New York Philomusica

selected reviews

"One of the city’s life-sustaining, if half-hidden, cultural arteries is its chamber music: bands of young professionals who play for pleasure and edification, though rarely for profit. Some events are earnestly competent, some misguided or self-indulgent, but there are also moments like the Philomusica’s evening program on Thursday, when programs are elegantly conceived and played with radiant devotion."
The New York Times

"[New York Philomusica] has over the past ten years given many distinguished and trail-blazing performances, often of works generally ignored by similar groups."
Daily News

"…the performance of Mr. Carter’s Sonata was the most polished…allowing the animation within the music, and the lucidity of its textures, to be savored at every point."
The New York Times


New York City Subscription Concerts

New York Philomusica has produced an annual New York City concert series since 1971. The ensemble’s series is based at Broadway Presbyterian Church, on Broadway at 114th Street, in Manhattan. Performances are presented with the ideal of fostering the tradition of an intimate concert experience. Each concert is preceded by an interview/lecture Meet-the-Artists and followed by a reception. Program notes are provided for all concerts, both written and spoken, with those written sent out to subscribers in advance of the concert to enhance their concert-going experience.

The music that New York Philomusica performs is wide-ranging. For example, during the 2001-2002 season three New York premiere pieces, by Joël-François Durand, Marvin Lamb and Salvatore Sciarrino, and a world premiere by John Harbison are punctuation marks among a line of contemporary works by Hindemith, Messiaen, Steve Reich, George Rochberg, Schoenberg, and Webern. However, the magic of the season’s programming, illustrating New York Philomusica’s artistic philosophy, lies in how these contemporary works are framed. Traditional works provide a context for comparison to contemporary works. For instance, the ensemble’s January 17, 2002, program presented varied treatments of the divertimento form by Haydn, Lamb, Rochberg, Sciarrino, and Hindemith, taking into consideration historical and tonal relations common to each. This programming mix is New York Philomusica’s hallmark, for which it has received critical acclaim throughout its history.  
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Rockland County Subscription Concerts

New York Philomusica established a presence in Rockland County, New York at its founding
Summer Winds. The ensemble’s annual concert series in Rockland County was founded in 1979 and continues today at the Rockland Center for the Arts in West Nyack. The same programs that are presented in New York CityNew York City Subscription Concerts are produced in Rockland County. The ensemble’s pianists enjoy performing on New York Philomusica’s Mason & Hamlin model BB concert grand piano, which was purchased with a generous gift from an anonymous donor. The concert format is similar to the New York City presentations. Mr. Johnson speaks to the audience on stage at the start of each concert. A reception at intermission affords the audience an opportunity to socialize.  top of page


New York Philomusica, which has performed on three continents, tours annually in the United States, often performing concerts at colleges and universities, as well as local concert halls and churches. The ensemble makes itself available for in-school concerts, lecture/demonstrations and master classes. The ensemble is developing plans for more international touring.  
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Summer Winds

New York Philomusica presents a concert every summer, which is free to the public, in the historic town of Tappan, NY (Rockland County) in Tappan Memorial Park. These informal concerts, which feature wind and brass instruments in programs of classical and jazz music, are a vehicle for introducing the ensemble’s music making. The idea of performing these concerts started in 1971, when New York Philomusica co-produced a Festival of Music and History with the Tappan Historical Society, to bring the attention of local residents to the need to raise money to develop the then vacant lot in the bend of Sparkill Creek near the Tappan Library. New York Philomusica performed concerts at the historic local sites: the Dutch Reformed Church, the Manse, The De Wint House (George Washington HQ), the John Andre monument, as well as the Masonic Home for the Elderly, the Tappan Grade School and the Tappanzee High School. The citizens subsequently developed the park site, discovering historical artifacts in the process, and named it Tappan Memorial Park.

NY Philomusica Summer Winds was featured in the new 2009 movie Grey Gardens! Watch the video and learn more here.  
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New York Philomusica Records

New York Philomusica launched its own recordings label in 1991. This has ensured that the same artistic program premises, described in New York City Subscription Concerts, inform the label’s catalogue. The label initially released six CDs, and in October 2002 reissued New York Philomusica’s historic first recording of the complete Breitkopf & Härtel published editions of Mozart’s Divertimentos and Wind Serenades, originally released by Vox Productions, with a newly updated booklet painstakingly created by Robert Levin, renowned Mozart scholar and pianist.

At the same time, New York Philomusica Records re-released the original six CDs with fresh cover art. All recordings are currently available through New York Philomusica,, and through the distributor, Big Daddy Music Distribution.  
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Featured Composer

Since its founding, New York Philomusica has played a major role in encouraging the development of new music by featuring the music of a living composer. This provides the organization the opportunity to develop a special relationship over many seasons with a composer, whose music is then given greater exposure. Commissions are offered. Dr. Iain Hamilton was the first featured composer; Jacob Druckman, the second; and John Harbison, the third, and in 2005 Michael Berkeley was inducted as the fourth and current Featured Composer.

Michael Berkeley�s music has already been a part of three New York Philomusica seasons, and the composer has established himself on the global music scene with an extensive catalogue of chamber, orchestral, and vocal works, including several operas. His Concerto for Orchestra, commissioned by the BBC's National Orchestra of Wales received its premiere at The Proms in Royal Albert Hall on July 19, 2005, to universal public and critical acclaim.

Berkeley is also Composer-in-Association with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and he acts as Visiting Professor in Composition at the Welsh College of Music and Drama. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Berkeley both feel that the role of Featured Composer will support a very productive association for them on both sides of the Atlantic.

Read more about Berkeley here. 
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As an introduction to each concert in Merkin Concert Hall, the Artistic Director of New York Philomusica, A. Robert Johnson, leads a "Meet-the-Artist" interview segment, which offers audience members the opportunity to learn more about all aspects of the music world. For example, when the ensemble premiered Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4, for piano and string quintet, Mr. Johnson interviewed Philip Lobkowicz, whose great-great uncle, Prince Joseph Franz Lobkowicz, commissioned the concerto. Mr. Lobkowicz spoke on the subject of his family’s role in commissioning works from Beethoven and specifically the Concerto No. 4.  
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New York Philomusica occasionally commissions works from composers who are not involved with the ensemble as a Featured Composer. Composers who have received commissions include Meyer Kupferman and jazz legend Sir Roland Hanna.  
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Unique Collaborations

New York Philomusica engages in collaborations with writers, musicians from other genres, such as jazz, and in the future is planning to work with dancers. The ensemble collaborated with the Paris Review to perform in an event that featured commentary and readings from writers on the subject of famous Russian authors, which were woven into a performance by the ensemble of music by Shostakovich. New York Philomusica worked with writer Kurt Vonnegut to produce a new setting of Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale.

The ensemble had an ongoing relationship with composer and jazz pianist Sir Roland Hanna, until his death in November 2002. Together, they continued to explore the similarities of jazz and chamber music, performing concerts of both traditional music and jazz, including compositions by Sir Roland.

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