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Yonkers Philharmonic Celebrates 50 Years

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra will host a free concert March 10 at SUNY Purchase.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra will host a free concert March 10 at SUNY Purchase. Photo Credit: Flickr user kruemi

YONKERS, N.Y. – The Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra is 50 years old and it plans to celebrate with one of its biggest performances yet.

On March 10 the orchestra will host a free concert inside the SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center Concert Hall. Joined by two area chorus groups, the orchestra will light up the stage with two of its most ambitious performances ever - Ludwig van Beethoven's “Symphony #9” and the “Academic Festival Overture” by Johannes Brahms.

“It’s something we thought would be a really unique experience,” said Marcia Klein, co-president of the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra sponsors, the Fine Arts Orchestral Society.

“We’ve never done anything on this scale before but we think we can pull it off.”

Beginning at 3 p.m., the 70-piece orchestra will join 140 chorus members from the Westchester Choral Society and Central Presbyterian Church of New York Chorus on stage. The performance will also feature four soloists, including New York City opera veterans Kenneth Overton and William Joyner .

Klein said Yonkers Philharmonic typically isn’t equipped to handle a piece like Beethoven's "Symphony #9" as it requires a large chorus and a number of soloists. But with the orchestra celebrating a milestone anniversary, it isn't holding back.

“We thought it would be a good piece to use to celebrate our 50th anniversary,” Klein said.

Created in 1962 by the late Pasquale Pistone, the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra is sponsored by the Fine Arts Orchestra Society. The society’s goal, Klein said, is to provide free symphonic concerts to Yonkers and area residents while also providing educational opportunities for aspiring young musicians.

Today, the group hosts a Concerto Competition for Westchester high school students, with the winner earning a scholarship and chance to perform as a soloist.

The orchestra also performs four Sunday concerts every year, each one free of charge.

“We find there are a number of people who couldn’t buy tickets to a concert in New York City or something and this might be their only chance to see a live symphonic concert,” Klein said.

While the concerts are usually held in the Saunders High School auditorium, March’s performance will feature an orchestra too big for the stage.  With the help of a grant from the Westchester Community Foundation and various other donors, Yonkers Philharmonic decided to move the concert to SUNY Purchase and its 1,300 seat concert hall.

Klein is anticipating a big turnout from residents throughout southern Westchester and the Bronx.

“We’ve been rehearsing and its going well,” she said. “This will be a very nice show.”

Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. No tickets are reservations are required. For more information visit the group's website.

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