Maestro Shapiro led the musicians superbly through a most demanding program - eliciting a moving and energetic performance from soloists and orchestra alike. His love for the music and deep understanding of its demands was impressive, as was his courage in presenting a difficult and seldom played work [Dame Ethel Smyth’s The Prison] alongside one of the greatest and best known choral masterpieces [Mozart Requiem].
Half conducting professor...half Jedi master.
Challenging passages felt clean and velvety. Shapiro’s perspicuous gestures accurately telegraphed the changing moods, tempi, and shapes of phrases....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.
Even the most accomplished score still needs to right artists to come alive, and we had them last Sunday evening...A totally uplifting release of glorious sounds...Memorable.
[The] polished interpretation conveyed great emotional depth...Enthusiastic ovations.
...[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.
The insightful conductor Mark Shapiro draws subtle and dynamic playing from the excellent orchestra.
Juilliard Opera followed its collaboration on Gluck’s ‘Iphigénie en Aulide,’ with the Metropolitan Opera, with a no-less-intense, intimate ‘Rape of Lucretia’ (1946), by Benjamin Britten and Ronal Duncan, which opened for three performances on February 18, aptly given in Juilliard’s Rosemary and Meredith Wilson Theater, a smaller hall than its Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Leading eight vocalists and 13 instrumentalists, Mark Shapiro carefully sculpted this rarified early Britten score, infusing it with passion as needed.
The Rape of Lucretia, now (through Sunday) enjoying a superb three-performance run at the Juilliard Opera’s Wilson Theater (tickets are scarce; hie thee to the waiting list), was Benjamin Britten’s third opera and first ‘chamber opera,’ composed for the tiny original theater at Glyndebourne...Britten’s small orchestra (thirteen instruments at Juilliard, expertly led by Mark Shapiro) seems to lurch with the action in and out of traditional harmonies, now full of almost tonal melody (drinking songs, flower songs), then abruptly percussive or harshly disharmonious as less polite emotions and events are presented.
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.
Virtuosity and assurance.
[Cantori New York], directed by Mark Shapiro, sang with uncommon polish. Few part-time choruses produce as unified and velvety a sound...
...Shapiro proved a deft and sensitive conductor, conveying the best of the music...the orchestra proved dramatically effective and sounded great...find musicianship...compelling opera.
A THRILLING CONCERT OF BEAUTY AND GRACE...wonderful performances of Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody and Bruckner’s huge Mass in F minor...Throughout the evening, the large choir and the orchestra were thrilling...The singing was meaty and passionate...Artistic Director Mark Shapiro clearly understands this work and is undaunted by the scope of its vision, and he succeeded in communicating that vision to both ensembles.
Adventurous programming, appealing music: the fine chamber choir Cantori New York has a reputation for one and a penchant for the other.
Distinguished...Cantori sang with soft-edged, pastel tones- finely blended, rich and mellifluous.
[Greater Bridgeport Symphony Guest Conductor] Mark Shapiro turned out to be a genial host with easy-going explanations...in the Gustav Meier tradition...[A] winning combination of lush strings and brasses gave this timeless classic a dreamlike quality full of deep sentiment.
Outstandingly accompanied by a fine Burlington Chamber Orchestra...Mark Shapiro, the music director, [offered] spirit, flexibility and sensitivity in his conducting and harpsichord playing...
Easily the best thing that happened during the area’s 2008-9 performance season...flowing strength, deep understanding and a fully professional rigor...Electrifying.
Beautifully performed...As fine a performance as you could ask for. With its reputation in Monmouth County firmly established, conductor Mark Shapiro and the Monmouth Civic Chorus could be sitting back on their laurels...they certainly have no practical reason to be going out on a limb with ambitious and underplayed repertoire. None, that is, except to satisfy a musical drive, an explorer’s hunger to know what there is to know about the historical literature and maybe even to find something rare and wonderful that is new or has been forgotten. And then to work hard to share that with the community, presenting it in the best possible light. It sounds simple. But more groups should do it.
Cantori New York and the Long Island University Chorus howled gloriously under the direction of Mark Shapiro; we were right at home, ringside to mob rule.
The reverent a cappella opening prayer, fervently sung by Cantori New York and Long Island University Chorus, under Mark Shapiro, is pure Mascagni...
Cantori New York and the Long Island University Chorus contributed greatly to the evening...The chorus sang with perfect diction, precision and clarity.
...one of the more unusual choral performances of the New Jersey season...[Shapiro] paced [Les Noces] with a drive that kept the music feeling alive and evocative...[C]onductor, singers and instrumentalists should be applauded...a tribute to Shapiro’s ability...erudite and far-reaching.
MONMOUTH CHORUS PLAYS ‘MAGIC FLUTE’ TO PERFECTION...Shapiro achieved a superb balance between pit and stage. The orchestra played with stylistic spirit and clarity.
What a happy surprise it is...to find that the Monmouth Civi Chorus is so well led...Mark Shapiro combined all the elements- orchestra, chorus, and soloists- in a sympathetic and well-crafted whole...a nuanced performance with a firm sense of line and coherent, even expressive phrasing...The Missa Solemnis is full of technical pitfalls made all the more dangerous by the music’s glorious lulling sheen. To his credit, Shapiro never lost sight of the music’s ultimate aim by focusing too tightly on these difficulties. On the other hand, under his baton there was no problem that did not have a solution.
Mr. Shapiro had the measure of the work and led it surely.
...an appreciative audience clamoring for an encore...
The conducting style of Mark Shapiro is filled with energy and intensity...This energetic approach, aided by sterling work in the choir and some moving solos, lifted this performance and made it a moving experience for the audience.
A TRIUMPHANT RISK...a full-blooded performance of ‘Les Noces’...the sweep and sparkle of detail that every Stravinsky fan yearns for. ‘Les Noces’ has a presence, a weirdly spiritual and dancing sense of humor that embraces all the tears and foibles of human bonding. Performed correctly, as it was Saturday, it’s like an injection of marvelous and coarse humanity straight into the vein.
...the chorus, so often this company’s worst element, has undergone a transformation under new chorus master Mark Shapiro...a bracing and robust sound...
Le Vin Herbé proved a work of subtle beauty and intriguing harmonic hues. Shapiro presided over the vocalists and [instruments] in a worthy realization of this rarity.
Mark Shapiro at the piano did such an excellent job that I did not miss the orchestra.
Tom Cipullo’s ‘Glory Denied,’ presented by the Center for Contemporary Opera in a ‘staged reading’ with piano accompaniment, attracted an overflow audience to the Thalia Theater at Symphony Space...Music director Mark Shapiro presided over a fine cast.
OPERA NEWS EDITOR’S CHOICE...A VITAL PERFORMANCE BY MARK SHAPIRO AND CANTORI NEW YORK...enthusiastic and dramatically potent...virtuoso playing of the highest order...Shapiro’s musicians deliver the goods with vitality, exuberance and polish.
The principle roles are well characterized and sung, and the instrumental playing first-rate. Le Vin Herbé is full of beauties but the whole is more than the sum of the parts, and Mark Shapiro’s and his colleagues’ love for the score shines through every bar.
The ensemble writing in Le Vin Herbé is demanding...Cantori negotiates all of this successfully. The ensemble’s tone is excellent throughout; never strained or forced...Shapiro has crafted a remarkable sound, full of color and expression.
Superb artistry...conviction and elegance.
Exciting new voices in contemporary music...emotional authenticity.
Big galumphing choruses, Handelian grandeur, splendid quasi-lyrical solos, and the farewell military call-to-arms: all were worthy of respect; all was conducted with passion and joy by Maestro Shapiro.