Versatile conductor Mark Shapiro is a true Renaissance spirit, equally at home with orchestras, choruses, and in opera, and as a lecturer, presenter and program annotator. He is unique among North American conductors for having won a prestigious ASCAP Programming Award six times, at the helm of three different ensembles over a two-decade span.
Shapiro has been praised by the New York Times as an "insightful" conductor; The Times has also cited his work for its “virtuosity and assurance,” as well as its “uncommon polish." Shapiro's artistic vision has been characterized by the New Jersey Star-Ledger as “erudite and far-reaching.”
Shapiro is Music Director of the Prince Edward Island Symphony and of The Cecilia Chorus of New York, which performs an annual subscription series in Carnegie Hall, and Artistic Director of Cantori New York. He is an inaugural member of the Advisory Board of the Ann Stookey Fund for New Music. For two decades he led the Monmouth Civic Chorus (and Orchestra) in Red Bank, New Jersey.
Shapiro has appeared three times with Juilliard Vocal Arts, conducting Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, Poulenc's Les mamelles de Tiresias, and a double bill of Britten's Curlew River and Riders to the Sea by Vaughan-Williams.
Shapiro's other opera appearances include Bizet’s Les pecheurs de perles and Rossini's Barbiere di Siviglia with the Opera Company of Middlebury (VT), and Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti and the staged premiere of Ben Yarmolinsky’s opera Clarence and Anita with Underworld Opera in New York. He has also conducted for American Opera Projects and the Center for Contemporary Opera at venues including The Cell and the Rubin Museum in New York.
As an orchestral conductor, Shapiro has led performances of standard repertoire with the Prince Edward Island Symphony and with the chamber orchestra Nova Sinfonia in Halifax, which he has frequently led as a guest conductor. He has conducted these ensembles in symphonies, concertos and other orchestral works by Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Dvorak, Mahler, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Nielsen, Schubert, Schumann, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and others. He led the Bridgeport Symphony in a concert featuring Metropolitan Opera soprano Harolyn Blackwell.
With the Prince Edward Island Symphony, Shapiro spearheaded a musical celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, a founding event in Canada's history. The festive concert featured the world premieres of two significant works, one for orchestra, the other for voice and orchestra, by Canadian composers Garrett Krauss and Alice Ping-Yee Ho. Shapiro developed guidelines for the works -- for example, the orchestral work needed to build to and close with an audience sing-along of Canada's national anthem -- which were submitted in a nationally announced competition and chosen by a jury.
Also with the PEI Symphony, Shapiro has successfully undertaken novel collaborations with popular Canadian artists including Paper Lions, Lennie Gallant, Catherine MacLellan, and Rose Cousins; performed with esteemed Canadian soloists including soprano Suzie LeBlanc and cellist Julia MacLaine; and has featured student soloists.
As a choral-orchestral conductor, Shapiro has led an extensive repertoire of standard literature, including Masses and Requiems of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Durufle, Faure, Mozart, and Verdi. His repertoire includes rarities by Ulysses Kay, Peter Mennin, Frank Martin, Karol Szymanowski, Ralph Vaughan-Williams and many others.
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 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.
International composers Shapiro has championed and premiered include Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (Azerbaijan), Jacques Bank (Holland), Bruno Bettinelli (Italy), Pascal Dusapin (France), Hugi Gudmundsson (Iceland), Bo Holten (Sweden), Giya Kancheli (Republic of Georgia) Bernhardt Lewkovitch (Denmark), Piotr Moss (Poland/France), Maurice Ohana (Morocco/France), Heinrich Sutermeister (Switzerland), Siegfried Thiele (Germany), Erkki-Sven Tüür (Estonia), and Gottfried von Einem (Austria).
Shapiro has been a dedicated advocate of international women composers, including Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (Azerbaijan), Judith Bingham (England), Elisenda Fabregas (Catalonia/US), Sofia Gubaidlulina (Russia), Alice Ho (China/Canada), Akemi Naito (Japan/US), Alba Potes (Colombia/US), and Judith Weir (England).
In 2012 Shapiro conducted the long-delayed New York City premiere, in Carnegie Hall,of the towering Mass in D (1892) by English composer Dame Ethel Smyth (a landmark event for which he was recognized with the Long Island University Abraham Krasnoff Award for Single Scholarly Achievement).
The list of American composers whose works Shapiro has commissioned, premiered or conducted is extensive, and includes Bradley and Douglas Balliett, Lembit Beecher, Benjamin C.S. Boyle, Jonathan Pollack Breit, David Conte, Paul Crabtree, Shawn Crouch, Michael Dellaira, Frank Ferko, Raphael Fusco, Rex Isenberg, Libby Larsen, Kristin Kuster, Jorge Martin, Tom Nazziola, Judith Shatin, Judith Zaimont, and many others.
Cantori New York 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 News Editor’s Choice. Cantori has been presented at the Metropolitan Opera House by American Ballet Theater, at Avery Fisher Hall by Great Performers at Lincoln Center, at Le Poisson Rouge by Gotham Early Music Festival and Music at the Anthology, at Zankel Hall by American Opera Projects, and in other venues by presenters including World Financial Center Arts& Events and Teatro Grattacielo.
Cantori has collaborated with distinguished artists including Michael Tilson Thomas, Sasha Cooke, the PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Tony Award winner Maryann Plunkett, Obie Award winner Kathleen Chalfant, and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Armin Jordan.
In 2013, Cantori New York performed several concerts in Marseille as part of a festival celebrating that city as European Cultural Capitol.
Frequently in demand as a master teacher, consultant, presenter and clinician, Shapiro has participated in a Choral/Orchestral Conducting Master Class under the aegis of Chorus America. He was invited to Austin by the Grammy-nominated ensemble Conspirare as part of a regional festival presented under the aegis of the National Endowment for the Arts. His 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’s Saul in the 5000-seat Roman amphitheater. Shapiro has been a panelist and reviewer for the Philadelphia Music Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, and for the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.
Shapiro maintains a sideline as a narrator for orchestral performances, including Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and a concert performance of Verdi’s Aida by the Bridgeport Symphony under his teacher Gustav Meier. He also enjoys lecturing on Music and Mind, and has taught this material at the New School in New York and as a guest lecturer for the Honors College of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Shapiro teaches instrumental conducting at the Juilliard School (evening division) and serves as Director of the Conducting Program at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France. He is an Associate Professor of Music at LIU Post, and has been a long-time member of the conducting faculty of Mannes College the New School for Music.
Shapiro is a 2016 recipient of Long Island University's Abraham Krasnoff Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement, the University's highest academic honor; in 2014 he received its Krasnoff Award for Single Scholarly Achievement. He is the first LIU Post faculty member to receive these awards in consecutive rounds, and only the sixth faculty member in the University's history to be honored with both awards.