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Musical revue to feature local teachers

April 21, 2016
Westfield Republican

The 1891 Fredonia Opera House will present a special musical revue featuring high school music faculty from throughout Chautauqua County, including two Chautauqua Lake teachers and one from Westfield, on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. The program is titled An Evening of Sondheim and will celebrate the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim one of today's most iconic Broadway theatre composers.

An American composer and lyricist known for more than a half-century of work, Sondheim has received an Academy Award; eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer, including a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre); eight Grammy Awards; a Pulitzer Prize; the Laurence Olivier Award (Britain's Tony); and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is described by critic Frank Rich of the New York Times as "now the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theatre."

Some of Sondheim's best-loved songs will be featured in this special revue, including favorites from: "Assassins," "Follies," "Gypsy," "Into the Woods," "A Little Night Music," "Merrily We Roll Along" and "Sweeney Todd," among others. Directed by Chautauqua Lake High School's Jennifer Davis, this production features solo and ensemble performances by Julie Constantini, Davis, Jim Foley, Kent and Nannette Knappenberger, Katie Ryan and Steve Wendell.

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Jennifer Davis

Constantini is the vocal music teacher and musical director at Maple Grove Jr./Sr. High School. A resident of Jamestown, she received her bachelors in music education from the State University of New York at Fredonia, and her masters in administration from the University of Pittsburgh. At the Lucille Ball Little Theatre, in Jamestown, she has played the roles of Maria in "Sound of Music," Grace in "Annie", and ensemble roles in "Chicago," "Spamalot," "Ring of Fire" and "Forbidden Broadway." Last fall, she played Cosette in "Les Miserables" at Jamestown Community College. She was the winner of the second season of Chautauqua's Got Talent.

Davis is a vocal and general music teacher at Chautauqua Lake Secondary School in Mayville. She directs three vocal ensembles plus teaching general music, guitar, songwriting and piano/theory. A native of Rochester, Davis earned a bachelor of music degree from SUNY Fredonia and a master of music from the Eastman School of Music. Davis has performed regionally in shows at the Lucille Ball Little Theatre.

Foley has lived and worked in Jamestown for 15 years. He teaches instrumental music at Maple Grove Jr./Sr. High School, where he also coaches track and field and is starting a judo program. He has appeared on stage at the Lucille Ball Little Theater, as well as Scharmann Theater at Jamestown Community College, in such roles as King Arthur in "Spamalot," Gomez Addams in "The Addams Family", Felix Unger in "The Odd Couple" and Javert in "Les Miserables." He is active as a tubist with the Jamestown Community Orchestra, Chautauqua Concert Band, and formerly with the Jubilee Brass Quintet.

Kent Knappenberger is active as a performer on harp, piano, Irish whistle and mandolin. He has performed with the Pennsylvania Chamber Symphony, the Chautauqua Festival Orchestra, and on mandolin with the Grammy-winning band, Los Lonely Boys. He is active as a guest speaker and advocate for music education and his audiences have included the New York State PTA, the American Guernsey Association and the National Association of Music Merchants in Washington D.C. He is the recipient of the NYSSMA Distinguished Service Award and the Inaugural Grammy Music Educator Award. He makes his home in Westfield, where he has taught music for 27 years.

Nannette Knappenberger is active as a private voice teacher and performer in Chautauqua County. She performs regularly with her husband, Kent, and has been heard at the Fredonia Opera House, at the Chautauqua Institution Sunday afternoon concert series and on Rolling Hills Radio. She is a graduate of the SUNY Fredonia School of Music.

Ryan is a trained vocalist with more than 16 years of classical, jazz and theatrical performing experience. She received her bachelor of music education and masters of music education from SUNY Fredonia, where she studied under the tutelage of Dr. Gwen Coleman-Detwiler. She has received solo and ensemble musical honors and has performed in numerous venues and productions, including recent local productions of "Annie," "White Christmas," "Chicago" and "Spamalot" at the Lucille Ball Little Theater. She teaches general and vocal music at Chautauqua Lake Central School, where she has five choirs under her direction.

Wendell lives in Fredonia and teaches at Silver Creek Central School. He has directed several musicals at Fredonia High School, including "Into the Woods" and "Godspell," and has been the acting coach for each musical since, including this year's recent Aida. He also has performed in several musicals in Jamestown including "Chicago," "Spamalot" and "The Addams Family."

Tickets to An Evening of Sondheim are $15 ($10 students) and may be purchased in person at the Opera House Box Office or by phone at 679-1891, Tuesday-Friday, 1-5 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at anytime.

The performance is presented, in part, with support from the United Arts Appeal of Chautauqua County, the Arts Services Initiative of WNY Inc., and the Give for Greatness program.

The 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. A complete schedule of Opera House events is available at



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