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Press Release

Woodstock Chamber Orchestra Celebrates the String with Concert String Theory, February 29

Emily Darrow


Program Includes Works by Bach, Barber, Hofmann, and a World-Premiere Work
by Brian Fennelly

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Friday, February 29, concert “String Theory” by the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra (WCO) features a world premiere by Kingston resident Brian Fennelly, as well as works for strings by Bach, Barber, and Hofmann, with the Parnas Duo, guest artists. The program begins at 8:00 p.m. in Olin Hall at Bard College. Tickets are $17.00 for adults, $5.00 for students, and free to the Bard community with identification. [This program is repeated on Saturday, March 1, at 8:00 p.m. at Pointe of Praise Family Life Center, 243 Hurley Avenue, Kingston, and at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 2 at Bearsville Theater, Route 212, Woodstock.]

The concert is conducted by WCO artistic director David Leighton and guest conductor Robert Whalen ’08. The world premiere by Brian Fennelly is “Sigol” for Strings. “I wrote ‘Sigol’ for Strings for the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra,” explains Fennelly. “The name (Sigol) refers to my granddaughter and that theme, heard at the opening, is the musical basis for the entire work.” Leighton notes, “The polyphonic style of the music reflects earlier musical textures of the Renaissance fantasia and the Baroque fugue.”

Featured guests are the Parnas Duo—talented sisters, violinist Madalyn and cellist Cicely—who perform Leopold Hofmann’s Concerto for Violin and Cello. Rounding out the program are performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenberg Concerto No. 3 and his “Air” from Suite No. 3 in D, as well as Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

Kingston resident Brian Fennelly’s awards for musical composition include three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and he has received commissions from the Koussevitsky Foundation, Meet the Composer/Reader’s Digest, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, and Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra. In 1997 he received a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His compositions have been performed by the Rochester Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, American and Empire Brass Quintets, and Concord and Audubon String Quartets. In 1996 the WCO premiered his Reflections/Metamorphoses. Fennelly’s choral music has been performed by the Gregg Smith Singers and New York Virtuoso Singers. International performances include the Warsaw Autumn and ISCM World Music Days, and recordings feature the Louisville Orchestra, Polish Chamber Orchestra, Prague Radio Orchestra, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Polish Radio National Symphony.

WCO artistic director David Leighton is a graduate of The Juilliard School. When he was 22 years old, he was invited by Rafael Kubelik to the Metropolitan Opera as assistant chorus master and assistant conductor. Leighton has been recital accompanist for Luciano Pavarotti, Renata Scotto, Marilyn Horne, Montserrat Caballé, and Paul Plishka, and has conducted the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Dallas Opera; Nashville Opera; Anhaltisches Theater Dessau, Germany; Châtelet, Théâtre Musicale de Paris; and IRCAM (Pierre Boulez, director). He assisted the late Sir Georg Solti in the world premiere of Sir Michael Tippett’s Byzantium with the Chicago Symphony. As artistic director of the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany, he gave piano recitals and conducted performances featuring 20th-century masterpieces.

The Parnas Duo—Madalyn and Cicely Parnas—are granddaughters of legendary cellist Leslie Parnas. At age 10, Madalyn Parnas (now 16) was the youngest competitor to be awarded first prize in Berkshire Music School’s Merit Competition. She made her orchestral debut two years later, playing the Kabalevsky Violin Concerto with the WCO. She has since performed concerts with the Newburgh Symphony Orchestra, Georgia Philharmonic, and Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, among others. Cellist Cicely Parnas, 14, was awarded first prize by the Walden Chamber Players of Boston at age 9 and last year won three first prizes, including the Uel Wade Scholarship Competition, the Schenectady Symphony Stefan Concerto Competition, and the Berkshire Lyric Young Artist Competition. WCO audiences may remember her 2004 performance of the Monn Cello Concerto. The Parnas Duo just released a debut CD, Parnas Double, on the Sheffield Lab label.

Robert Whalen, a native of Tivoli, is a 2006 graduate of Cornell University with a B.A. in Music cum laude. During his time at Cornell, Whalen was founder and music director of CAgE, the Cornell Avant-garde Ensemble, for which he led 8 world premieres in three concert seasons, including his own award-winning ballet, Very Truly Yours. Since graduating from Cornell, he was selected as Conducting Fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and the Bard Conductors Institute. He is also active as a timpanist and percussionist with the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, the Bard Orchestra, and the Da Capo Chamber Players. Whalen is currently pursuing a master of fine arts degree in conducting at Bard College.

The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, formed in 1980 by musicians from the Woodstock area, comprises professional musicians from the entire Hudson Valley. WCO regularly commissions music by local and regional composers and each season performs in Woodstock, Kingston, Saugerties, and at Bard College.

Concluding the WCO season at Bard on Thursday, April 24, is a concert version of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Cheryl Warfield as Donna Anna, Aaron Sheya as Don Ottavio, Eowiyn Driscoll as Donna Elvira, Jeremy Silver as Don Giovanni, Anna Maniscalco as Zerlina, David Morrow as Leporello, and Eric Wieboldt as Commendatore/Masetto. Tickets are $17.00 for adults, $5.00 for students, and free to the Bard community with identification. (This program is repeated on Saturday, April 26, at 8:00 p.m. at Pointe of Praise Family Life Center, 243 Hurley Avenue, Kingston; and on Sunday, April 27, at 3:00 p.m. at the Reformed Church of Saugerties).

The WCO concerts at Bard are presented in cooperation with The Bard Center. For additional information or to purchase tickets, call 845-246-7045 or visit

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This event was last updated on 03-04-2008

Parnas Duo Brian Fennelly Robert Whalen