About the Philharmonic
In the Concert Hall, the Classroom, and the Community
The Westchester Philharmonic, most recently led by world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, is the only fully professional symphony orchestra devoted to serving the people of Westchester County. In 1983, the orchestra was established as the New Orchestra of Westchester under the leadership of Paul Lustig Dunkel, and, a few years later, re-christened the Westchester Philharmonic. Created to enhance the quality of life in the community and provide educational opportunities for local schoolchildren, the orchestra has grown to become one of the most influential cultural institutions in the region-with a broad reach well beyond its immediate geography.
The Westchester Philharmonic's opening concert in 1983 featured White Plains native Garrick Ohlsson as guest artist. Already an established star on international concert stages, his participation set a high standard of artistry that continues into the organization's current season. Ohlsson paved the way for other stellar artists who have been guests of the Philharmonic in recent years, including Isaac Stern, Leon Fleisher, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Frederica von Stade, and Andre Watts.
Since the beginning, the Philharmonic has been committed to introducing audiences to the new: new artists, new composers, new compositions. Young artists who would quickly become renowned concert stars received early opportunities as guests of the Westchester Philharmonic. Among them have been Midori, Joshua Bell, and Gil Shaham. New works premiered at the philharmonic have included Thracian Echoes, an orchestral work by Derek Bermel that was awarded the Westchester Prize during the Philharmonic's 20th season and, most notably, Melinda Wagner's Pulitzer Prize-winning Concerto for Flute, Strings and Percussion and The Yellow Wind by Tamar Muskal in 2005. This commitment to the new continues in the 28th season with talents such as guest conductor Chelsea Tiption II and young pianist Orion Weiss.
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. Youngsters in classrooms across the region are treated to the orchestra's award-winning education program, which reaches thousands of elementary school students each year.
For twenty-seven seasons the Westchester Philharmonic has made the musical arts accessible to the community: providing the highest quality educational programming in the classroom; enhancing the quality of life in the region through innovative professional performances; and showcasing the finest new artistry in the concert hall.