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The Cecilia Chorus Of New York Will Present THE BELSHAZZAR PROJECT Featuring Kathleen Chalfant and More

The Cecilia Chorus Of New York Will Present THE BELSHAZZAR PROJECT Featuring Kathleen Chalfant and More

The Cecilia Chorus of New York will present The Belshazzar Project, a multigenre concert experience devised by Music Director and six-time ASCAP Programming Award winner Mark Shapiro, on March 7 @ 8:00 PM at Church of St. Francis Xavier, 46 W. 16th St., between 5th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan, featuring music and spoken words inspired by the story of Belshazzar, the last king of the ancient Babylonian empire. Music by Alexandre Guilmant, Handel, Arseny Koreshchenko, Rossini, Schumann, Americans Johnny Cash, Harold Rome, and Penny Prince, along with poems and texts by Lord Byron, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and more explore the meaning of the writing on the wall and the consequences of being weighed in the balance and found wanting. The history of Belshazzar, and the account of his undoing in the Book of Daniel ground this varied repertoire in interpretations of a single, timeless theme.

The performance will feature acclaimed actor Kathleen Chalfant, along with Chance Jonas-O'Toole, tenor; Thomas West, baritone; Liana Harper Cruz and Bryan C. Paredes, actor/singers; and James Wetzel, organ. Soloist bios will be available at

Music Director Shapiro said, "This urgent story recounts the downfall of a corrupt and sacrilegious king. During our rehearsals, it's been electrifying to hear it and hear it again, taking on new layers of meaning as it ricochets among the languages, cultures and historical periods of the treatments we've uncovered. The chorus sings in English, French, German, Italian, and Russian. The musical settings range from the sprightly Handelian Baroque through the fevered romanticism of Schumann, the flashy exuberance of early Rossini, the giddy ripeness of France's Third Republic (Guilmant), and the mesmeric intensity of the forgotten but gifted Russian fin-de-siècle composer Koreshchenko. In our concert, the European composers wind up Cheek by Jowl with Americans Johnny Cash, Harold Rome, and Penny Prince, a New Yorker who writes rock musicals. The musical selections are interwoven with texts from the King James Bible through Robert Frost. Each iteration of the story heightens our sense of its drama and immediacy. The concert as a whole constitutes a sort of walking program note for our performance of William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast in Carnegie Hall in May."

Tickets for the March 7 concert are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, $25 for students and senior, and can be purchased online at

More event information at or call 646-638-2535. MTA transportation info -

Founded in 1906, The Cecilia Chorus of New York, winner of the ASCAP/Chorus America Alice Parker Award, has evolved into one of the finest avocational performing arts organizations in New York City. The 150-voice chorus has been 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 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 World Premiere of Fifty Trillion Molecular Geniuses by The Brothers Balliett. Much more at

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." The Star-Ledger calls his artistic leadership "erudite and far-reaching." Bio at

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