Warren Philharmonic Selects Valley Native as Conductor, Music Director

WARREN, Ohio – Christopher M. Cicconi has been named the conductor and music director of the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra.

Cicconi, an Austintown native and graduate of Fitch High School and Youngstown State University, brings an extensive background in music education, orchestral conducting, and community engagement to the role.

He replaces Susan Davenny Wyner, who held the top position with the WPO for 24 years before retiring after the 2023-24 season.

In addition to taking the reins of the WPO, the 46-year-old Cicconi will also begin his tenure as director of bands and professor of music at James Madison University in the fall. He will also continue his role as principal conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra.

“As a native of northeastern Ohio, I am thrilled and honored to return home to the Valley to work with such a fantastic organization and world class musicians,” Cicconi said in a statement. “As a passionate music educator and orchestral conductor, I am excited to immerse myself in the rich history of music education in the area and work to bring the Warren Philharmonic’s performances to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.”

The WPO gives two public performances each season, one in the fall and one in the spring, at First Presbyterian Church, 256 Mahoning Ave.

William Mullane, president of the orchestra’s board of directors, called the appointment of Cicconi “an important step forward as the orchestra continues its work to bring classical music to our constituents in a way that is exciting, educational and fun for audiences of all ages.”

Mullane described Cicconi as “the perfect candidate” to reach area schools and their music programs and to explore new outreach initiatives.

Formerly, Cicconi served as director of bands and orchestras and associate professor of music education at Towson University in Maryland. At Towson, he conducted the Towson University Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Orchestra.

He also served as a conductor of the U.S. Naval Academy Drum and Bugle Corps. 

Cicconi earned a doctorate of musical arts in instrumental conducting from the University of Miami, where he was awarded a Henry Mancini Fellowship. He earned a master’s degree in music education degree from Arizona State University.

He received a bachelor’s degree in music education from YSU, graduating summa cum laude.

In a 2019 article published on Towson University website, Cicconi said his career was inspired by Stephen Gage, the late YSU music professor and band director.

The article cited his open-door policy with music students, which Cicconi said he experienced with Gage when he was a YSU student.

“After working with [Gage] for four years, I wanted to be a college band director [too],” Cicconi said. “I want to give my kids here what I got in undergrad. The way that I come across to people is a direct reflection of how he came across to me.”

Cicconi is recognized in the industry as an advocate for music education and community outreach. While in Maryland, he was an honored recipient of the Corwin Taylor Music Education Leadership and Outstanding Music Educator Awards. He is in high demand throughout the Mid-Atlantic region as a guest conductor, clinician and speaker.

Cicconi has appeared as an orchestra and band clinician in over 100 public and private institutions. He also frequently serves as a guest conductor for the Sewanee Music Festival and the New England Music Camp.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.