Conductor and Accompanist
Ron DeFesi, Conductor
The Warwick Valley Chorale is delighted to welcome Ron DeFesi as our new music director and conductor.
Ron, an Orange County native, has been well known to music lovers in the region and beyond as the Artistic Director of the Hudson Opera Theatre since its founding in 1977. In addition to being artistic director and principal conductor for several music organizations over the years, he has been a guest conductor for numerous orchestral, choral, ballet and opera performances. In all, he has directed and/or conducted over 350 productions.
A student of renowned Swedish conductor Sixten Ehrling while at the Juilliard School, Ron also attended the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, Germany where he completed specialized study in Baroque and Classical performance practice. Additionally, he has a bachelor’s degree in pre-med from Manhattan College, and a graduate degree from New York University in Music Performance.
He is also a basso cantante, and has sung over 100 roles in opera, oratorio and musical theater. He is an organist and choir director, plays the cello and piano, and teaches voice. A gifted and prolific arranger, his operatic and ballet reductions continue to be heard globally, as well as his arrangements for numerous instrumental ensembles of everything from classics to pop.
Gail Johnson, Accompanist
Gail Johnson Photo by Ed Bailey
Gail enjoyed a 33-year career teaching elementary vocal music in Rockville Centre, LI; Union Springs, NY; and Middletown, NY. Gail is a graduate of Ithaca College, earning degrees in Music Education and studying piano with George King Driscoll. She also attended the Manhattan School of Music, Preparatory Division, and studied privately with J. Dennis Starin. Currently, Gail is organist and choir director at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Middletown, NY. Gail accompanied the Warwick Valley Chorale, under the direction of the late Stanley Curtis, for more than 25 years. She teaches private piano and accompanies in many venues. Gail's position as Secretary of the Greater Middletown Interfaith Council has afforded her many opportunities to produce fundraisers highlighting the vast musical talents from local places of worship.