Summer Fellows and Competition Winners

The Danbury Music Centre is committed to providing opportunities to its members and program participants. Read about some of these summer opportunities below.

2018 Summer String Fellows

For the first time in 2018, the Danbury Music Centre offered two string players fellowships to both the Summer Strings program and the Chamber Music Intensive. This new program recognizes both a passion for high quality chamber music performance, as well as teaching. Summer String Quartet Fellows will participate in both DMC Summer Strings as program mentors and DMC CMI as participants. Fellows also perform seminal works on the Summer Strings final concert on July 27th and on the Charles Ives Concert Series: Electric Youth on August 5th.

Molly Birdsall, violin



A rising junior at Brookfield High School, Molly Birdsall has a strong passion for music that began with piano at the age of 7 studying with Laura Vescio and more recently with Felicia Feng Schang, Maxim Vladimiroff, and Ben Laude. Molly has completed Levels 3-7 of the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Music Development program with Distinguished Honors in piano performance and theory.
After being awarded a grant from the Brookfield Education Foundation, she founded the first chamber string ensemble at her high school. She is both the ensemble director for this group where she plays cello, and an active member of the BHS pit orchestra.
Molly’s true passion, however, lies with violin. A student of  Hafez Taghavi, and more recently Glen Lebetkin, Molly is an active member of the DMC. She is currently a member of the Danbury Community Orchestra where she has been Principal Second and currently co-concert mistress. Often a guest player with the Danbury Symphony Orchestra for their annual Nutcracker and Summer Pops Concerts, Molly loves playing with orchestras and chamber groups in the community.
Molly participated in Fairfield County Strings Festival for 3 years, with her third year as Principal Second in the Honors Orchestra. She has also been selected for the Western Regionals Festival as a freshman and sophomore. She has received an award for outstanding performance in AP Music Theory and more recently selected as the 2018 recipient of the George Maloney Service Award  in music.

Ellery McFarland, cello

Ellery McFarland is from Newtown Connecticut. He attended the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School through eighth grade. Here, all students participated in a school orchestra, and are given a choice of string instruments in the beginning of third grade. Ellery chose the cello, and along with it began studying with Michael Unschuld, who at the time was also a student at the Waldorf School. Michael introduced Ellery to the various programs at the Danbury Music Center. Ellery participated in the summer strings program his first year playing cello, and quickly began playing in the Danbury Preparatory Strings Orchestra, then later, the Danbury Community Orchestra and the Chamber Music Intensive programs. Currently, he is studying with Dr. Chungsun Kim, a Juilliard graduate and an accomplished cellist. Ellery goes to school at Newtown High School where he participates in the orchestra, plays in an after school chamber music group and played in the pit orchestra of the 2018 Musical “Le Miserables”. Outside of school and music, Ellery is involved in the community and is an active volunteer firefighter at the Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Department.

2018 CMI Piano Competition

Eligible to all accepted CMI piano participants, the CMI Piano Competition took place on June 3rd when entrants auditioned to perform Debussy’s Claude Debussy’s two movements from Petite Suite for two pianos with Charles Ives Concert Series Artist-Faculty, Ben Laude. The winner of the competition is Emily Zagorec, who will perform the work on the August 5th Ives Series Concert: Duo Spotlight. RSVP to watch the duo in concert here!


Emily Zagorec, piano

  Emily Zagorec (15) is in 10th grade at the Ridgefield High School, Ct. She began piano at age four with Marie Smith in Salt Lake City, Utah. She currently studies with Diane Cooke in Danbury, Ct. Since second grade Emily has played piano at a Danbury nursing facility for its residents. She played piano and keyboards in her middle school jazz band, and this is her fourth year attending CMI. When she is not doing schoolwork or playing piano, Emily is involved with a poetry writing group and won her eighth grade slam poetry contest. She also enjoys running on her high school track team.


2018 CMI String Orchestra Concerto Competition

All accepted string, wind, and percussion CMI participants were invited to audition to perform a movement of a work for their instrument and string orchestra on the Charles Ives Concert Series. The two winners, Jason Boada and Lauren Tsai, will perform their works, selections from Tartini’s Devil’s Trill and Mozart’s Concerto for Violin D Minor K. 218, respectively, on the August 8th Ives Series Concert: Electric Youth. Read more here!


Lauren Tsai, violin

Lauren Tsai, from Ridgefield, CT, is a rising junior at Ridgefield High School. As a violinist, she participates in her high school’s symphony and chamber orchestras, a group called “Rockestra,” and a quartet she and her friends started. In addition, she has played in Connecticut’s 2017 and 2018 Western Region Festivals as well as its 2018 All State Festival. Lauren currently studies violin under the guidance of Suzanne Corey-Sahlin.

Additionally, Lauren is an active member of her school’s varsity ski team and volunteers at Yale New Haven Hospital.






Jason Boada, violin

Jason Boada, 26, is a violinist. Originally from Los Angeles, Jason has enjoyed becoming an active member of the classical music community in Danbury, playing principal second violin in the Danbury Community Orchestra and Summer Festival Orchestra. He has studied with Sarah Garbett-Lee (on the West Coast) and William Hurley (on the East Coast); he also lists countless hours of listening to classical music and opera among his teachers. Jason is an avid chamber and orchestral musician, and he has performed solo recitals featuring his love of Baroque music and his signature blend of historically-informed and modern performance practice.

Jason holds a minor in Music from Cornell University (along with a double major in Mathematics and German Studies) and a masters degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from University of California, Berkeley. Jason works for IBM as a data scientist and strategy consultant and also teaches aligned vinyasa yoga at Yoga Culture in Danbury.


2018 Charles Ives Concert Series Call for Scores Winner

The Charles Ives Concert Series is a program at the DMC directed by Paul Frucht which celebrates Danbury’s legend, Charles Ives, through performances of his music, today’s American music, and music that transcends the traditional boundaries of classical music. Each year, the Ives Series issues a world-wide call for scores of which one is selected for performance by Ives Series artists on one of the Ives Series concerts. The DMC received over 100 submissions to this year’s call, all of which were judged by Paul Frucht, Series associate artistic director, Jonathan Cziner and 2018 composer-in-residence, Nina C. Young. This adjudication process resulted in the selection of Max Vinetz’s still, unsettled for piano trio, which will be performed on the August 9th Ives Series concert celebrating the 90th birthday of legendary composer and educator, Samuel Adler. Read more here!

2018 Runners Up: Scott Feiner, Jae Seo, Angela Slater

2018 Honorable Mentions: Burton Beerman, Aaron Houston, Ben Yee-Paulson, Taylor Joshua Rankin, Nick Revel, Elliot Roman, Carl Schimmel, Harriet Steinke,  Ari Sussman, and Sam Wu.

Max Vinetz, composer 

Max Vinetz is a composer whose recent work has drawn inspiration from the intersection between traditional, popular, and improvisatory forms and aesthetics. He has received recognition and awards for performance and composition from ASCAP (2018 Morton Gould Winner, 2016 Finalist), BMI (2017, Finalist), Symphony No. 1, Donald Sinta Quartet, Tesla Quartet, KLK New Music, Yale University, the Reno Jazz Festival and the CMEA Jazz Festival. At Yale, Max won the Beekman Cannon Friends Prize, Beekman Abraham Beekman Cox Prize awarded to the “most promising and gifted composer” in the junior class, and was also awarded the Lewis P. Curtis Fellowship (2017 and 2018), the Tristan Perlroth Prize, and the R.J.R. Cohen Fellowship for Musical Performance. His music has additionally been featured at numerous festivals – New Music On the Point, Red Note New Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, California Summer Music, Nief-Norf, Valencia International Performance Academy, and highSCORE.

Max’s works and have been performed and recorded by Ensemble Dal Niente, Copland House Chamber Players, the Lemberg Sinfonietta, DeCoda, Mivos Quartet, B3: Brouwer Trio, unassisted fold, Phoenix Quartet, Albatross Duo, Yale Symphony Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, Brevard Sinfonia, Yale Undergraduate Chamber Orchestra, Icarus Duo, members of Yale Voxtet, Yale Schola Cantorum, and the h2 Saxophone Quartet among others. He is the founder of New Music Cooperative at Yale College, an organization that is dedicated to premiering undergraduate works and providing a collaborative environment between performers and composers, while also serving as artistic director for the Yale Undergraduate Chamber Orchestra. Max recently graduated with a BA in Music with distinction from Yale, where he studied composition and music technology with Kathryn Alexander and Konrad Kaczmarek. In August, Max will begin his MM degree at the Shepherd School of Music as a Brown Fellow.