beautifully conveyed Brahms's understanding of immortality.”
[Bruckner, Te Deum] “[T]he chorus and orchestra were marvelous in this performance….The monumental and dramatic conclusion of the Bruckner was bracingly gorgeous.”
[Tom Cipullo, Credo for a Secular City (commissioned by The Cecilia Chorus of New York – world premiere)] “Cipullo has indeed succeeded in creating a work that, while affirming neither orthodox faith nor formal agnosticism, nonetheless proclaims the power of thought itself as a manifestation of both creation and creativity.... Credo for a Secular City is a mature and accomplished work; its intellectual literacy is part of its very nature. Cipullo's writing for both chorus and orchestra is rich and evocative; if the textual conversation of this piece is about faith and belief, its landscape of musical sound is very much about nature's moods and movements as the context within which people's thinking and speculations must take place.
The closing chorus, I Was Never Able To Pray, was especially wonderful. In spite of the final poem's wistful uncertainty of tone and content, the musical conclusion was shaped by both urgent American optimism and graceful sweetness. The warm applause that greeted the composer when he came to the stage to take bows with Shapiro, McGee, chorus and orchestra was well deserved indeed.” — Jean Ballard Terepka, theaterscene.net
"….(A)dmirable….The chorus, one of the most venerable amateur ensembles of its kind, sang Mr. Cipullo’s 30-minute work with spirit….(T)he passage near the end of the Brahms, as the chorus sings that all beauty must fade, was handled by Mr. Shapiro and his singers with a gentle, memorable hush." — Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times
"The chorus and orchestra gave fine performances…. very moving…..sheer delight. As for the centerpiece, the world premiere of Tom Cipullo’s piece, it is magic. The transparency of the setting, its rich and luminous colors, refreshingly inventive approach and exquisite balance show most skillful craft, deep appreciation of the ideas in the poetic text, and a most meaningful and delightful grasp of musical language and artistic inspiration, freely quoting from choral literature yet novel in its approach. Most choral pieces tend to be leaden or syrupy in comparison to this brilliant piece, which is light on its feet and a delight to one’s ears." — Mark Greenfest, soundwordsight.com
"A THRILLING PERFORMANCE IN CARNEGIE HALL….superb….magnificently performed….BRAVO to conductor Mark Shapiro and The Cecilia Chorus of New York….Shapiro is to be lauded for the excellent preparation of the choral forces and the inspired performance he gave of this work." — wophil.org
"Singers and instrumentalists responded warmly and expressively to Shapiro's conducting….The chorus, singing clearly and cleanly, conveyed a sense of tremendous joy….The Cecilia Chorus of New York's performance in Carnegie Hall last week was festive and lovely. It also attested to this group's continued important place in the New York City choral music landscape." — theaterscene.net
"….a bright, big-boned, robust sound….velvety tone and precisely calibrated balances….irresistible…" — The New York Times
"….finely adjusted balances, shadings and vocal colorations…." — The New York Times
"The Mozart was an exquisite highlight, singers and orchestra bathing the music in a radiant glow." — The New York Times
"….precision, musicality and meticulous attention to dynamics and diction…." — The Music Journal
"….a profoundly moving performance that will be treasured long by every member of the attentive and enthusiastic throng that filled every seat in the hall." — The Newhouse News