Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
490 Riverside Drive, 11th floor
New York, NY 10027-5788
(212) 896 1700
For immediate release
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is widely known as a trailblazer in the classical music community. Since its inception half a century ago, the famously conductor-less ensemble has become one of the most distinctive chamber orchestras in the world through its commitment to championing music by living composers, finding inventive and meaningful ways to collaborate with different artistic media, engaging and fostering relationships with musical and non-musical organizations, and above all, for its striking artistry. This spring, each of these tenets of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s operations culminates in two separate engagements with award-winning titans of the film industry: legendary composer Danny Elfman, and actor Liev Schreiber.
On May 4, Orpheus will perform the world premiere of a Suite for Chamber Orchestra by four-time Oscar-nominated composer Danny Elfman. This work is commissioned by The Library of Congress, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. The performance continues with guest violinist Chad Hoopes performing an arrangement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor; the stunning “Pictures at an Exhibition” reimagined by Jannina Norpoth concludes the program.
DANNY ELFMAN: Suite for Chamber Orchestra (World Premiere)
Commissioned by the Library of Congress, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
MENDELSSOHN (arr. DAVID WALTER): Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Chad Hoopes, violin
MUSSORGSKY (arr. JANNINA NORPOTH): Pictures at an Exhibition
“Heroes Unite” at Carnegie Hall pays homage to fearless voices, with Beethoven’s setting of Goethe’s historical drama, Egmont, featuring an incisive new translation of the text narrated by actor Liev Schreiber; and, the clarion voice of Karen Slack. This spectacular version of the piece was premiered by Orpheus in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its reprisal at Carnegie Hall has been anticipated since its initial success. The “muscular-voiced baritone” (The New York Times) Will Liverman joins Orpheus to reimagine spirituals in a tribute to the heroic singer-activist Paul Robeson, whose 125th anniversary will be celebrated this year.
JASMINE BARNES: Songs of Paul (125th birthday tribute to Paul Robeson) (World Premiere, Orpheus Commission)
Will Liverman, baritone
Karen Slack, soprano
BEETHOVEN (arr. TARKMANN): Incidental Music to Egmont, Op. 84
Liev Schreiber, narrator
Karen Slack, soprano
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