Mission & History
Philadelphia Sinfonia Association 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, an executive director in 2011, and a program associate in 2022. Building upon the two orchestras operated 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, and Philadelphia Sinfonia Strings in the fall of 2022.
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 Association we challenge our students to extend their musical training beyond technical excellence and to develop artistic mastery of the repertoire they perform.
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.
Leadership: we provide 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, victims of the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, and hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.