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Verde Valley Sinfonietta launches 15th season with cellist Cicely Parnas


Cicely Parnas will play the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in Eb with the Sinfonietta in the Sedona Performing Arts Center at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 10.

Cicely Parnas will play the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in Eb with the Sinfonietta in the Sedona Performing Arts Center at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 10.


Originally Published: November 4, 2019 10:06 a.m.

Nov. 10, Verde Valley Sinfonietta begins its 15th anniversary season with a return performance of its first “emerging artist,” cellist Cicely Parnas.

Cicely will play the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in Eb with the Sinfonietta in the Sedona Performing Arts Center at 2:30 p.m.

In 2007 at the age of 14 Cicely performed the Haydn C Major Concerto with the Sinfonietta in its home at the time, Church of the Red Rocks.

Her older sister Madalyn played the Mendelssohn E minor Concerto on the same concert. Since 2007 Cicely has gone on to an international career, with prestigious awards in her expanding resume.

Praised for her “velvety sound, articulate passagework, and keen imagination” (The New York Times), American cellist Cicely Parnas leads a dynamic career as an international performing artist.

At 19 years old, Cicely won first prize at the Young Concert Artists (YCA) International Auditions. Under the auspices of YCA, she presented recitals at such notable venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Additionally, she was featured as a guest artist with L’Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire in France, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and at YCA festivals in Beijing and Tokyo, among many others.

In the season following her tenure with YCA, Cicely was featured with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and at numerous summer music festivals, including the Brevard Music Festival, El Paso Pro Música, Northwest Bach Festival, and Sitka Summer Music Festival, where she has twice-served as Artist-Apprentice to Grammy award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey.

Cicely Parnas was named an inaugural Young Artist in Residence on NPR’s Performance Today in 2011, where she was featured in five broadcasts and an American Public Media video spotlight. She was the recipient of YCA’s Mortimer Levitt Career Development Award for Women Artists in 2012 and captured First Prize in the 2011 Cello Concerto Competition at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

Committed to the advancement of the cello repertoire, Cicely has premiered numerous works, including Jim McGrath’s “Concertino for Cello,” which she performed with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra. She also commissioned works for solo cello by two-time McKnight Artist Fellow Jocelyn Hagen, as well as Arsentiy Kharitonov.

In addition to her solo career, she also maintains an active performance schedule with Duo Parnas, a violin-cello duo with her sister, Madalyn Parnas. Together, they have recorded four albums and performed recitals and led masterclasses worldwide.

Granddaughter of distinguished cellist Leslie Parnas, Cicely started playing cello at the age of 4 and made her concerto debut at age 11. She has studied with Peter Wiley and Ron

Feldman and earned an Artist Diploma from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where she worked with Sharon Robinson.

Ms. Parnas performs on a 1712 Giovanni Grancino cello. Concert-goers interested in a preview of Cicely’s playing may find numerous examples on Youtube. One video recorded in 2008 – “A Cellist Auditions” -- is an insight into her humor as a teenager.

Music director Kevin Kozacek will conduct the Sunday afternoon program, entitled “Secrets Unmasked,” which, in addition to the Shostakovich concerto, includes Dvorák’s Czech Suite, Saint-Saëns Tarantelle for Flute, Clarinet and Orchestra, and an overture by the “other” Mendelssohn – Felix’s sister, Fanny.

Before the performance of each work Kozacek will reveal a “secret” about either the composer, the work’s conception or how it made its way into the repertoire.

The seldom performed Fanny Mendelssohn Overture is part of a season-long homage to women composers during this centenary year of the women’s suffrage movement and its culmination with granting of the vote to women in the US and abroad.

The Saint-Saëns Tarantelle is a lively mini-concerto featuring the orchestra’s principal flute, Jeannette Moore, and principal clarinet, Scott Richardson. The melodic Dvorák Czech Suite is a set of folk dance-like movements.

They contrast with the modern harmonies and rhythms of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1.

Renowned cellist Mstislav Rostropovich premiered the work in 1959 and it quickly became a staple of the cello concerto repertoire. It is considered one of the most demanding concertos for the soloist.

An after-concert reception featuring Cicely Parnas in a short solo cello performance will be held at the Greg Lawson Galleries, with refreshments provided by Gerardo’s Italian Kitchen. Reception tickets at $15 for this first 15th anniversary event are limited to 80 and must be purchased in advance at VVSinfonietta.org.

For discounted tickets, starting at $15, to the Nov. 10 “Secrets Unmasked” concert, visit the Sinfonietta’s website, VVSinfonietta.com.

While tickets will be available at the door for the concert, there is a $5.00 surcharge.

For more information about the Sinfonietta and the upcoming season, visit the Sinfonietta’s newly-designed website, VVSinfonietta.org.