Cynthia Phelps is the New York Philharmonic’s Principal Viola, The Mr. and Mrs. Frederick P. Rose Chair. Highlights of her solo appearances with the Orchestra have included the New York Premiere–Philharmonic Co-Commission of Julia Adolphe’s Unearth, Release, in 2016; performances on the 2006 Tour of Italy, sponsored by Generali; Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in 2010 and 2014; and Sofia Gubaidulina’s Two Paths, which the Orchestra commissioned for her and Philharmonic Associate Principal Viola Rebecca Young and which they premiered in 1999 and reprised both on tour and in New York, most recently in 2011. Other solo engagements have included the Minnesota Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica de Bilbao, and Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Ms. Phelps is a member of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, established in the 2016–17 season, and performs with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Jupiter Chamber Players, and the Santa Fe, La Jolla, Seattle, Chamber Music Northwest, and Bridgehampton festivals. She has appeared with the Guarneri, Tokyo, Orion, American, Brentano, and Prague Quartets, and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. She has given recitals in the major music capitals of Europe and the U.S. She is also a founding member of the chamber group Les Amies, a flute-harp-viola group with Philharmonic Principal Harp Nancy Allen and flutist Carol Wincenc.
Ms. Phelps is a first-prize winner of both the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition and the Washington International String Competition, and is a recipient of the Pro Musicis International award. Under the auspices of this philanthropic organization, she has appeared as soloist in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Rome, and Paris, as well as in prisons, hospitals, and drug rehabilitation centers worldwide. Her recording Air, for flute, viola, and harp on Arabesque, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Her television and radio credits include Live From Lincoln Center on PBS; St. Paul Sunday Morning on NPR; Radio France; Italy’s RAI; and WGBH in Boston. Ms. Phelps has served on the faculties at The Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music. She is married to cellist Ronald Thomas.