Manhattan Choral Ensemble > About

About the Manhattan Choral Ensemble

MCE performing on the Today Show, Dec. 22, 2003

The Manhattan Choral Ensemble (MCE) is a registered non-profit 501(c)3 corporation in the state of New York, performing challenging choral repertoire and aspiring to the highest levels of musicianship. The group is comprised of 40 singers and rehearses weekly in mid-town Manhattan. Recent performances have included a concert with Baroque orchestra featuring the Vivaldi Gloria and a program of Christmas music from the Netherlands performed in the oldest Dutch church in New York City.


The MCE was formed in the fall of 2000 by Thomas Cunningham, the current music director, and Matt Laufer, the current president of the Board of Directors. The group was originally supported entirely by its members, presenting free concerts of choral music on the campus of Columbia University, where Mr. Laufer is a doctoral candidate in English. The choir quickly attracted a loyal following and began to expand its membership and its activities. In its second year, the MCE performed in conjunction with literary journal “McSweeney’s” at a book signing featuring David Eggers, Zadie Smith, and Neal Pollack, and traveled to Boston to perform a joint concert with the Boston Choral Ensemble. Highlights of the third year included a capacity performance at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and a concert as part of the Music at St. Paul’s concert series, featuring Randall Thompson’s The Peaceable Kingdom.

The MCE registered as a non-profit entity in the fall of 2002 and began to organize the structure of its governance more formally. With a strong Board of Directors, the MCE began a series of fundraising campaigns, including two very successful events: a night of stand-up comedy featuring Demetri Martin and a formal gala with a 7-piece Latin band. A combination of individual and corporate support, in conjunction with the funds raised from these events and from ticket sales, enabled the choir to hire a professional Baroque orchestra for a concert of Vivaldi and Pergolesi in March of 2004. Most recently, the choir was featured on the soundtrack of the Paramount Pictures film The Manchurian Candidate, directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.

Mission and Vision
The Manhattan Choral Ensemble (MCE) is a 40-voice community-based choir dedicated to the passionate performance of an international and historically varied repertoire. In celebration of New York City’s rich and diverse heritage, the MCE performs in historic New York spaces and creates concert events in partnership with the city’s cultural organizations. The MCE also fosters the musical life of the city through innovative commissioning projects focused on New York City composers.

(For photos of the choir, click here.)

Director Thomas Cunningham holds a master’s degree in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he is currently an adjunct assistant professor of conducting, and a bachelor’s degree in Music from Yale University. He formed the Manhattan Choral Ensemble with Manager Matthew Laufer in the fall of 2000 with a core of 16 singers. Under their leadership, the group has grown to an auditioned ensemble of 40 singers from all areas of New York City. Mr. Cunningham has also directed the Dartmouth College Chamber Singers and the Boston Choral Ensemble, and is currently the Assistant Conductor of the Masterwork Chorus in New Jersey.