Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
490 Riverside Drive, 11th floor
New York, NY 10027-5788
(212) 896 1700
On Saturday, October 14, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York’s iconically conductor-less chamber orchestra, begins its 51st season with a musical partner and old friend, saxophonist Branford Marsalis
Orpheus and saxophonist Marsalis have enjoyed collaborating on dozens of performances and recordings over the years, and they have developed a uniquely inherent musical connection
New Orleans-born Branford Marsalis, who has collaborated with everyone from the Grateful Dead and Sting, to Spike Lee to his own legendary family, is an award-winning saxophonist, band leader, featured classical soloist, and a film and Broadway composer. In the process, he has become a multi award-winning artist with three Grammys, a citation by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Jazz Master and an avatar of contemporary artistic excellence
Saturday, October 14, 2023 at 8PM
Le rythme de vie
Branford Marsalis, saxophone
RAVEL Très rythmé from String Quartet (Orchestrated by Michi Wiancko*)
IBERT Concertino da camera
Allegro con moto
Branford Marsalis, saxophone
LECUONA Andalucía (Orchestrated by Jannina Norpoth*)
Antonio GARCÍA Homecoming: A New Orleans Journey (New Orpheus Commission)
Road Home –
The Reckoning –
The Latin Quartet
DEBUSSY Rhapsody for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (Orchestrated by Zachary Wadsworth*)
Branford Marsalis, saxophone
GERSHWIN An American in Paris (Adapted by Javier Diaz*)
Branford Marsalis, saxophone
*Commissioned by Orpheus
The Orpheus fingerprint - defined by innovation and exploring new musical ideas - can be felt throughout the program with several of its artistic partners shaping the framework, with: a newly-commissioned work by Antonio García, a world premiere arrangement of Gershwin by Javier Diaz, and orchestrations by Jannina Norpoth, Zachary Wadsworth, and Michi Wiancko
In January 2022, Orpheus and Marsalis toured for eight performances across the US, in a program which explored the intersectionality of the jazz and classical genres
Notably, Marsalis’ album Creation with Orpheus has been one of his most successful recordings to date, with AllMusic affirming, “[Marsalis] has the expert backing of New York City's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, who doesn't use a conductor and doesn't need one. For Marsalis' fans, this album is also a rare opportunity to hear him on alto saxophone, along with soprano, and like his brother, Wynton, Branford Marsalis plays entirely and knowingly within the classical style…”
Days following this series of performances, Orpheus begins its season with CaringKind, New York City’s leading expert on dementia caregiving, with the first of four concerts under the Orpheus Reflections banner. Through these programs designed to bring free concerts to New Yorkers living with dementia and their caregivers, Orpheus deepens its ever-present priority of engaging meaningfully with music, both on stage and in the community
About Orpheus Chamber Orchestra:
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 into 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 of Europe and Asia. Its catalog 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 GoodeandBranford Marsalis,and in the commitment to welcoming next-generation artists includingNobuyuki Tsujiiand 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 this communal legacy forward, counting on their shared artistry and mutual respect to make music and effect change.
About Branford Marsalis:
Branford Marsalis has stayed the course. From his early acclaim as a saxophonist bringing new energy and new audiences to the jazz art, he has refined and expanded his talents and his horizons as a musician, composer, bandleader and educator - a 21st Century mainstay of artistic excellence.
Growing up in the rich environment of New Orleans as the oldest son of pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, Branford was drawn to music along with siblings Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. His first instrument, the clarinet, gave way to the alto and then the tenor and soprano saxophones when the teenage Branford began working in local bands. A growing fascination with jazz as he entered college gave him the basic tools to obtain his first major jobs, with trumpet legend Clark Terry and alongside Wynton in Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers. When the brothers left to form the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, the world of uncompromising acoustic jazz was invigorated. Branford formed his own quartet in 1986 and, with a few minor interruptions in the early years, has sustained the unit as his primary means of expression. Known for the telepathic communication among its uncommonly consistent personnel, its deep book of original music replete with expressive melodies and provocative forms, and an unrivaled spirit in both live and recorded performances, the Branford Marsalis Quartet has long been recognized as the standard to which other ensembles of its kind must be measured.
Branford has not confined his music to the quartet context however. Classical music inhabits a growing portion of Branford’s musical universe. A frequent soloist with classical ensembles, Branford has become increasingly sought after as a featured soloist with such acclaimed orchestras as the Chicago, Detroit, Düsseldorf, and North Carolina Symphonies and the Boston Pops, with a growing repertoire that includes compositions by Debussy, Glazunov, Ibert, Mahler, Milhaud, Rorem and Vaughn Williams.
Broadway has also welcomed Branford’s contributions. His initial effort, original music for a revival of August Wilson’s Fences, garnered a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music in a Play and a Tony nomination for Best Original Score Written for the Theater. Branford also provided music for The Mountaintop, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, and served as musical curator for the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun. Branford’s screen credits include the original music for Mo’ Better Blues and acting roles in School Daze and Throw Momma from the Train.
Some might gauge Branford Marsalis’s success by his numerous awards, including three Grammys and (together with his father and brothers) his citation as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. To Branford, however, these are only way stations along what continues to be one of the most fascinating and rewarding journeys in the world of music.
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