American conductor Mark Shapiro is an acclaimed conductor of orchestras, opera, and choruses, with an extraordinarily broad and diverse repertoire. He has built a reputation for exactness in musicianship, fluent and engaging rehearsals, and emotionally and spiritually powerful performances, and he is unique among North American conductors for having won six ASCAP Awards leading three different ensembles.
The New York Times has admired his “spirit of adventure” and praised his work as "insightful” while saluting the “uncommon polish” of his music-making. Opera News appreciated his “superb pacing and great confidence.”
Following a decade-long tenure as Music Director of The Prince Edward Island Symphony -- the first and only American to hold this position -- Shapiro was recently honored with the title of Conductor Emeritus. Repertoire has included symphonies by Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Dvorak, Mahler, Mozart, Nielsen, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky; works by Barber, Britten, Bruch, Copland, Delius, Ravel, Stravinsky; commissions and local premieres by Canadian composers including Linda Bouchard, John Estacio, Christos Hatzis, Alice Ho, Harry Stafylakis, and Andrew Staniland; and collaborations with pop artists Lennie Galant, Ten Strings and a Goatskin, Vishten, and others. Favorite partners have included award-winning violinist Mark Djokic. Additional orchestral engagements include Nova Sinfonia in Halifax and the Bridgeport Symphony featuring soprano Harolyn Blackwell, and Shapiro's critically-lauded album Glass Hour of works by Philip Glass, with Irish violinist Gregory Harrington and the Janacek Philharmonic, reached the Billboard classical chart twice. Shapiro was an invited conductor for the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and can be heard leading the orchestral soundtrack in Ric Burns's PBS special about New York City.
Shapiro has conducted five productions for Juilliard Vocal Arts, including operas by Britten, Poulenc, and Stravinsky. Singers he has conducted at Juilliard include Young Concert Artist Winner William Sokolow and Musical America Vocalist of the Year Davone Tines. A sympathetic and imaginative advocate for both contemporary operas and core repertoire, Shapiro has conducted new works with American Opera Projects, The Center for Contemporary Opera, Encompass New Opera Theater, and Underworld Opera, and others; traditional works with the opera departments of Hofstra, Mannes and Rutgers as well as The Opera Company of Middlebury. Stage directors have included Edward Berkeley, Mary Birnbaum, John Giampetro, Emma Griffin, Crystal Manich, and Louisa Müller.
Shapiro is Artistic Director of Cantori New York and The Cecilia Chorus of New York, which performs two concerts each season in Carnegie Hall, and for more than two decades he was Music Director of the Monmouth Civic Chorus in New Jersey. Shapiro has led Cantori in appearances in all five major halls at Lincoln Center, and he and the ensemble have been presented by Death of Classical, Gotham Early Music Series, Great Performers at Lincoln Center, Music at the Anthology, World Financial Center Arts&Events, and many others.
With The Cecilia Chorus of New York, Shapiro has presented major singers in Carnegie Hall debuts, including Julia Bullock, Ryan Speedo Green, Jennifer Rowley, William Guanbo Su, and many others. His imaginative programming included the first-ever Carnegie Hall performance of a four-piano arrangement of Rite of Spring featuring Grammy-winner Cory Smyth. He is proud to have conducted the first-ever Carnegie Hall performances of major choral-orchestral works by Margaret Bonds and Dame Ethel Smyth.
Favorite artistic partners have included award-winning actors Kathleen Chalfant, Maryann Plunkett, and Stephen Spinella; renowned singers Sasha Cooke, Brandie Sutton, and Renee Tatum; and virtuoso instrumentalists Miranda Cuckson, Nadia Sirota, Prism saxophone quartet, and Sandbox Percussion.
Shapiro is curator of the Mark Shapiro Choral Series with EC Schirmer.
Shapiro has appeared on WNYC, WQXR, Sirius, and CBC, and was heard on PBS leading the orchestral soundtrack for Ric Burns’s special on New York City. His performances with The Prince Edward Island Symphony have been aired in Canada on Eastlink TV.
Shapiro serves on the Steering Committee for the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at New York's Mt. Sinai Hospital, and was an inaugural member of the Advisory Board of the Ann Stookey Fund for New Music. He has been a panelist and reviewer for the Philadelphia Music Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, and was a guest clinician for Chorus America and Conspirare. His workshop at the triennial Choralies festival in Vaison-la-Romaine, France culminated in a sold-out performance in the 5000-seat Roman amphitheater.
Shapiro maintains a sideline as a narrator and pre-concert speaker for orchestral performances, including concerts by the Israel and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. He 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 is honored to acknowledge the teachers whose expertise and caring helped him along the never-ending path to musical discovery. His conducting teachers included Gustav Meier, Markand Thakar, Robert Kapilow and Rodney Wynkoop; he attended workshops with Sergiu Celibidache, Pierre Dervaux, Eric Ericson and Victor Yampolsky. Important musical influences include Narcis Bonet, Robert Levin and Louise Talma, and his colleagues and students at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris.
Shapiro is bilingual in English and French, reads German and Italian, and can decipher the alphabets of Russian, Hebrew, and ancient Greek. He is a longtime student and practitioner of the Alexander Technique.