Brian Fennelly wins 2009 composition contest

The judges of the fourth annual Fauxharmonic International Composition Competition have selected Brian Fennelly’s work “Fantasia Concertante” for violin, cello and orchestra as the winning entry.  The work will be performed during the coming season by Duo Parnas and the Fauxharmonic Orchestra.

About Brian Fennelly

Brian Fennelly (born 1937) studied at Yale with Mel Powell, Donald Martino, Allen Forte, Gunther Schuller and George Perle (M.Mus 1965, Ph.D. 1968). From 1968 to 1997 he was Professor of Music in the Faculty of Arts and Science at New York University, where he is now Professor Emeritus. In addition to a Guggenheim fellowship, his awards include three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, two commissions from the Koussevitsky Foundation as well as commissions from the Fromm Foundation, Meet the Composer/Reader’s Digest, and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. In 1997 he received a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been awarded composer residencies at the Rockefeller Foundation Center in Bellagio (Italy), Camargo Foundation in Cassis (France), Bogliasco Foundation (Italy), and Copland House (NY).

His music has been awarded prizes in many competitions, which include the Goffredo Petrassi Competition for Orchestral Music (1993), International Trumpet Guild Competition (First Prize, 1990), the Louisville Orchestra New Music Competition (First Prize, 1986), Shreveport Symphony Competition (1981), and the Premio Citta di Trieste (1981). Twenty-five of his works appear on CD, with orchestral and chamber music released on the New World, CRI, Troy, Pro Viva, First Edition, Capstone, and New Ariel labels. Releases of orchestral music include Fantasy Variations, In Wildness is the Preservation of the World, On Civil Disobedience, Chrysalis, Thoreau Fantasy No. 2, and A Sprig of Andromeda, the last five all Thoreau-inspired works.

Brian Fennelly’s music has been performed by several orchestras including the Rochester Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, and The Louisville Orchestra, as well as by chamber ensembles such as the American and Empire Brass Quintets, and the Concord and Audubon String Quartets. His choral music has been sung by the Gregg Smith Singers and the New York Virtuoso Singers, among others. International performances include two at the Warsaw Autumn (Poland) and four at the ISCM World Music Days (Iceland, Israel, Belgium, and Canada), with recordings by The Louisville Orchestra, Polish Chamber Orchestra, Prague Radio Orchestra, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Polish Radio National Symphony, as well as acclaimed chamber ensembles and soloists.

Fennelly’s music is published by Margun Music (Schirmer), MMB Music (St. Louis), Pro Nova (Munich), Ricordi (Milan), Earnestly Music (Sharon, MA) and American Composers Edition (New York), among others. In addition to composing and teaching, he has been active as a pianist and also as an officer and board member in a number of music organizations; he also co-directs the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society, which he founded in 1976.

Fennelly resides in Kingston, New York with his wife Jacqueline, who played French horn with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic for many years. Liam Fennelly, a son from a previous marriage, is a viola da gamba player living and working in Europe.

About the contest judges

Ruth Mendelson, composer

A New York Times Critics’ Pick, composer/instrumentalist/producer/arranger/editor Ruth Mendelson has been writing award-winning scores for film, HBO, A&E, Discovery Channel, Disney, Animal Planet, The Learning Channel, PBS, CBS, and NBC (among others), as well as creating innovative multi-media “surround-scapes” for over 20 years.  She was the first woman in the history of Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA) to teach in the Film Scoring Department, which she enjoys part-time to this day.  An active studio musician, Ruth has been featured playing a number of instruments in a wide variety of genres with artists in LA, New York Boston, Europe and India.  She is also a guest lecturer, music director and author. She has performed at the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, as bassist for the One Human Family Gospel Choir, and is currently collaborating with renowned primatologist  Dr. Jane Goodall on a variety of youth empowerment and environmental projects.  Ruth is founder and president of Eagle Vision Initiatives, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving society through communications and the arts.  Eagle Vision’s premier initiative, the WELL WISHES Project, is now successfully establishing unprecedented  lines of communication and resources between the world’s youth.  Her deepest commitment is to be of service and assist in bringing love, compassion and positive change to society via a wide range of creative projects and programs.

Leo Eguchi, cellist

Cellist Leo Eguchi enjoys a very active and multi-faceted performance schedule – he can be heard as a the cellist of Xanthos, a contemporary music ensemble in residence at Boston University, as a founding member of the (fully collaborative) Kalistos Chamber Orchestra, assistant principal of the conductor-less Camerata New England, principal of the New Bedford Symphony, a member of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra and the Portland Symphony, as well as in frequent appearances with the Boston Pops Esplanade, Rhode Island Philharmonic and Boston Lyric Opera Orchestras.

A strong advocate of new music, Mr. Eguchi has premiered dozens of pieces by and worked closely with many notable composers, including William Bolcom, Bright Sheng, George Crumb, Lukas Foss, Joan Tower, Ken Ueno, Yehudi Wyner, Gabriela Lena Frank and Michael Daugherty.  Steve Smith of the The New York Times recently raved about a Xanthos concert featuring Mr. Eguchi, “…in the hands of musicians so copiously skilled and confident, this undeniably challenging music had genuine appeal.”  Aside from Xanthos, Mr. Eguchi performs with contemporary music groups such as Brave New Works, Firebird Ensemble, White Rabbit and ALEA III.  Mr. Eguchi also loves to play recitals and chamber music – he was a founding member of the Lunaire String Quartet and has performed with Chameleon Arts Ensemble and the Walden Chamber Players.  Other recent chamber music and solo highlights include performances with members of the New Hampshire Music Festival, BMOP’s “Club Café” series and participation in the Educational Bridge program – an exchange tour of Russia and collaboration with Moscow Conservatory musicians.  In addition to his classical career, Mr. Eguchi can be heard on stages ranging from intimate klezmer ensembles to stadium rock shows.

A native of Michigan, Mr. Eguchi began his cello studies at the age of twelve with Eva Ell and Louis Potter Jr. (author of The Art of Cello Playing).  He holds Bachelor’s degrees with honors in both Physics and in Cello Performance from the University of Michigan, where he studied cello with Anthony Elliott. Graduate studies then followed at Boston University on the Dean’s Scholarship, where he was a student of George Neikrug and recipient of the String Department Award for Excellence, upon completion of his Master’s degree.
Markand Thakar

Markand Thakar, conductor

Markand Thakar is music director of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra. Former assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, he has conducted orchestras across the United States and Canada. Other Baltimore Chamber Orchestra recordings for Naxos conducted by Markand Thakar include a disc of concertos by Ignaz Pleyel, and a disc of viola concertos by Carl Stamitz and Franz Anton Hoffmeister. Thakar, a protégé of Sergiu Celibidache, is the author of Counterpoint: Fundamentals of Music-Making (Yale University Press) and Looking for the Harp Quartet: An Investigation into Musical Quality, and is co-director (with Gustav Meier) of the graduate conducting program at the Peabody Conservatory.

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