Now in its 33rd season, the Westchester Philharmonic is the oldest, continuously running professional symphony orchestra and largest performing arts organization of any kind in Westchester County. The Philharmonic’s main stage concert series makes its home at the 1,300 seat Concert Hall at the Purchase Performing Arts Center, with outdoor concerts, chamber concerts, children’s programs, and special events throughout the area. With an unequalled reputation as the finest orchestra in the Greater New York suburbs, the Westchester Philharmonic attracts savvy music-lovers from Rockland, Bergen, Fairfield, and Putnam counties, New York City, and beyond.
In November 2013 the Philharmonic proudly announced the concurrent appointments of Jaime Laredo and Ted Sperling as the orchestra’s Principal Conductors, commencing with the 2014-15 season.
Founded in 1983 as the New Orchestra of Westchester under the leadership of Music Director Paul Lustig Dunkel (who became Music Director Emeritus in 2008), the orchestra was later re-named the Westchester Philharmonic. Renowned artists who have performed with the Phil include Joshua Bell, Jeremy Denk, Leon Fleisher, Marvin Hamlisch, Jennifer Koh, Jaime Laredo, Raymond Leppard, Norm Lewis, Cho-Liang Lin, Branford Marsalis, Midori, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, Garrick Ohlssen, Itzhak Perlman, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Peter Serkin, Gil Shaham, Isaac Stern, André Watts, and Alisa Weilerstein.
New works commissioned and premiered by the Westchester Philharmonic have included Melinda Wagner’s Concerto for Flute, Strings and Percussion, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999; Thracian Echoes by Derek Bermel in 2003; The Yellow Wind by Tamar Muskal in 2005; and Terra Terribilis by Laura Kaminsky in 2007. A new commission by Christopher Theofanidis is scheduled for debut during the 2015 – 2016 season.
The orchestra’s award-winning education program reaches thousands of elementary school students each year with entertaining and stimulating curriculum programs that teach about the instruments of the orchestra, elements of melody and harmony, tempo and rhythm, theory and history, and the qualities that are intrinsic not only to music-making but life skills in general, such as personal expression, cooperation and teamwork, patience and concentration. Each year a culminating concert takes place with full orchestra at the Concert Hall. In April 2014, the main stage guest conductor Kwamé Ryan will remain with the Phil for a one-week residency, visiting schools and leading the children’s concert.
As a leading community resource, the Westchester Philharmonic partners with Westchester County government and local organizations to present free and low-cost chamber concerts for area residents, as well as provide subsidized seating at main stage concerts throughout the season, welcoming hundreds of area residents each year who might not otherwise have an opportunity to attend due to financial or physical limitations, or other barriers.
The orchestra is comprised of the finest professional free-lance musicians from around the greater metropolitan area. In addition to their work with the Phil, they perform regularly with other area orchestras including the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater, Orchestra St. Luke’s, Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Radio City Music Hall, and in the pit orchestras of Phantom of the Opera and many other Broadway shows. Members of the Phil also maintain active teaching studios and hold faculty positions at Juilliard, Mannes, Manhattan School of Music, Purchase Conservatory, Vassar and Bard Colleges, and at local public schools.
The orchestra is dedicated to inviting and attracting people of diverse backgrounds, both on the stage and in the concert hall, and continues to explore new partnerships with local schools, libraries, and community centers, so that all in the community have the opportunity to experience the joy of a live, classical music concert.