Noted Pianist Michael Fennelly to Perform in Morris Choral Society's 5/20 Concert

Jason Tramm and the Morris Choral Society welcome acclaimed pianist Michael Fennelly who will perform Beethoven's exquisite "Choral Fantasy, Op. 80" this Saturday May 20th at the Dorothy Young Concert Hall at Drew University. Mr. Fennelly will perform the famed concerto which Beethoven himself premiered in 1808 in in lieu of Italian pianist Cristiana Pegoraro, who is indisposed.

Mr Fennelly will join the Morris Choral Society, the MidAtlantic Opera Orchestra, renowned violinist Byung-Kook Kwak under the baton of Jason C. Tramm in "Peace, Triumphant Peace. The Morris Choral Society's concert program will include the New Jersey premiere of contemporary composer Karl Jenkins' epic choral work "The Peacemakers." Scored for full orchestra and choir, "The Peacemakers" employs instrumental sounds not generally heard in the symphonic repertoire. Noted Korean -American violinist Byung-Kook Kwak serves as both concertmaster and featured soloist, performing Jenkins' challenging violin solo movements, a signature feature of Jenkins' compositions.

Praised as a pianist with "flair and energy" (The New York Times), Michael Fennelly's recordings include The Legend of Faust: Part One, Debut, and Grand Tour. This season he is the soloist with the National Chorale in his own arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue for solo piano, orchestra, and symphonic chorus at Lincoln Center. He conducts a new opera From My Mother's Mother by Jeeyoung Kim for the Korean Cultural Center, NYC, and performs in concert with Renée Fleming and Emmy nominee Tituss Burgess. Last season Michael Fennelly established the Athena Music Foundation and toured China, Macau, and Hong Kong with several rising opera stars of the Metropolitan Opera. He performed in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, and throughout the US in concert, and was the soloist and premiered his choral arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra.

In 2014-2015 Michael Fennelly was the music director for La Cenerentola with New York City Opera, performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic conducted by JoAnn Falletta in the Moross Symphony no. 1, and was the music director for La traviata and appeared in The Paris Salon with the Berkshire Theater Festival. He collaborated with conductor Alan Gilbert on Gloria - A Pig Tale with the New York Philharmonic, as well as several productions with Gotham Opera. Michael Fennelly conducted Madama Butterfly with Amore Opera, and was the music director and pianist for Porgy and Bess with the Tillis Center for the Performing Arts in Long Island.

Michael Fennelly has the distinction of being named a Bösendorfer Artist, and represented the US on a tour of Japan for the State Department. He has performed in many of the world's great concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall), Munich's Prinzregenten Theatre, and Berlin's Komische Oper. His recitals have been broadcast on WQXR (New York City) and NDR Radio (Germany). On film, he appeared as the young Harry Truman (who initially trained to become a concert pianist) for PBS' American Experience.

A versatile and remarkable musician, Michael Fennelly played the Beethoven Choral Fantasy and Mozart's two piano concerto K.365 with the Saddleback Master Chorale, performed with the Talich Quartet in the Shostakovich Piano Quintet, Op.57, and conducted Lucia di Lammermoor in concert at Carnegie Hall. He was the head coach/pianist for Lyric Opera Virginia's production of La traviata, Opera Grand Rapid's La bohème, and the Buck Hill-Skytop Festival's production of La traviata. He assisted in several productions with Gotham Opera and in the premiere of John Musto's The Inspector with Wolf Trap Opera. In the 2011-2012 season Michael Fennelly conducted Eric Salzman's Big Jim and the Small Time Investors and Arlene Sierra's Faustine with the Center for Contemporary Opera, as well as many operas with Lyric Opera New York. He was the assistant conductor for Il barbiere di Siviglia and The King and I with Ash Lawn Opera.

The Californian made his first concerto appearance at age ten, and subsequently performed with many orchestras throughout California, including the Orange County Philharmonic, Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, Santa Clara Symphony and the South Coast Symphony Orchestra. While still in high school, he was flown to New York as a last-minute replacement for a soloist with the New York Virtuosi Orchestra, and performed Brahms' First Piano Concerto in Germany. He has performed concertos with the Manhattan Symphony and with the Barge Festival, and has participated in many world premieres, including Blitzstein's Cain for the American Composers Alliance.

Michael Fennelly was the United States winner of the Horowitz Competition, and made his Carnegie Hall solo recital debut as winner of the Artist International Competition. He was a prize-winner of the Young Artist Peninsula Music Festival, and the Young Keyboard Artist Association. He has performed in Moscow Conservatory's International Chopin Symposium, New York's Schoenberg Music Festival, and Italy's Wilhelm Kempff Beethoven Seminar, and in master classes under John O'Connor, Richard Goode, and Abbey Simon.

Michael Fennelly's early piano teachers were Trula Whelan and Earl Voorhies in California. He attended the Eastman School of Music as a pupil of Dr. Nelita True, and was awarded the prestigious Performer's Certificate. He continued his Masters and Doctoral studies with Byron Janis and Dr. Marc Silverman at the Manhattan School of Music, where he received the school's special prize for chamber music and completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree with a dissertation on Metric Structure.

Dr. Fennelly was a staff pianist and coach for several years with The Juilliard School. He instituted a chamber music program and worked with Lorin Maazel at the Castleton Festival, and has performed recitals with members of the New York Philharmonic and soloists from the Metropolitan Opera. Michael Fennelly has performed for the Aristotle Onassis Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kosciuszko Foundation, the Opera Index Foundation, Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, Allied Tours, Joy in Singing, and the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

Jason C. Tramm (Conductor) Morris Choral Society Music Director, Jason C. Tramm is a seasoned professional conductor and artistic director whose work in the operatic, symphonic and choral realms has received critical acclaim throughout the Unites States and abroad. Maestro Tramm serves as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the MidAtlantic Opera with whom he made his Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium) in 2015 with his critically acclaimed "Prayer for Peace" concert. He also serves as the Music Director/Principal Conductor of Teatro Lirico d'Europa, a touring professional opera company, with whom he will conduct Madama Butterfly (Puccini), Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini), Rigoletto (Verdi) and Aida (Verdi) in the 2017-18 season in theaters in Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Massachusetts. He will also be returning this season as guest conductor for Opera New Hampshire (Manchester, New Hampshire) and Palmetto Opera (Columbia, South Carolina). Last season's tour repertoire included Turandot (Puccini), Madama Butterfly (Puccini), La Traviata (Verdi) and Carmen (Bizet).

An accomplished educator, Tramm serves on the faculty at Seton Hall University as Director of Choral Activities, where he leads the University Choir, Chamber Choir, Orchestra, and teaches voice and conducting. He is also actively sought as a clinician and regularly presents lectures. Dr. Tramm was named the 2017 University Faculty Teacher of the Year by Seton Hall University. He holds degrees in music from the Crane School, the Hartt School, and a DMA in Conducting from Rutgers University, where he was the recipient of their prestigious Presidential Fellowship. In 2003, he joined the ranks of Metropolitan Opera Stars Renee Fleming and Stephanie Blythe in being honored with the Rising Star Award from the SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association.

Currently in his 11th season as Director of Music, in Residence, of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, Tramm leads the choral, orchestral, and oratorio performances in the 6,500-seat historic Great Auditorium in the summer months. In addition to the historic Ocean Grove Choir Festival, the largest sacred music festival on the East Coast, Tramm conducts orchestral and sacred masterworks. He has appeared on two National Public Radio broadcasts with organ virtuoso Gordon Turk and Gordon Turk and a large orchestra. He also serves as the Artistic Advisor/Conductor of the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra, with whom he will conduct Brahms Symphony No. 4 and Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto (Drew Petersen, Soloist) in January of 2018. Tramm led the NJ State Opera as principal conductor and Artistic Director from 2008 to 2012, where he collaborated with some of the finest voices in opera, including Samuel Ramey, Vladimir Galouzine, Angela Brown, Gregg Baker, and Paul Plishka. His 2009 HDTV broadcast with PBS affiliate NJN of "Verdi Requiem: Live from Ocean Grove," garnered a regional Emmy Award nomination.

A frequent guest conductor, Jason Tramm has led operatic and symphonic performances in Italy, Romania, Albania, and Hungary, where he recorded an album of rarely heard French operatic arias with the Szeged Symphony. In July 2017, he has been invited to conduct the Narnia Arts Festival (Narni, Italy), where he will conduct fully-staged performances of Puccini's Suor Angelica and Gianni Schichi at the Teatro del Opera.

Byung-Kook Kwak (Violinist) enjoys a versatile career as a soloist, chamber musician, and educator. He has received critical acclaim for his performances with orchestras such as Baltimore Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, American Symphony, and the Los Angeles Chamber Symphony. In Europe, he has appeared as a soloist with Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Cologne Radio Orchestra, Bamberger Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, and French National Orchestra.

An active chamber musician, Mr. Kwak is a member of the Sea Cliff Chamber Players. He is also very active as a concertmaster and appears in that capacity with virtually every major symphony orchestra around the Metropolitan New York area. He has been the conductor of the Summit Music Festival Orchestra for the past five years, has conducted the Queens Symphony Orchestra, and the Manhattan School of Music Summer Festival Orchestra in the summer of 1999. He has also been active as a choral conductor for over twenty years. He has been an assistant to Aaron Rosand at Mannes College of Music for ten years, and he is currently a faculty member at Manhattan School of Music Pre-College, Lehman College, Queens College, Westchester Conservatory of Music, and chairman of strings at Jewish Academy of Fine Arts.


Celebrating its 44th year, the Morris Choral Society is one of Northern New Jersey's oldest and most active and beloved not for profit arts organizations dedicated to enhancing community life by performing and presenting the highest quality classical choral repertoire from the last three centuries. Since its founding in 1973 the Morris Choral Society (MCS) has dedicated itself to the residents of Morris County and has played a significant role in Northern New Jersey's artistic community, nominated by its peers for the 2016 New Jersey People's Choice Award, Choral Group Division. Traditionally each performance season includes two major concerts as well as several concert appearances at many of Morristown's annual celebrations: Independence Day, the historical Holly Walk, its popular Fall Festival On the Green, and First Night. The MCS has performed with Judy Collins in her Christmas Show; with Dave Brubeck in La Fiesta de la Posada, at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. The Morris Choral Society has received international recognition performing successful concerts in England in 1990, Ireland in 1994, Scotland and Wales in 1996, France in 1998 and Italy in the summer of 2000. The MCS has been represented by "ambassadorial" choral contingents in multi-choral units in Eastern Europe in 1997 and 2000. Over the past 5 decades the MCS has assembled a vast and varied musical repertoire, the cornerstone of which is an impressive library of music from the Renaissance to the present. Since 2010 the Morris Choral Society sponsors an annual scholarship open to New Jersey residents or students currently attending a New Jersey school, age 19 or older who are pursuing a major or course of study in one of the following disciplines: vocal performance, vocal conducting, or music education with a major in voice.

MCS is home to the popular sextet, Express Male a lively, fun-filled sextet with a dazzling repertoire consisting of serious choral pieces, traditional gospel songs, Broadway favorites and a variety of popular tunes. Formed four years ago as an independent vocal ensemble within The Morris Choral Society, Express Male continues to entertain audiences at major MCS concerts and is featured in concerts throughout the region.

"Peace, Triumphant Peace!" and the work of the MCS, is funded in part by Morris Arts, through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Department, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. To learn more about the Morris Choral Society and its programming visit

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