mark shapiro

Saturday, March 2, 2019, 8:00 PM

Church of St. Francis Xavier
46 W 16th Street, Manhattan


Sing Me the Universal
A Walt Whitman Bicentennial

Mark Shapiro, Conductor

American composers Vincent Persichetti (in his Celebrations) and Jorge Martín (in his One Hour to Madness and Joy) capture the power and transcendence of the words of Walt Whitman, while excerpts from the Mass in D minor (1860) of Bostonian John Knowles Paine highlight the poet’s radical individualism. With soloists, chorus, organ, and percussion.

Mark Shapiro writes, “The American original Walt Whitman has long been a favorite of composers. I think this is because his poetry, itself, sings. Its rhythms and textures leap from the page, calling out to be not merely read silently, but heard aloud. There is music already latent in Whitman's sound, as well as his meaning. Not surprisingly, we turn to American composers to give heightened expression to this free-spirited poet’s take-no-prisoners sensuousness and fire. To do further honor to Whitman’s amazing breakthrough, we introduce each of the two cycles with excerpts from the monumental and beautiful Mass in D minor by John Knowles Paine, a justly admired musical emissary from Whitman’s time and place.”

Read Mark Shapiro’s conductor’s note.

Read interviews with our conductor, soloists, and composer in our February 6 newsletter.