Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
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New York, NY 10027-5788

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Press Kit

Orpheus Announces It's 50th Anniversary Season at Carnegie Hall

THURSDAY MAR 3 2022 8:00AM

Carnegie Hall by Fadi Kheir

For immediate release
Guest artists include the trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth, violinist Renaud Capuçon, and singers Karen Slack and Will Liverman

New York’s iconic conductor-less Orpheus Chamber Orchestra have announced their 2022/23 Carnegie Hall season, which is the core of their annual programming. The three-concert series features four truly international artists, two world premieres of Orpheus-commissioned pieces, popular classical favorites as well as seldom-performed works of the canon.

This season also marks a significant milestone in Orpheus history, as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. For Orpheus, whose credo was and continues to be based on a uniquely-egalitarian operations model, this achievement is one that is especially meaningful to the musicians, staff, and board, as its original mission in the 1970s to become a truly democratic space for music-making has only strengthened over the decades.

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Executive Director Alexander Scheirle states, “I’m still in awe of the creativity, trust, and fortitude it took to create an orchestra without a conductor in the twentieth century. Despite all the challenges, the musicians never gave up on Orpheus' core principles of democracy and collaboration, and became one of the most successful chamber orchestras of all times.”

The season opens on October 8, 2022 with “The New Fifty, with the Norwegian trumpet player, Tine Thing Helseth, who has been praised by Gramophone as “...blessed with a combination of great wind-playing attributes: a soulful – dare one say brooding, Nordic – approach to phrasing, quite astonishingly outstanding intonation and a sound which is open and honest, even and focused in all registers.” Opening the program with the world premiere/Orpheus commission of Fanfare by composer and horn virtuoso Jeff Scott, Helseth also plays the splendid Hummel Trumpet Concerto in E Major, S. 49; the elegantly-curated program continues with works by Haydn and Mozart.

The second concert of the season, “Change the Frame,” on January 21, 2023, features the internationally-acclaimed violinist Renaud Capuçon. The performance opens with with the world premiere/Orpheus commission of a new work, inspired by works by women of color in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) collection, by multi-disciplinary, genre-bending composer Hanna Benn. The program continues with a Pushkarev arrangement of Prokofiev, and a new arrangement by Jannina Norpoth of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Orpheus’s final Carnegie program on May 20, 2023, “Voices Lifted,” pays homage to fearless voices. Beethoven, who unwaveringly disapproved of political tyranny, instilled his passion for social justice into music for Goethe’s historical drama about a local hero defying foreign occupiers. Featuring an incisive new translation and the clarion voice of Karen Slack, Orpheus illuminates the eternal truths of Egmont. Will Liverman, the “muscular-voiced baritone” (The New York Times) who astonished the world with his starring role in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones at the Metropolitan Opera, joins Orpheus to reimagine spirituals in a tribute to the heroic singer-activist Paul Robeson, whose 125th anniversary will be celebrated in 2023.

Carnegie Hall - Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage

Saturday, October 8, 2022
The New Fifty
Tine Thing Helseth, trumpet
Jeff SCOTT: Fanfare (World Premiere, commissioned by Orpheus)
HAYDN: Symphony No. 77 in B-flat Major HUMMEL: Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major, S. 49
MOZART: Symphony No. 33 in B-flat Major, K. 319

Saturday, January 21, 2023
Change the Frame
Renaud Capuçon, violin
Hanna BENN: New Work (World Premiere, commissioned by Orpheus)
PROKOFIEV (arr. Andrei Pushkarev): Sonata in F Minor for Violin, Strings and Percussion (Op. 80)
MUSSORGSKY (arr. Jannina Norpoth): Pictures at an Exhibition

Saturday, May 20, 2023
Voices Lifted
Will Liverman, baritone; Karen Slack, soprano
TRADITIONAL: Spirituals (in memory of Paul Robeson)
BEETHOVEN: Incidental Music to Egmont, Op. 84

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.

Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf
+1 517 648 2339