Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
490 Riverside Drive, 11th floor
New York, NY 10027-5788
(212) 896 1700
For immediate release
For fifty years, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has both challenged and celebrated what classical music can do on stage and in the community. Built on the tenets of its own uniquely egalitarian operations model, Orpheus has become a champion of democracy, with rotating musical leadership, internally-appointed and set-term artistic directors, and most iconically, no conductor, ever. Since then, Orpheus has shown audiences and industries worldwide the power of a community of trust, and the immense beauty which results from the individual minds and hearts of a true artistic collective.
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Executive Director Alexander Scheirle states, ”I am thrilled for our 51st season with programs that are exciting, diverse, interesting, and that guarantee to bring joy to all who will be willing and able to join us.”
The 2023/24 season marks the beginning of the next fifty, a new era of artistic exploration, collaboration, and pure musical enjoyment. The crux of Orpheus’s musical work lies in its uncanny versatility, which is reflected by the guest artists who have developed fruitful relationships over the years, as well as new and inspiring connections being made regularly. This is also a season of many welcome returns, with a Carnegie Hall performance and tour of Japan (Sendai, Tokyo, Matsuyama, Hiroshima, Osaka, Kagoshima) in February 2024 with the remarkable pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii, and the continuation of a decades-long musical partnership with legendary saxophonist Branford Marsalis; and, of joyous beginnings, with the Orpheus debuts of clarinetist Anthony McGill and violinist Bomsori Kim. Additionally, Orpheus continues to serve as a champion of new music, with a world premiere or world premiere arrangement programmed on every performance grouping. This season, audiences will hear for the first time Orpheus-commissioned new pieces by Antonio García and Nathalie Joachim, and world premiere arrangements by Michi Wiancko, Zachary Wadsworth, Javier Diaz, and Shuying Li.
Also in the spirit of new and happy beginnings, Orpheus is pleased to welcome the appointments of two new full-time musicians: Madeline Fayette joins the cello section (her sister, Orpheus violinist Abigail Fayette joined Orpheus three years ago), and the violins now include Emilie-Anne Gendron. Both musicians went through the rigorous years-long selection process culminating in a vote by the Orpheus musician membership.
While performing on major stages is a staple of every season, it is the other mainstays of Orpheus’ operations which distinguish it as an ensemble that truly exists for the wider community, and not merely for a select population of concert-goers. Initiatives like Orpheus Reflections, Club Orpheus, Orpheus Leadership Institute, and Access Orpheus are champions of deeply meaningful engagement. Whether connecting with New Yorkers with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and their caregivers through the power of music, or sharing radical new musical ideas over a pint in a local brewery, Orpheus’ raison d’être is to rejoice in both diversity and commonality with music as the vessel. Orpheus Reflections programs will take place at CaringKind’s facility (380 Lexington Ave), free of charge, with in-person and streaming options, from 2-3pm on October 19, March 21 (2024), May 16, and July 18.
RAVEL: Très Rythmé from String Quartet in F Major (Orchestrated by Michi Wiancko)
DEBUSSY: Rhapsody for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (Orchestrated by Zachary Wadsworth)
IBERT: Concertino da camera
Antonio GARCÍA: Homecoming: A New Orleans Journey (Commissioned by Orpheus)
LECUONA: Suite Andalucia (Orchestrated by Jannina Norpoth)
GERSHWIN: An American in Paris (World premiere for chamber orchestra by Javier Diaz)
Thursday, December 14, 2023
Anthony McGill, clarinet
PERKINSON: Sinfonietta No. 2 (Generations)
COPLAND: Clarinet Concerto
DVOŘÁK: American Sinfonietta in F Major (after String Quartet Op. 96) (Orchestrated by Orpheus)
Saturday, January 27, 2024
Have a Ball
Nobuyuki Tsujii, piano
Nathalie JOACHIM: New Work (Commissioned by Orpheus)
CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11 (Adapted by Shuying Li)
SCHUMANN: Carnaval, Op. 9 (Orchestrated by Zachary Wadsworth)
Additional US performances at Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (West Palm Beach, FL), Brooks Center for the Performing Arts (Clemson, SC), Florida State University College of Music Ruby Diamond Concert Hall (Tallahassee, FL). Tour of Japan in February, 2024.
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Bomsori Kim, violin
Adolphus HAILSTORK: Sonata da Chiesa
MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto in D minor
BACH: Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043
Bomsori Kim & Emilie-Anne Gendron, violins
BACH: Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067
Additional US performance at the Morris Museum (Morristown, NJ) on April 14, details to be announced
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is a radical experiment in musical democracy, proving for fifty years what happens when exceptional artists gather with total trust in each other and faith in the creative process. Orpheus began in 1972 when cellist Julian Fifer assembled a group of New York freelancers in their early twenties to play orchestral repertoire as if it were chamber music. In that age of co-ops and communes, the idealistic Orpheans snubbed the “corporate” path of symphony orchestras and learned how to play, plan and promote concerts as a true collective, with leadership roles rotating from the very first performance.
It’s one thing for the four players of a string quartet to lean in to the group sound and react spontaneously, but with 20 or 30 musicians together, the complexities and payoffs get magnified exponentially. Within its first decade, Orpheus made Carnegie Hall its home and became a global sensation through its tours Europe and Asia. Its catalogue of recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Nonesuch and other labels grew to include more that 70 albums that still stand as benchmarks of the chamber orchestra repertoire, including Haydn symphonies, Mozart concertos, and twentieth-century gems by Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Ravel and Bartók.
The sound of Orpheus is defined by its relationships, and guest artists have always been crucial partners in the process. Orpheus brings the best out of its collaborators, and those bonds deepen over time, as heard in the long arc of music-making with soloists such as Richard Goode and Branford Marsalis, and in the commitment to welcoming next-generation artists including Nobyuki Tsujii and Tine Thing Helseth. Breaking down the barriers of classical repertoire, partnerships with Brad Mehldau, Wayne Shorter, Ravi Shankar and many others from the sphere of jazz and beyond have redefined what a chamber orchestra can do. Relationships with composers and dozens of commissions have been another crucial way that Orpheus stretches itself, including a role for Jessie Montgomery as the orchestra’s first ever Artistic Partner. Having proven the power of direct communication and open-mindedness within the ensemble, the only relationship Orpheus has never had any use for is one with a conductor.
At home in New York and in the many concert halls it visits in the U.S. and beyond, Orpheus begins its next fifty years with a renewed commitment to enriching and reflecting the surrounding community. It will continue its groundbreaking work with those living with Alzheimer’s Disease through Orpheus Reflections, and the Orpheus Academy as well as the Orpheus Leadership Institute spread the positive lessons of trust and democracy to young musicians and those in positions of power. Each year, Access Orpheus reaches nearly 2000 public school students in all five boroughs of New York City, bringing music into their communities and welcoming them to Carnegie Hall. Always evolving as artists and leaders, the Orpheus musicians carry their legacy forward, counting on their shared artistry and mutual respect to make music and effect change.
+1 917 330 2046