The Warwick Valley Chorale has announced that its new musical director and conductor will be local musician Ron DeFesi.
DeFesi, an Orange County native, has been known to music lovers in the region as the artistic director of the Hudson Opera Theatre since its founding in 1977.
A student of the Swedish conductor Sixten Ehrling while at the Juilliard School, he attended the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, Germany. He has a bachelor’s degree in pre-med from Manhattan College, and a graduate degree from New York University in Music Performance.
DeFesi succeeds Dennis English, a longtime Chorale member, career musician and music educator, who is currently the music director of the Warwick Methodist Church. As the WVC interim conductor, it was English who enabled the Chorale’s operation to proceed following the tragic death of Stanley Curtis in 2020 from COVID. Professor Curtis had been the Chorale’s conductor for 34 years and was largely responsible for the identity and success of the group.
Founded as the Warwick Summer Chorale in 1940, the Warwick Valley Chorale operates as a community chorus. No auditions are required, and singers of various abilities are welcomed. The goal of each member is to improve as a singer, and the overall aim of the group is to present the best concert performances each rehearsal season.
“Many of us have sung with Maestro DeFesi in the past, and his skill and energy are impressive and inspiring. To have him conduct the Warwick Chorale will provide a wonderful opportunity for all of us to reach another level of excellence,” said Chorale President Zoey Savale.
After eight decades of high-quality choral performances, always admission-free, in the lower Hudson Valley region, the group’s concerts have become a cultural fixture in the area. In addition, they have sung more than a dozen times at Carnegie Hall, as well as Lincoln Center, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and venues in France, Spain, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Australia and China.
The spring concerts, “Three B’s, Old and New,” will feature Beethoven’s Mass in C major. The program will also include works by Johannes Brahms and J.S. Bach, as well as selections by Leonard Bernstein, Irving Berlin and Jerry Bock (composer of Fiddler on the Roof).