Philadelphia Sinfonia supports the artistic growth of young musicians in the Delaware Valley by providing high-level ensemble experience in a supportive educational environment.
We believe that the pursuit of excellence requires performers with integrity, working together toward a common goal. Thus, our mission is three-fold: to provide ensemble performance opportunities for young musicians, to achieve the highest level of artistic advancement, and to educate young people broadly to be strong citizens and leaders as well as responsible musicians.
We recruit from a demographically diverse student population to provide an opportunity to anyone who musically qualifies and to enrich the experience of all members of the organization.
Philadelphia Sinfonia was founded and incorporated in 1997 as a new youth orchestra organization in Philadelphia. The current music director, Gary D. White, was appointed in 1999, the board changed dramatically in the next year, and stability and growth began to characterize the organization. Since then, the rehearsal and office location have remained the same – at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, board transitions have occurred slowly and in a planned way, a part-time orchestra manager was hired in 2004, an administrative assistant in 2007 and an executive director in 2011. Operating two orchestras since its inception, an advanced full symphonic orchestra and a string chamber orchestra, Philadelphia Sinfonia added an intermediate orchestra to its roster in the fall of 2012.
The original advanced orchestra and chamber orchestra perform seven or more local concerts each season. The intermediate orchestra, Philadelphia Sinfonia Players, performed two concerts in its inaugural season and three in its second year.
Throughout its history, Philadelphia Sinfonia has had a commitment to public service in addition to an excellent orchestral training program, and the organization has developed a consistent – and growing -- track record over the years of collaborations with other performance, educational and civic organizations.
At Philadelphia Sinfonia we challenge our students to extend their musical training beyond technical excellence and to develop artistic mastery of the repertoire they perform. We lead them into the minds and hearts of the composers whose work they play and provide theoretical understanding of these compositions. We inspire our students to be leaders in the classroom and in our organization, and we instill in them a profound sense of civic and global responsibility. They arrive at Philadelphia Sinfonia with talent and tenacity and they graduate as thoughtful human beings and as adept and passionate musicians, whether or not they choose to pursue a career in music.
Philadelphia Sinfonia is one of the premiere youth orchestras in the tri-state area. Since 1997, we have been teaching young musicians to discover their full artistic potential. Our students range in age from 11 to 22 and have exceptional musical ability. Many go on to study at prestigious universities and conservatories such as Harvard and Princeton Universities, The Curtis Institute of Music and The Julliard School.
We take a broad and contemporary approach to the study of orchestral music, with a curriculum that emphasizes teamwork and three different areas of growth and development – musicianship, scholarship and leadership.
Musicianship: our students hone their musical proficiency and develop advanced orchestral skills in a collaborative and engaging environment. They are encouraged to question, to innovate and to push themselves beyond the boundaries of comfort. They are active participants in the process of learning a piece of music and responsible partners in its performance.
Scholarship: knowledge and understanding are critical components of musical artistry. Sinfonia rehearsals include a thorough excavation of a composition and its composer’s background, providing theoretical and historical context for each piece. The deepest understanding of a piece of music is derived directly from its composer; with strong relationships to a number of living composers, we hold rehearsals and master-classes with them whenever possible, to powerful effect.
We develop leadership through opportunities for artistic mentorship within our organization and opportunities for civic engagement in the local and global community. Our musicians run a highly successful annual food drive supporting Philabundance, have participated in musical workshops for area school children, participate enthusiastically in side-by-side rehearsals with children in underserved areas, and take pride in our benefit concerts, which have helped Kosovo refugees and the victims of the earthquake in Kobe, Japan.
Philadelphia Sinfonia’s comprehensive program includes:
- Philadelphia Sinfonia (advanced full symphonic orchestra with 100 members for students from age 13 through college)
- Chamber Orchestra (a 26-member string chamber group)
- Philadelphia Sinfonia Players (an intermediate full symphonic orchestra for students ages 11 to 18)
Each season we perform four advanced full orchestra concerts, three chamber orchestra concerts, three intermediate orchestra concerts, and an intimate afternoon recital of solo works and chamber music. Most advanced orchestra seasons include either a highly visible summer concert or an international tour. Our musical repertoire is diverse and daring, comprised of works from the standard classical canon alongside 20th and 21st century pieces, and has included several world and Philadelphia premieres.
We have performed at the Kimmel Center, the Mann Music Center, the Liberty Medal Ceremony honoring Colin Powell and at the 2000 Republican National Convention. We have partnered with guest artists as renowned as soprano Julianne Baird and jazz virtuoso violinist Christian Howes. Internationally, Philadelphia Sinfonia has wowed audiences in Holland, Great Britain, Russia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Belgium and Argentina.
Young musicians are at the heart of Philadelphia Sinfonia. They are a diverse group with incredible gifts, capable of discovering the theoretical and emotional content of a composition and communicating something truly moving to an audience.