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Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York

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Biography

The Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York were a unique chamber orchestra, mixing light music with serious, performing not only in some of the leading concert venues in New York, but also on ocean liners, like the Queen Elizabeth II and Vistafjord. Of course, this world-famous ensemble will forever be inextricably linked to its founder and conductor, Richard Kapp. With him the Philharmonia Virtuosi made a series of greatest-hits recordings that were smashing successes, especially the first in the series, the best-selling Greatest Hits of 1720, a collection of Baroque favorites. While the ensemble's repertory has included much Baroque music by J.S. Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann, and many others including lesser knowns, they also regularly performed and recorded music from later periods by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Offenbach, Bizet, Wagner, Prokofiev, Copland, Bernstein, and many more. Because of its smaller size, the ensemble often augmented its number to perform larger scores, as with the Bernstein Candide Overture and the Ravel G major Piano Concerto. Over the years the Philharmonia Virtuosi appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the leading venues across Europe, Japan, and Asia. They made over 50 recordings, most still available on a wide variety of labels, including Ess.A.Y Recordings, Vox, Sony, RCA, Centaur, Rising Star, and Brilliant Classics. The Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York was founded in 1968 by Richard Kapp, though its first official concert was not given until 1974. The group quickly drew attention in the New York area, and in 1977 recorded one of the most popular classical albums of that decade, the aforementioned Greatest Hits of 1720, issued on the Columbia Masterworks label. While the Greatest Hits of 1721 (1980), Greatest Hits of 1790 (1980), and Greatest Hits of the 1900s (1986) followed with not quite the same success, the ensemble went on to make a very popular three-volume series of Vivaldi favorites in the 1990s and scores of other successful CDs. Meanwhile, the Philharmonia Virtuosi were making regular concert appearances at Town Hall, the Purchase College Performing Arts Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, where they served as resident orchestra from 1991. The group also launched several highly successful concert tours abroad. The Philharmonia Virtuosi performed regularly in concert until 2004, when Kapp was diagnosed with cancer. The ensemble resumed concert activity in February 2006, but the return would be short-lived, as Kapp died in June that year.

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