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Paul Lustig Dunkel, 1943 - 2018

Paul Dunkel passed away on January 14, 2018.

The following appeared on our website, where it remained for a full year.

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In 1983, Paul Dunkel founded what was then known as the New Orchestra of Westchester, later to become the Westchester Philharmonic. Maestro Dunkel assembled the original group of musicians, many of whom continue to play with us today, and led the orchestra as Music Director and Conductor for twenty-five years. Upon stepping down from the podium in 2008, he became Music Director Emeritus.


Under Paul’s leadership, the orchestra became Westchester’s pre-eminent performing arts organization, a welcoming home for new composers and new works, an incubator for emerging new talent, and created an award-winning music education program for children. Because of Paul’s efforts the Westchester Philharmonic earned an ASCAP award for adventuresome programing, the Leonard Bernstein Award for educational programs, and among the many new works commissioned and performed by Paul and the orchestra, the Concerto for Flute, Strings, and Percussion by Westchester composer Melinda Wagner won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize.


These are but a few highlights of Paul’s work with the Phil, which cannot begin to enumerate the joy and revelation of superb music making he brought to our community; the tens of thousands of children who experienced this joy for the very first time at a Westchester Phil children’s concert; or the welcomed work opportunity afforded to our area’s finest freelance musicians.


Beyond his work with the Phil, Paul was the longtime principal flute for the New York City Ballet Orchestra, a co-founder of the American Composers Orchestra, a member of Music from Copland House, and a frequent chamber music performer, conductor, and teacher.


Those of us who have had the privilege of being part of this organization have stood on Paul’s shoulders in the furtherance of his extraordinary founding achievement. His legacy lives within every note we play. May he rest in peace.


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