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Leslie Parnas -- Biography


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Leslie Parnas enjoys a distinguished international career as one of the foremost cellists of his generation. Renowned not only for his technical prowess but also for the gorgeous depth of tone and profound musicality of his playing, Leslie Parnas is loved and admired by audiences, critics and fellow musicians the world over.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri to a musical family, he began studying the piano at the age of 5 and the cello at age 8. He progressed rapidly and made his solo debut at age 14 with the St. Louis Symphony. At 16, he entered the Curtis Institute, where he studied with Gregor Piatigorsky. For fourteen years, he was principal cellist of the Casals Festival Orchestra in Prades, France and Puerto Rico. In 1955, he became the principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He made his major recital debut at Town Hall in New York City in 1959.

Leslie Parnas counts as his musical mentors two legendary cellists of our time: Pablo Casals, with whom he studied and worked closely for many years, and Gregor Piatigorsky. In 1957, he won the Geneva and Munich International Cello Competitions, as well as the first Prix Pablo Casals at the Paris Competition. In 1962, Mr. Parnas triumphed at the Tchaikovsky International Competition; in 1990 and 1995, he returned to the Competition as a juror for this prestigious event.

Leslie Parnas has been honored with invitations to perform at the White House for Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. He is much celebrated in Russia, where he has returned repeatedly for performances of chamber music as well as appearances with the Leningrad Philharmonic. Mr. Parnas has performed with major orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston, National and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, and the Hamburg and Moscow Symphonies. He has worked under the direction of eminent conductors such as Eugene Ormandy, Erich Leinsdorf, Henryk Szeryng and Lorin Mazel, and has collaborated with numerous prominent artists including, among others, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Jaime Laredo, Joseph Suk, Alexander Schneider, and Rudolph Serkin.

Leslie Parnas has appeared at countless summer music festivals such as Mostly Mozart, Marlboro, Tanglewood, Casals, London and Spoleto; performed regularly as a charter member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; and toured widely with the Buswell-Parnas-Luvisi Trio. He was Artistic Director of the Kneisel Hall Summer Music School in Blue Hill, Maine for twelve years and currently serves on the faculty of Boston University.

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Last Updated: 27 August, 2006 by Marcel