In 1972, a group of young artists made history by creating an orchestra without a conductor in which musicians led themselves democratically. Since then, the Grammy award-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has recorded over 70 albums on all major classical labels, toured to 46 countries across four continents, and collaborated with hundreds of world-class soloists. 

Orpheus’ 34 member musicians work together as a collective and rotate leadership roles for all works performed, giving flight to unconventional interpretations. This democratic structure also extends to organizational functions including programming and governance: the orchestra elects three members to Artistic Director positions and three to the Board of Trustees. 

An essential part of New York City’s cultural landscape, Orpheus presents annual series at Carnegie Hall and 92Y. Orpheus tours to major international venues and has appeared regularly in Japan for 30 years; recent engagements include the Prague Spring and Dresden Music Festivals and a 12-concert tour of Asia. The orchestra’s extensive discography includes a February 2019 release on Deutsche Grammophon of Mendelssohn concertos with pianist Jan Lisiecki. Champions of chamber orchestra repertoire, Orpheus has commissioned and premiered over 50 new works. 

Orpheus shares its collaborative model through education and community engagement initiatives that promote equity and access to the arts for listeners of all ages around the world. These include programs for K-12 students, opportunities for emerging professional musicians, and a music and wellness program for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. 

Orpheus’ 2019-20 New York performance season features collaborations with Jan Lisiecki, Vadim Gluzman, Tine Thing Helseth, and the Sphinx Virtuosi. The season opens with a new commission by the orchestra’s first-ever Artistic Partner, composer and violinist Jessie Montgomery. Orpheus’ 2019-20 touring schedule includes appearances in Germany, Canada, and across the United States. In March, Orpheus will perform A Harlem Dream, an original collaboration with the Classical Theatre of Harlem at the SHIFT: Festival of American Orchestras, co-presented by the John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Washington Performing Arts.

 

Biography updated September 2019