View 2018-2019 Season Press Release (PDF)

August 27, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeffrey James Arts Consulting
516-586-3433 or

The Cecilia Chorus of New York, Mark Shapiro, Music Director
2018-2019 Concert Season at Carnegie Hall:
Handel’s Messiah – Music Inspired by Poetry of Walt Whitman – New Work from The Brothers Balliett

New York, NY – The Cecilia Chorus of New York, Mark Shapiro, Music Director, has announced its 2018-2019 concert season, including two concerts at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium/ Perelman Stage and a third concert at Manhattan’s Church of St. Francis Xavier. Dates and programs are:

Saturday, December 8 at 8:00PM – Handel’s Messiah
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, 57th Street & 7th Avenue

Handel’s perennial classic in a suspenseful and luminous interpretation.

The Cecilia Chorus of New York will perform this timeless masterwork with full orchestra and soloists Shakèd Bar, soprano, Nicholas Tamagna, countertenor, Michael St. Peter, tenor and William Guanbo Su, bass.

Maestro Shapiro said, “One of the many elements that make conducting Handel’s Messiah ever new and exhilarating is the opportunity to discover what different soloists bring to its perfectly written roles. An individual vocal color or turn of phrase can illuminate a passage in a way that is completely new, even surprising.  The Cecilia Chorus of New York has a longstanding practice of identifying and presenting remarkable up-and-coming singers in role and hall debuts.  This year's outstanding quartet of Messiah soloists is sure to impart fresh poignancy and sparkle to this timeless music.”

This performance will be the Carnegie Hall main stage debut for both Shakèd Bar and Michael St. Peter. Nicholas Tamagna was soloist in CCNY’s A Bach Family Christmas in December 2016 - his Carnegie Hall main stage debut - and William Guanbo Su was soloist in the group’s presentation of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in December 2017. This was also Guanbo Su’s Carnegie Hall debut.

Click here for more concert information.

Saturday, March 2, 2019 at 8:00PM - Sing Me the Universal - A Walt Whitman Bicentennial
Church of St. Francis Xavier, 46 W 16th St. in Manhattan

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.”

Soloists in the Paine excerpts will be Ganson Salmon, tenor and Nicole Mitchell, contralto.

Click here for more concert information.

Friday, May 3, 2019 at 8:00PM - Brahms, Elgar and the Brothers Balliett
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, 57th Street & 7th Avenue

A triptych of choral-orchestral works featuring the solo mezzo-soprano voice. Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody and Elgar’s buoyantly optimistic The Music Makers frame the newly commissioned Fifty Trillion Molecular Geniuses (working title) from The Brothers Balliett. With soloists, chorus and orchestra.

Shapiro said, “Presenting three electrifying mezzo-soprano soloists in a single program makes me deeply happy. Although all vocal categories are irresistible, who among us has not secretly got a crush on the mezzo voice? And I love the idea of surrounding a commission from the slyly lyrical Brothers Balliett - and their absolutely sui generis contemporary imaginations - with the warm embrace of two luxurious works evoking the height of Romanticism.”

Soloists will be mezzo-sopranos Renée Tatum, Amanda Lynn Bottoms, and a third singer TBA. Ms. Tatum, who is appearing with CCNY courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera, sang mezzo solo with the chorus’s Bach Christmas Oratorio of December 2017 and Ms. Bottoms sang Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with them in May 2016 (her Carnegie hall debut.)

This concert honors the life and legacy of mezzo-soprano Alice Mandelick Flagler (1872-1918), a founding member, officer and benefactor of The Cecilia Chorus of New York.

Click here for more concert information.

For tickets:

Single tickets for the December 8 and May 3 concerts range from $25 to $85 and are available online, by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or visiting the box office at 57th Street and 7th Avenue. Season subscriptions are also available.

For more information about these concerts, visit or call 646-638-2535.

CCNY Carnegie Hall concerts are ADA accessible. For MTA transportation information, visit TripPlanner.

The Cecilia Chorus of New York was founded in 1906 as The St. Cecilia Chorus.  The Chorus was the 2015 winner of the Chorus America/ASCAP Alice Parker Award.  Recent highlights include the New York premiere of The Prison by Dame Ethel Smyth, the U.S. premiere of Thierry Escaich’s Messe Romane, and the World Premiere of The Brothers Balliett’s Oedipus the King.  The Chorus takes pride in offering hall and role debuts to talented young singers, recently including soprano Julia Bullock and baritone Ryan Speedo Green.

Music Director Mark Shapiro was appointed the seventh Music Director of The Cecilia Chorus of New York in 2011. He is one of a handful of artistic leaders in North America to have won a prestigious ASCAP Programming Award six times, achieving the unique distinction of winning such an award with three different ensembles. The New York Times has praised his work as “insightful” and has noted its “virtuosity and assurance,” as well as its “uncommon polish.” His bio is online here.

For photos or press inquiries, please contact Jeffrey James Art Consulting at 516-586-3433 or


"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.'”

—, 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." —, 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.” —, 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,

"….(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,

"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." —

"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." —

"….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