Now beginning its 37th 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, attracting savvy music-lovers from Rockland, Bergen, Fairfield, and Putnam counties, New York City, and beyond.
The orchestra was founded in 1983 under the leadership of late Music Director Paul Lustig Dunkel (who became Music Director Emeritus in 2008), and is now led by Executive & Artistic Director Joshua Worby. Renowned artists who have performed with the Phil include Joshua Bell, Julia Bullock, Barbara Cook, Jeremy Denk, Branford Marsalis, Midori, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelly O’Hara, Garrick Ohlsson, Itzhak Perlman, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Gil Shaham, Isaac Stern, and André Watts.
Among the many new works commissioned and premiered by the Westchester Philharmonic is Melinda Wagner’s Concerto for Flute, Strings and Percussion, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. Newly commissioned works by award-winning composers Christopher Theofanidis, David Ludwig, and Jed Feuer debuted in 2014, 2016, and 2018, respectively.
The Westchester Philharmonic has a rich history of supporting artists of diverse backgrounds and is setting a new standard for how mid-size regional symphony orchestras can have an impact on the face of classical music. Many of the composers whose works have been commissioned or premiered with the Philharmonic come from diverse backgrounds and/or are women. Over the past ten seasons the Phil has engaged 30 conductors or guest soloists of African-American, Hispanic, and Asian backgrounds. Women conductors and composers have appeared in eight of the last ten seasons.
The orchestra’s award-winning education program reaches thousands of elementary school students each year and culminates in a full orchestra concert. The Phil also partners with local organizations to present free and low-cost chamber concerts, as well as to provide subsidized seating at main stage concerts, welcoming hundreds of area residents each year who might not otherwise have an opportunity to attend.
The orchestra is comprised of the finest professional free-lance musicians from around the greater metropolitan area, who also perform regularly with the New York City Ballet, Orchestra St. Luke’s, Orpheus, Mostly Mozart, and for many Broadway shows. Members of the Phil hold faculty positions at Juilliard, Mannes, Manhattan School of Music, Purchase Conservatory, Vassar and Bard Colleges, and at local public schools.