Drew Fennell joined the River City Brass in 1998 as Assistant Principal Solo Cornet, and currently occupies the position of Principal Solo Flugelhorn. He solos very frequently with the ensemble, both as a flugelhorn/trumpet player and as a singer. He also worked as Associate Conductor of the ensemble for ten years (1999-2009), and has conducted of the River City Youth Brass Band since 2005. He is a founding member of the River City 6. Beginning in 2007, he joined the faculty at Grove City College (PA) as Adjunct Professor of Trumpet.
A 1994 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, he studied with the inimitable Anthony Pasquarelli. Fennell performed extensively during this time, including several solo appearances with the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. After receiving his degree, he served as Principal Trumpet with the Butler, Altoona and Youngstown Symphonies, as well as a six-month appointment to the position of Second Trumpet with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, his solo playing has been heard locally and internationally in recital, and on International Public Radio.
In addition to playing, he has built a solid reputation as a fine composer and arranger. He has completed well over one-hundred projects for the River City Brass, a dozen of which appear on various RCB recordings. He also created arrangements for numerous other groups, such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale. His original compositions have been equally successful. As part of its Twentieth Anniversary Celebration, River City Brass commissioned Drew Fennell to compose a new piece for the band. Hometown Miniatures, an evocative musical depiction of life in a small town, has met with universally positive reviews, and is finding its way onto recommended repertoire lists and multiple honors band performances. Among other works of his, it can be heard on Polished Brass, RCB's most recent recording (2002). In 2003, he was commissioned, by Matthew Murchison, to compose a solo piece for euphonium and piano. After being premiered by the RCB in a version for brass band, Prescott Poem was recorded by Mr. Murchison and released on the album Everyone But Me (on the Mulholland Records label). More recently, he composed a three-movement Concerto (in honor of Anthony Pasquarelli) for solo trumpet and orchestra. He conducted the premiere in 2004, with the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic Orchestra, and David Gedris, trumpet soloist. A month later, in November of 2004, RCB premiered The Oval Office which features narration (created by Denis Colwell and Lanny Frattare) culled from United States Presidential speeches over the last two-hundred years. Lanny Frattare also narrated the performances. On Veterans Day, 2006, Arlington Anthem was premiered by the Enloe High School Band in Raleigh, NC. His newest piece, El Capitan (so named for the granite rock formation in Yosemite National Park), was premiered by the Wantagh High School Wind Ensemble (NY) on December, 20th, 2007. T Premiered in May, 2008, The Very Depths of Me is his first foray into choral music. It was commissioned by the Fox Chapel Area High School Madrigal Singers, Craig G. Cannon, Director. Song of Autumn (commissioned as part of the celebration of Pittsburgh's 250th Anniversary) premiered in performances by the River City Brass in October and November of 2008. The Butler Symphony Orchestra named Drew Fennell Composer of the Year for its 2008-09 60th Anniversary Season. The orchestra featured several existing works (Fanfare and Theme, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and Hometown Miniatures) as well as a new work entitled Apollo 11, which premiered on April 25, 2009.
Fennell is also in demand as a guest conductor. He has been guest conductor at a number of high school honors bands in Western Pennsylvania, and was engaged to conduct the Salt River Brass for performances in May of 2004.
He self-produced two recordings. La Réjouissance (from 1999) features trumpet and organ works from the Baroque Era; it is a joint venture with good friend and former RCBB Principal Eb Soprano Cornetist, David Gedris. In 2001, he arranged, composed and conducted all the music for his wedding, which he recorded on a compact disc entitled My Whole Heart.
In 2004, along with his wife, Krista, he founded the Trinity Concert Series, a successful recital series, held in their church, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Freeport, PA. 2011 will mark the eighth anniversary season of the recital series.
Additionally, he works as producer and editing consultant for various recording projects.
Drew is a 2006 inductee into the Ford City (PA) Area Hall of Fame.
To learn more about Drew, read a lot about his music, see a discography of his work, read his weblog, listen to lots of sounds and to read reviews, visit his website at www.drewfennell.com.
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