Cynthia Phelps is the New York Philharmonic’s Principal Viola. 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; Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in 2010 and 2014; and Sofia Gubaidulina’s Two Paths, 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.
Phelps is a member of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet 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 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.
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. Phelps has served on the faculties at The Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music.