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Press Releases

Cecilia Chorus of NY Presents Sing Me the Universal - A Walt Whitman Bicentennial Concert

March 1, 2019

The Cecilia Chorus of New York, Mark Shapiro, Music Director will present Sing Me the Universal, a Walt Whitman Bicentennial Concert on March 2 at 8:00 PM at the Church of St. Francis Xavier, 46 W. 16th St., between 5th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan. This event celebrates the 200th anniversary of the poet’s birth.

Repertoire will be 20th century composer Vincent Persichetti’s Celebrations, the premiere of a new version of contemporary Cuban composer Jorge Martín’s One Hour to Madness and Joy with organ, both of which capture the power and transcendence of the words of Walt Whitman.  Excerpts from the Mass in D minor (1860) of Bostonian John Knowles Paine highlight the poet’s radical individualism.

The Mass will feature contralto Nicole Joy Mitchell and tenor Michael St. Peter. More about Jorge Martín and organist James Kennerley at http://ceciliachorusny.org/#/walt-whitman-bicentennial.

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 not merely to be read silently, but heard aloud. There is music already latent in Whitman's sound as well.”

The concert will be presented with organ and percussion accompaniment. 

Tickets for the March 2 concert are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, $25 for students, and can be purchased online at https://ceciliachorusny.org/products/walt-whitman-bicentennial.              

For more information about this concert, visit http://www.ceciliachorusny.org/ or call 646-638-2535. For MTA transportation information, visit http://tripplanner.mta.info/MyTrip/ui_web/customplanner/TripPlanner.aspx.

Jorge Martín (Composer, One Hour to Madness and Joy) was born in Santiago de Cuba and has degrees from Yale College and Columbia University. He writes in all major genres and his music is commissioned and performed by artists and groups across the U.S.  In 1999 and again in 2012 he received a Cintas Fellowship for creative artists of Cuban descent, and also the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Academy Award in Music in 1998. In 2005 Martín was awarded a fellowship by the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa, and artist’s residencies at Yaddo in 1993 and again in 2003. The Fort Worth Opera Festival presented the World Premiere of Martín’s first full-length opera, Before Night Falls, in the Spring of 2010; Florida Grand Opera revived the production in 2017. The opera is available on record. Mr. Martín has numerous other recordings available commercially, and he is a member of A.S.C.A.P. His website is at http://www.jorgemartin.com.

The Cecilia Chorus of New York, winner of the ASCAP/Chorus America Alice Parker Award, recently received a generous grant supporting consecutive seasons from New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs. Founded in 1906, the chorus has evolved into one of the finest avocational performing arts organizations in New York City, described as “reliably venturesome” (The New Yorker, 2017) and “admirable,” (New York Times, 2017). Recent highlights have included commissions from The Brothers Balliett, Jonathan Breit, Tom Cipullo, and Raphael Fusco; collaborations with two-time Tony Award-winning actor Stephen Spinella and opera singers Julia Bullock and Ryan Speedo Green; the New York premieres in Carnegie Hall of the Mass in D and The Prison by Dame Ethel Smyth; and the US premiere of Messe Romane by Thierry Escaich.  In May 2019 the chorus returns to Carnegie Hall for the premiere of a newly commissioned work from The Brothers Balliett, Fifty Trillion Molecular Geniuses, on texts by bestselling author and TED speaker Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor (My Stroke of Insight).  Much more at http://ceciliachorusny.org/.

Mark Shapiro was appointed the seventh Music Director of The Cecilia Chorus of New York in 2011. Music Director of The Prince Edward Island Symphony and Artistic Director of Cantori New York, 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 characterized his conducting as "insightful" and acknowledged its “virtuosity and assurance,” and “uncommon polish.”  His artistic leadership was characterized by New Jersey’s Star-Ledger as “erudite and far-reaching.” His bio is at http://www.ceciliachorusny.org/music-director-mark-shapiro/.


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