Paul Dunkel, flute

Paul Lustig Dunkel was born in New York City in 1943 to a Viennese pianist and a Russian artist. He began studying the piano at eight and the flute two years later. His first flute teacher, Robert DiDomenica, introduced him to contemporary music and it has been a lifelong interest ever since. Dunkel performed on both flute and piano at Queens College (CUNY), where he studied with Leo Kraft, Hugo Weisgall and George Perle. At the same time he continued his flute training with William Kincaid, the dean of American flutists, and Samuel Baron. After graduating from college, Dunkel began his career as a flutist, playing with the New York City Opera and the New York City Ballet, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra (where Leopold Stokowski named him Principal Flute), and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. In 1966 he won a Silver Medal at the Birmingham International Woodwind Competition. Dunkel joined Speculum Musicae and the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, with whom he toured and recorded regularly. He was also a member of the Festival Winds and the New York Chamber Soloists and appeared at leading music festivals in Europe and North America. In addition to performing, he taught at the New England Conservatory, the Eastman School of Music, Queens College, Vassar College, the University of Connecticut and SUNY Purchase.

Dunkel began his conducting career as a fellow with the National Orchestral Association and continued his studies with Erich Leinsdorf and others. He has been Music Director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Vermont Mozart Festival and has appeared with symphonies around the country, as well as with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Musica Aeterna. He received the American Symphony’s Leopold Stokowski Conducting Award in 1981.

A co-founder of the American Composers Orchestra, Dunkel served as its Manager and Principal Flutist from 1978 until he became Resident Conductor in 1989. During his tenure, the orchestra’s New Music reading program discovered and encouraged many of today’s important composers. In this same period, he also helped establish the Westchester Philharmonic, an ensemble devoted to the performance of the classics as well as newly commissioned works. The orchestra has premiered the works of Derek Bermel, Tamar Muskal, David Malamud, Elias Tanenbaum and Francis Thorne, among others. A flute concerto by composer Melinda Wagner, commissioned by the orchestra, won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize; and a curriculum the Philharmonic developed for elementary schools received the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Leonard Bernstein Award in 2000. Dunkel stepped down as the Westchester Philharmonic’s conductor in 2008. He is currently Principal Flutist with the New York City Ballet and a member of Music From Copland House, an ensemble he co-founded with pianist Michael Boriskin, dedicated to the performance of American chamber music. Paul Dunkel has recorded for Nonesuch, Columbia, Opus 1, RCA, CRI and Bridge.