Cynthia Phelps

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Cynthia Phelps

Masterclass - Viola


Violist Cynthia Phelps’s vibrant career has taken her to the world’s major stages as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. Principal Violist of the New York Philharmonic for over three decades, she has distinguished herself both here and abroad as one of the leading instrumentalists of our time.


Her electrifying solo appearances with the New York Philharmonic garner raves; they have included Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, the Bartok Viola Concerto, Strauss’s Don Quixote, the Benjamin Lees Concerto for String Quartet, the premiere of a concerto written for her by Sofia Gubaidulina and the premiere of a new concerto by Julia Adolphe written for her, at venues from Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, to Vienna’s Musikverein, London’s Royal Festival Hall, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She has also appeared as soloist with orchestras such as the Shanghai, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Eastern Music Festival and Vermont Symphonies, Orquesta

Sinfonica de Bilbao, and Rochester and Hong Kong Philharmonic among others.


The “performer of top-rank…who has captivated audiences with her compelling solo and chamber music performances” (Boston Globe) has become a familiar and much-admired figure at the world’s foremost concert venues, appearing in recital in Paris, Rome, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, St. David’s Hall in Cardiff, Wales, as well as in jails, hospitals, and drug rehab centers worldwide. A compelling performer of traditional works, she’s also an advocate of the music of our time, including premieres by Larry Lipkis, for piano quintet and solo viola, and two works by Stephen Paulus, one solo and one commissioned for her by the Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival for viola and the American String Quartet and for piano quintet.


She has collaborated with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, and Yefim Bronfman, among others. A much sought-after chamber musician, she is the violist of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet and is is a founding member of Les Amies, a flute-harp-viola trio formed with harpist Nancy Allen and flutist Carol Wincenc. She regularly performs with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and has collaborated with the American, Brentano, St. Lawrence and Prague String Quartets, and the Kalichstein- Robinson-Laredo Trio. She has appeared at the Mostly Mozart, Marlboro, Ravinia, La Jolla, Bravo! Colorado, Santa Fe, Moab, and Seattle Festivals, as well as in Europe at the Naples, Cremona, and Schleswig-Holstein Festivals. She has also been heard on National Public Radio’s St. Paul Sunday Morning, Radio France, and RAI in Italy, and has been featured on The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, Live from Lincoln Center, and CBS Sunday Morning.


She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Pro Musicis International Awrd and first prize at both the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition and the Washington International String Competition. A devoted educator, Ms. Phelps is on the faculty of The Juilliard School, Shanghai Academy, and the Music Academy of the West. Her album with Les Amies, on Telarc, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Her debut solo recording is on Cala Records, and she can also be heard on the Marlboro Recording Society, Polyvideo, Nuova Era, Virgin Classics, and Koch, and New York Philharmonic labels.