Cicely Parnas
cellist
photo by Michael Polito


BIOGRAPHY

20-year-old American cellist Cicely Parnas is recognized for bringing “velvety sound, articulate passagework and keen imagination” to her performances (The New York Times). As First Prize Winner of the 2012 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, she will be presented this season in debuts in New York in the Rhoda Walker Teagle Concert, and in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center. Ms. Parnas’ 2013-14 season also includes recitals at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, Vanguard Concerts, the Jewish Community Alliance, and the Washington Center for the Performing Arts, and appearances as concerto soloist with the Long Bay Symphony, the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, the Rochester Chamber Orchestra, and the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, where she performs the world premiere of Jim McGrath’s Concertino for Cello.

In 2012, Cicely Parnas made her Carnegie Hall debut performing the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto with the New York String Orchestra under the baton of Jaime Laredo. The New York Times raved, “Cicely Parnas, a fast-rising young cellist, was the impressive soloist in a rhapsodic performance.” She has performed the Elgar Concerto with the Vermont Symphony led by Mr. Laredo, and has toured France performing the Saint-Saëns Concerto with L’Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire under John Axelrod. Other international appearances include her participation in the 2013 Young Concert Artists Festivals in Tokyo and Beijing. Ms. Parnas has been heard as an inaugural Young Artist in Residence on NPR’s Performance Today Series. She holds the Anne and George Popkin Cello Chair of the YCA and was the recipient of YCA’s Mortimer Levitt Career Development Award for Women Artists in 2012. Among many other prizes, she won the 2011 Artistic Excellence Award and First Prize in the Cello Concerto Competition at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Ms. Parnas frequently performs and records with her sister, violinist Madalyn Parnas, in the duo parnas. The duo performed as soloists with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic under Randall Fleisher, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra at the El Paso Pro-Musica Festival under Lawrence Loh, and the Albany Symphony Orchestra under David Alan Miller, as well as in many recitals with Peter Serkin as the Parnas/Serkin Trio. Debut performances for the duo parnas in the upcoming season include a program of string trios with Timothy Kantor at Maverick Concerts, performances of the Brahms Double Concerto with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, and chamber music performances at the Shanghai International Music Festival.

The duo parnas will release their third album on the Sheffield Lab label this summer. duo parnas NOW (2014) features award-winning composers of the 21st century, including Lera Auerbach, William Bolcom, Paul Moravec, and Charles Wuorinen. Earlier releases, Parnas Double (2008) and Gare du Nord (2010), have received international recognition, the latter also named on Gene Gaudette’s “Top Ten New Releases of 2010.” On Albany Records, The Other Side of Time (2012), an album of works by composer Brian Fennelly, features the duo parnas as soloists with the Indiana University New Music Ensemble under the artistic direction of David Dzubay in a live performance of Fennelly’s double concerto, Fantasia Concertante. The duo also recorded Fantasia Concertante with the Fauxharmonic Orchestra, an orchestra of digital instruments conducted by Paul Henry Smith.

Granddaughter of the distinguished cellist Leslie Parnas, Cicely Parnas started playing the cello at the age of four and made her concerto debut at eleven with the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra. She has studied with cellists Peter Wiley and Ronald 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. Last updated: 04/01/2014

REVIEWS

"Self-possessed and prepossessing, Parnas is musically poised beyond her 20 years. Her bow-arm is perfection itself, and with it she scults phrases of lapidary detail. She already understands that, on a stringed instrument, there is as much beauty to be found between the notes as during them. The clarity of articulation in the passagework and the skill with which she shaped lyrical lines were startling. This was artistry that cannot be taught; the musician simply owns it."
--Robert Battey, The Washington Post

"Cicely Parnas, a fast-rising young cellist, was the impressive soloist in a rhapsodic performance of Saint-Saen's Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor... Ms. Parnas brought velvety sound, articulate passagework and keen imagination to her performance, abetted all the way by Mr. Laredo and his players."
--Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

"In this compact five-movement work, Hindemith probes the cello’s full range and technical resources, and provides a measure of emotional heft as well. Ms. Parnas played it with focused intensity, attention to Hindemith’s constantly changing textures and an appealing touch of wildness when the music was at its most heated."
--Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

"...an astonishing mix of pungency and finesse."
--Berkshire Record

"...possessed of prodigious technique and an Olympic gymnast's poise."
--Daily Freeman

"This is a technically demanding piece that combines idiomatic lyricism and warmth in its slow passages and fiery passion in its perpetual-motion finale. Miss Parnas accomplished all of these feats with a sensitivity and technique far surpassing her young years."
--Arizona Daily Sun

"...she played with an impressive drama and phrasing that sounded more mature than her years. Yet she backed these up with a palpable passion and flair for the romantic line."
--Schenectady Daily Gazette


REPERTOIRE WITH ORCHESTRA

DELIUS Cello Concerto

DVORÁK Silent Woods, Op.68, No.5
Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op.104

ELGAR Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op.85

HAYDN Cello Concerto No.1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb:1
Cello Concerto No.2 in D Major, Hob. VIIb:2

KABALEVSKY Cello Concerto No.1, Op.49

KHACHATURIAN Cello Concerto in E Minor

LALO Cello Concerto in D Minor

MARTINU Cello Concerto No.1 in D Major, H.196
Cello Concerto No.2, H.304

MONN Cello concerto in G Minor

PROKOFIEV Sinfonia Concertante, Op.125

SAINT–SAËNS Cello Concerto No.1 in A Minor, Op.33

SCHUMANN Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op.129

SHOSTAKOVICH Cello Concerto No.1 in E-flat Major, Op.107