By Angelique D’Alessandro
The Chorus will perform with the Cecilia Chorus of New York at Carnegie Hall Dec. 9 under conductor Mark Shapiro. The concert will also feature Renee Tatum of the Metropolitan Opera. The chorus has performed in Ireland, Italy, and at various New York venues, including the Lincoln Center in Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.. They gave a preview performance of their Carnegie Hall repertoire on Nov. 29 in Hillwood Commons.
Mark Shapiro, conductor of the chorus, is no stranger to conducting at Carnegie Hall. “The LIU Post Chorus is a guest of the Cecilia Chorus of New York, one of New York’s oldest oratorio societies,” Shapiro said. An oratorio is a large work of music written for a vocal orchestra. “Their last conductor died in his nineties, and then they had a search for his replacement, and I was hired in 2011 by that chorus,” Shapiro said. When working with an oratorio group, he must conduct for both the instrumental ensemble and for vocalists. With the Cecilia Chorus, Shapiro conducts a concert at Carnegie Hall twice each year. He decided to use his connections with the venue to allow students a rare experience.
Rebecca Engel, a junior music education major and chorus member, is excited to be able to perform with the chorus. “Post and its accomplished faculty give us so many opportunities other schools do not get, such as performing at Carnegie Hall,” she said. This will be Engel’s third time performing at Carnegie Hall with the chorus.
“One of the things I wanted to do since I was here was try to create this opportunity, which is so rare and otherwise would be pretty much impossible,” Shapiro said. The chorus has performed more than five times at Carnegie Hall with the Cecilia Chorus under Shapiro’s guidance.
Shapiro described the detailed preparation for such a big performance, “Bach is hard. It’s a lot of curious turns of phrase that you don’t necessarily see coming, and it’s very continuous singing,” he said, “We look at the big picture and small picture.”
The chorus will perform selections from Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio,” which is entirely in German. The separate sections of the piece vary in tone, composition, and lyrics, each one expressing a different motif. Shapiro says it is important for singers to understand the meaning behind the music. “We also talk about what the pieces mean, spiritually and emotionally, and what it means to us.”