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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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Warming up the choir

This photo was taken from the pre-concert warmup for Mendelssohn's Elijah with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra in October 2015.

A rather funny review

In his review, "NEW BEDFORD SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: Choral Societies augment Mendelssohn's last oratorio," critic Benjamin Dunham writes:
  Together with Teresa Coffman, Paul Cienniwa shared the duty of preparing the combined choruses, whose singing, whether in tutti or in assignments for women’s and men’s voices, provided a rich tapestry of vocal moods. Cienniwa also played Zeiterion’s theater organ in an accompanying role. If anyone could make this organ, so appropriate for silent movies, sound right in a workRead more

Review: NBSO offers a well-balanced 'Elijah'

New Bedford Standard-Times

By Keith Powers
Contributing writer
Posted Oct. 19, 2015 at 2:55 PM 
Choosing balance over power, maestro David MacKenzie and the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra continued the ensemble’s centenary anniversary season Sunday afternoon at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center.
Mendelssohn’s sweeping oratorio “Elijah” offers the choice. With extensive instrumentation, a vast chorus — in this case, combined choristers from Rhode Island College, Greater New Bedford Choral Society, and
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Music at First Church in Boston

In Gibbons’s ‘Cries,’ a social portrait, and a subtle warning

By Matthew Guerrieri Boston GLOBE CORRESPONDENT  


"Any Kitchen Stuff.”

Today, First Church in Boston offers a special service marking Boston Charter Day (which was officially celebrated on Sept. 7), commemorating the 1630 formal creation of what was then the town of Boston. The service’s music re-creates something of what Boston’s first English settlers left behind, by means of works by a who’s…

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A most excellent book review!

Paul Cienniwa. By Heart: The Art of Memorizing Music. Reviewed by Mark Kroll
EMAg, The Magazine of Early Music America


Playing from memory can be the elephant in the room, the “Waterloo” for many performers. I’ve used more than enough clichéd, I’ll ask a few questions. Who is to blame for starting a practice that is now standard, at least among pianists? And memorization is so difficult and potentially traumatic, why do it at all? Perhaps more important: if we must play from memory, how do you learn to do…

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©2016 Paul Cienniwa