A native of Hamden, CT, violinist Elizabeth “Libby” Phelps leads a varied career as an orchestral and chamber musician in the Triangle Area. Currently based in Raleigh, North Carolina, she has served as Principal Second Violin of the North Carolina Symphony since 2013 and regularly performs as a soloist with the group. In the summer of 2014, she was invited to join the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Before moving to Raleigh, Elizabeth completed a four year fellowship with the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida where she often performed as concertmaster, most memorably under Michael Tilson-Thomas during a performance of Steven Mackey’s Eating Greens when she had to play a scordatura solo representing the backing up of a UPS truck. Other memorable opportunities include performing Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with Paula Robison as well as Brahms’ Viola Quintet in G Major with Christian Tetzlaff.
Long an advocate of contemporary music, Elizabeth was a founding member of FiveOne, a collaborative ensemble of composers and instrumentalists based in Cleveland, OH. In 2010, she was a participant at the Lucerne Festival Academy in Luzern, Switzerland where she performed at the KKL concert hall under the baton of Pierre Boulez. Since joining the NC Symphony, Elizabeth has performed chamber works of Caroline Shaw and Sarah Kirkland Snider, as well as joining Gabriel Kahane for a special concert at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC.
In June of 2015, Elizabeth finally gave in to her love of baroque and attended the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute in Toronto, Ontario where she performed in various chamber and orchestral ensembles, as well as masterclasses for members of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. After this transformative experience, she went on to participate in the Tafelmusik Winter Institute, the San Francisco Early Music Society Baroque Workshop, and the American Bach Soloists Academy in San Francisco, California. On baroque violin, she has performed with New Trinity Baroque of Atlanta, GA and plays regularly with the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra. In November of 2016, she was honored to performed the Bach Double Concerto with her stand partner Jacqueline Wolborsky and the North Carolina Symphony under the direction of Apollo Fire's Jeannette Sorrell.
A fan of all kinds of music, Elizabeth has tried, with varying degrees of success, to learn other instruments and styles. She learned bass in her middle school's jazz band, a skill which came in handy when she joined the Miami based cover band Somewhat Hungover during her time at the New World Symphony. She also enjoys playing the viola and doing shape-note singing with the North Carolina Sacred Harp society.
Elizabeth holds both a Bachelors and Masters degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied with Paul Kantor and Stephen Rose. She has played in masterclasses for such varied artists as Pamela Frank, Jorja Fleezanis, Jordi Savall, and Cynthia Roberts. On baroque violin, she has worked with Elizabeth Blumenstock, Jean Lamon, Robert Mealy, Julia Wedman, and David Wilson.
Following a playing injury in 2012, Elizabeth became passionate about body awareness and currently practices Pilates and Gyrotonics on a regular basis. She loves dogs, art, history, and coffee.