Hailed as "The Jewel of New Castle", The Chappaqua Orchestra has served Northern Westchester since 1958. TCO plays diverse and challenging programs and has grown into a sophisticated ensemble of professional level artists.
Many notable artists have been associated with TCO over the years, including Joseph Fuchs, Julius Baker, Chee Yun, Allison Eldredge, Ruth Laredo, Eugenia Zukerman, Leslie Parnas, Andrew Litton, Lucie Arnaz, Vanessa Williams, Jerome Rose, Edward Arron, and Timothy Fain.
TCO began as the Chappaqua Chamber Orchestra and was founded by a small group of musicians and music lovers, among them Dr. Boris Koutzen, the distinguished violinist, teacher, and composer, who quickly agreed to take up the baton. The February 7, 1959 premiere performance firmly established the orchestra's reputation for musical excellence. On stage were a baker, a lawyer, a doctor, a stockbroker, a minister, an artist, a postman, homemakers, music teachers and professional musicians - all of them exceptional performers. TCO also has a proud history of collaboration with young soloists who later went on to stardom, many of them proteges of longtime Music Director Norman Leyden, who also conducted the Westchester County Youth Orchestra.
From 1967 when Norman Leyden, principal oboist, composer, and teacher, became the next in a series of distinguished conductors, the orchestra continued in its commitments to quality music and to the communities of New Castle and Northern Westchester. The establishment, also in 1967, of the Boris Koutzen Memorial Fund provided income to commission original works to be premiered by TCO. The first Koutzen Fund commissioned work, Thanatopsis, by Paul Creston, was performed in 1971. In 2002, a generous gift from two anonymous donors made it possible for the Fund to once again commission an original work. Michael Shapiro's original score to the 1931 movie Frankenstein received its world premiere in October 2002 at the Jacob Burns Film Center.
In 1970, Wolfgang Schanzer, pianist and opera conductor, became conductor. He remained on the podium of TCO for 12 exciting years. Then in 1984, Andrew Litton, who at the time was an internationally renowned pianist, was engaged as conductor. Mr. Litton, of course, has gone on to preside over several of the best known orchestras of the world, including the Dallas Symphony. From 1987 through 1989, the orchestra continued under the direction of Jesse Levine. During this period the orchestra increased in size and was briefly called the Chappaqua Symphony. The orchestra also evolved from a volunteer community orchestra to a semi-professional organization. Unfortunately this transition proved costly to the orchestra, and TCO struggled financially. In 1992, James Sadewhite became conductor. During his tenure, a benefit concert featuring Vanessa Williams, whose star power filled the Horace Greeley High School Auditorium to capacity, revitalized the orchestra's finances..
In recent years the orchestra has performed at the Reader's Digest World Headquarters, Chappaqua Library, the First Congregational Church of Chappaqua, Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco, Tarrytown Music Hall, The Paramount Center for the Arts, Temple Beth-El of Northern Westchester, Horace Greeley High School, the new Seven Bridges Middle School Auditorium in Chappaqua, and the brand new revitalized Chappaqua Performing Arts Center on the former campus of Reader's Digest.
In 2001, Michael Shapiro was appointed Music Director and Conductor of TCO. Mr. Shapiro's background as an internationally recognized conductor, composer, pianist, and author brought TCO national attention in a joint concert with the Westchester Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center featuring multimedia director, musicologist, and human rights advocate Gottfried Wagner, great grandson of Richard Wagner. In 2018, Michael Shapiro, with increasing demands of composing and conducting opportunities, made the difficult decision to leave the orchestra. A conductor search has begun, that we hope will bring us to a wonderful future.
The Chappaqua Orchestra is a professional level orchestra that presents challenging repertoire in the context of thematic programming, while building an ensemble of top musicians and showcasing rising stars.
The Chappaqua Orchestra is proud to have the support of a devoted and enthusiastic Board of Trustees. The Board welcomes new members and volunteers who are dedicated to producing high quality music in the Northern Westchester area, promoting local musicianship and creating music lovers for the next generation.
Uli Speth, Concertmaster
Emily Weiss, Principal
Tina Clara Lee
Sara Worden O'Brien
David Marsh, Principal
Vera Joffe Shapiro
Scott Thornton, Principal
Dianne Spitalny, Principal
Gerard Reuter, Principal
Scott Gerhardt, Principal
Diane Fedora, Principal
Joe Sabia, Principal
Tim McCarthy, Principal
Bob Bennett, Principal
Glenn Rhian, Principal
Board of Directors:
Al Krull, President
Rebecca Quigley, Secretary
David Phelan, Technical Coordinator
Kathleen Feldman, Education Director
Amy Harter, Co-Executive Director
David Restivo, Co-Executive Director
Cynthia Peterson, Artistic Director, Chamber Series
Robert Sherman, Artistic Advisor
Amy Goldman Harter grew up in the New York area and received
her BA from Vassar College and her MA from the George Washington University, both in Art History. She has over eighteen years of experience in non-profit fundraising, primarily for arts organizations such as the Walters Art Museum and the Peabody Music Conservatory in Baltimore. After moving to Westchester, she additionally worked on the Capital Campaign for the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. She has sustained a life-long passion for the arts, having most recently co-curated an exhibition of photography at the Radius Gallery at Arc Stages in February, 2020, and has been a docent at the Katonah Museum of Art for over five years. Amy studied both piano and flute in her youth, sang in the Vassar College Choir, and has since maintained her love of classical music. She has lived in Pleasantville since June, 2001, where she raised her two daughters, Charlotte and Emily, and where she continues to be an active member of her community. Through her new position as Co-Executive Director, Amy looks forward to further enriching the cultural landscape of Pleasantville and beyond.
David grew up in Houston, Texas and started playing violin in school at the age of 11. While in high school David was a member of the National High School Honors Orchestra where they played at Kennedy Center in Washington DC and Helsinki, Finland. David received a scholarship to Texas State University for Music Performance studying with Dr. Stephen Redfield. While in college, the orchestra toured Europe performing in Warsaw, Vienna and Prague. After 2 years David changed his major to Sound Recording Technology. He continued with violin lessons throughout college and received his bachelor’s degree in 1997 in Music/Sound Recording Technology. After college David moved to Boston working in the music business. There he met his wife, and after a short time in Dallas, where their daughter was born, they moved to Long Island where he began his career of programming Crestron with Audio Video Systems. At that time David started playing with the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble in Manhattan where he was a board member for 3 years. After several moves all over NY and Westchester, they settled in Chappaqua. David and his family have lived in Westchester County since 2006. In 2007 he began violin lessons with Elliot Magaziner at the Music Conservatory of Westchester. He also plays with several local groups throughout Westchester that include the Chappaqua Orchestra, the St. Thomas Orchestra, the Collegium of Westchester and the Croton Chorale. David often plays chamber music with the numerous local musicians in the Westchester County area. David finds it a privilege to be a board member of the Chappaqua Orchestra. He looks forward to exploring new ways to bring classical music of all shapes and sizes to the residents of Westchester County.
Pianist Cynthia Peterson draws from a broad solo, chamber, and contemporary repertoire. She has performed at the American Academy in Rome, throughout Canada, and in Washington DC, Philadelphia, Virginia and Minnesota. She has appeared at many venues in the New York area including the Metropolitan Museum, Yale University, Brooklyn Museum, Garden State Center for the Arts, Alice Tully Hall, The National Arts Club, and the Museum of the City of New York. As prize-winner of concerto competitions she performed with the Philharmonic Symphony of Westchester, the Virginia Beach Pops Orchestra, including radio broadcasts in Virginia and Washington, D.C., the Yonkers Civic Orchestra, and the Westchester Youth Symphony. Recently, Cynthia appeared with the Chappaqua Orchestra performing a Mozart and the Schumann piano concertos. She has collaborated with players from the Berlin Philharmonic, Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, the Chicago Symphony, and Orpheus. Cynthia has worked closely with, and performed music by John Corigliano, Vincent Persichetti, David Amram, among other contemporary composers. Cynthia earned her doctorate at the University of Connecticut, where she was invited to be a guest lecturer on the Colloquium Series, presenting a lecture/recital on Debussy. She has received fellowships to Tanglewood, the Banff Centre, Festival at Sandpoint, and the Ravinia Festival. She also holds a Masters degree from Juilliard, where she was awarded the prestigious Irwin Freundlich Memorial Scholarship. As an under-graduate, she attended Binghamton University receiving both the Music Department Faculty Award and the SUNY Foundation Award. Her primary teachers include Beveridge Webster, Walter Ponce, and German Diez; she has been coached by Leon Fleischer, Gunther Schuller, Menahem Pressler, and other luminaries. A dedicated educator, Cynthia has served on the faculties of Lehman College/CUNY where she headed the piano faculty, SUNY/New Paltz, the Barry Tuckwell Institute at Gettysburg College, where she performed with renowned horn player and conductor Barry Tuckwell, Mercy College’s degree program at Ossining Correctional Facility, and Dutchess Community College where she performs frequently. Cynthia is Artistic Director of the Chappaqua Orchestra Chamber Music Series, and has spearheaded the GraceNotes Outreach program, bringing chamber music groups to perform for inmates at prisons in New York. Cynthia was a recent guest performer at Skinner Recital Hall, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie.
“Fine pianist” -- NY Times
“Ivories were ticked to perfection by Cynthia Peterson” – Inside Chappaqua/Bedford
“electrically charged performance… natural exuberance… Mendelssohn’s varied passages were handled superbly by the pianist” – The Journal News
“played magnificently… gorgeous… extraordinary” – John Corigliano
“Wonderful performances… marvelous playing” – Gunther Schuller
“Her performance… can top those of any pianist”– Vincent Persichetti