Versatile conductor Mark Shapiro is a true Renaissance spirit, equally at home with orchestras, choruses, and opera, and as a lecturer, presenter and teacher. Unusually, Shapiro’s musical leadership excels in three dimensions: efficacy, imagination and depth. His quick musical reflexes, keen intellect, organizational expertise and humorous, easygoing manner have won him a welcome reputation as a dependable presence in high-stakes situations (including emergencies!). Shapiro 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, with The New York Times singling out his “spirit of adventure” and The New Jersey Star-Ledger characterizing his artistic leadership as “erudite and far-reaching.” The New York Times has praised Shapiro’s conducting as "insightful” and has noted his “virtuosity and assurance” as well as the “uncommon polish” of his music-making.
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. He is a frequent guest conductor for Nova Sinfonia in Halifax, and has led The Bridgeport Symphony; he was a guest conductor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Shapiro has appeared four times with Juilliard Vocal Arts, conducting operas by Britten, Poulenc and Vaughan Williams. Stage directors with whom he has worked include Edward Berkeley, Mary Birnbaum, John Giampetro, Emma Griffin, Isabel Milenski and Jimmy Smith. Opera companies include American Opera Projects, Carolina Coast Chamber Festival, the Center for Contemporary Opera, Encompass New Opera, Hofstra Opera Theater, Metro Lyric Opera, Opera Company of Middlebury and Underworld Opera.
Shapiro’s repertoire interests are wide-ranging, embracing new music and standard repertoire — orchestral, choral-orchestral, choral, and opera — from all over the globe, from the Middle Ages to the present day, as well as crossover (with popular Canadian artists Rose Cousins, Lennie Gallant, Catherine MacLellan, David Myles and The Paper Lions).
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..
Throughout his career, Shapiro has been a dedicated advocate of women composers. He has particularly championed the work of Dame Ethel Smyth, conducting the long overdue New York premieres of her Mass in D and The Prison, both in Carnegie Hall.
Shapiro and Cantori New York have released four commercial recordings, on the Albany, Arsis, Newport Classics, and PGM labels. Their recording of Frank Martin’s oratorio Le vin herbé was an Opera News Editor’s Choice. Cantori has been heard at all five major halls at Lincoln Center, and has been presented by American Ballet Theater, Carnegie Hall, Great Performers at Lincoln Center, Gotham Early Music Festival, Music at the Anthology, and World Financial Center Arts& Events.
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 taught for Chorus America and Conspirare. His ten-day workshop at the triennial Choralies festival in Vaison-la-Romaine, France culminated in a sold-out performance 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 and 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 proud to be part of a great lineage of musical pedagogues, and 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.