Latest News

Messiah community singalong

I will be leading a community singalong Messiah in New Bedford, MA on Sunday, November 27 at 4pm. This charity event will be made up of singers from across the community, and you are cordially invited to come sing or just listen--all in support of local charities. 

For more details, including an electronic signup form, click here: 

You'll also find a press release below. Please help to get the word out! 


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Old songs presented in a new way is an ALLISON treat

SouthCoast Today 
Posted Jul. 28, 2016 at 2:01 AM 

LITTLE COMPTON — ALLISON will perform music from their debut CD, “Volume One,” featuring songs of Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Graham Nash, and more on Aug. 4 at St. Andrews by-the-Sea in Little Compton. 

ALLISON is the creation of mezzo-soprano Allison Messier and harpsichordist Paul Cienniwa. 

"Because we are both classically trained musicians, we also offer music of the Elizabethan and baroque periods," Messier said, adding, "The songs, famous and…

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Musical Chairs

Those who keep up with my news will remember that I was hired as Director of the Collegiate Chorale at Stonehill College back in 2014, just in time to start teaching the 2015 spring semester (

On a different note, in February I started teaching private piano one day a week at the Music School of the Rhode Island Philharmonic. The last time I had a studio of pianists was around 1997, when I was a…Read more

The Candy Store

Singer/songwriter Peter Neuendorffer is a member of the congregation at First Church in Boston. He has played for services on occasion, and his song "The Candy Store" has always struck me as something I'd like to set for choir.

I rarely compose music, and I sat on this project for a long time. I finally got around to it this spring, and the end result is below. I am happy to say that Peter was able to attend the service when it was sung.


For the full text and a link to Peter's original song, click this link…

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Performers Who Listened To Their Audience

By Paul Bubluski | Newport Mercury | April 19, 2016 

Boasting over 40-years of combined performing experience, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which career-musicians Allison Messier and Paul Cienniwa would be caught off guard onstage. That is, however, exactly what happened during the duo’s June 2015 recital at Little Compton’s St. Andrews-by-the-Sea. 

After performing classical and baroque music together for about four years, Cienniwa, of Fall River, Massachusetts, was thrilled when Messier, a…

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Folk rock and classical fare find a match

MANCHESTER — Think Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Graham Nash-meets-Elizabethan composers. Mezzo-soprano Allison Messier teams up with harpsichordist Paul Cienniwa in a CD-release concert at 4 p.m. Sunday at The Derryfield School Performing Arts Auditorium, 2108 River Road. 

The duo – collectively known as ALLISON – aptly named its debut recording “Volume One.” 

“Last summer we gave a recital in Rhode Island,” Messier said. “For that program, we performed a lot of music by people like Joni Mitchell, Cat…

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'Twice the Fun'--outstanding in every respect

by Jonathan F. Babbitt

LITTLE COMPTON--On Sunday afternoon the 6th of March, Little Compton was treated to a program, as beautifully executed as it was creatively conceived. Performers Paul Cienniwa (organist and choirmaster at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Boston) and Michael Bahmann (director of music at United Congregational Church of Little Compton) offered "Twice the Fun: Music for Two Fortepianos" in the Sanctuary of United Congregational Church, and the Musica Maris presentation… Read more

Little Compton’s ’Allison’ releases first CD — baroque meets rock

EastBayRI, March 8, 2016

Under the name of “Allison,” Little Compton resident Allison Messier and Fall River resident Paul Cienniwa have released their debut CD, “Allidson: Volume One.” The recording is a collection of songs by Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Phil Ochs, Neil Young, Billy Joel, and Graham Nash, along with baroque songs by John Dowland and Henry Purcell. 

Why the baroque songs? Because Alisson is a duo made up of a classically trained mezzo-soprano and a harpsichordist. 

“As classical…

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Via Spector and serendipity, the harpsichord invaded pop


On Jan. 24, ALLISON — mezzo-soprano Allison Messier and harpsichordist Paul Cienniwa — performs at Quincy’s Thomas Crane Public Library. The duo’s raison d’être, re-interpreting rock and popular repertoire with Baroque sensibility, puts an old spin on newer music, but also a new spin on a less-old but rich tradition: pop music borrowing classical trappings. The harpsichord’s pop history, in particular, is a diverting tangle of aesthetics…

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Tribute to Sandy Hook victims set to Obama’s words


By Stratford Star on December 14, 2015


Former Newtown resident Eleanor Miller composed a piece to pay tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings on Dec. 14, 2012.  It uses text extracted and edited from remarks delivered by President Barack Obama at Newtown High School on Dec. 16, 2012.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy has directed U.S. and Connecticut flags to fly at half-staff on Monday, Dec. 14, from sunrise to sunset in honor of the 20 children and six adults who were killed three years ago at…

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"By Heart" reviewed in The Diapason

By Heart: The Art of Memorizing Music, by Paul Cienniwa, reviewed December 2015, The Diapason

"...the skills and techniques [the author] describes in memorizing are important for all performers, regardless of their instrument. Cienniwa writes in a direct, conversational style. This book...will serve as a guide to thoughtful performers, whether they play from memory or a score."--Sarah Mahler Kraaz, The Diapason
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©2016 Paul Cienniwa