Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
490 Riverside Drive, 11th floor
New York, NY 10027-5788

(212) 896 1700

Press Kit

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Vijay Iyer Jazz Trio at 92NY

WEDNESDAY JUN 21 2023 8:01AM


For immediate release

New York premieres and an Ellington arrangement comprise the thrilling program performed by two musical trailblazers

  • The program includes two exciting New York premieres, one by Iyer himself, and Suite for Chamber Orchestra by film composer and living legend Danny Elfman.
  • CLICK HERE to view an excerpt  of the world premiere of Danny Elfman’s Suite for Chamber Orchestra, presented by the Library of Congress and co-commissioned by the Library, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, on May 4, 2023.
  • About Iyer, New Yorker has stated, “Vijay Iyer could be the poster boy for twenty-first-century jazz: omnivorous in his musical interests, socially and politically aware, his powers as a pianist, composer, and bandleader ever expanding … A triumph of small-group interchange and fertile invention.”

Orpheus & Vijay Iyer Trio

92NY | New York, NY
JUL 16 2023 | 5:00PM

VIJAY IYER Emergence for jazz trio and orchestra (New York Premiere)
       I’m Beginning to See the Light
       Sophisticated Lady
       Take the “A” Train
Mood Indigo
DANNY ELFMAN Suite for Chamber Orchestra (New York Premiere)

  • Additionally, following the success of the recently-established Club Orpheus concerts - co-presented with Groupmuse - the next iteration of the series will take place on July 9 at Flagship Brewery in Staten Island.
  • The program, performed by members of Orpheus and percussionist Javier Diaz, is a thrilling ride through jazz, Latin, and Afro/Cuban musical styles. Audience members can enjoy a local brew and two of New York’s most exciting performers.

Club Orpheus & Javier Diaz

Flagship Brewery | Staten Island, NY
JUL 9 2023 | 4:00PM

Jazz Set (arr. JAVIER DIAZ)
       Sway (Ruiz/Demetrio)
       Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (Farrés)
       Girl from Ipanema (Jobim)
Cuban Contradanza (arr. Javier Diaz)
       Contradanza 1 (Manuel Saumell)
       Contradanza 2 (Cervantes)
       Contradanza 3 (Manuel Saumell)
JAVIER DIAZ Fuga y Contradanza
Afro-Cuban Ara Tradition Chants (arr. Javier Diaz)
ANTONIO LAURO (arr. Javier Diaz)
Maria Luisa (Venezuelan Waltz)

  • Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is a leader of classical and contemporary classical music, but their ability to capture a musical expression of any genre is nothing short of chameleonic.
  • With collaboration at the forefront of Orpheus’ artistic ethos, the Orchestra recently gave the world premiere of four-time Oscar nominee Danny Elfman’s Suite for Chamber Orchestra (2023) at the Library of Congress.
  • Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is a cultural icon in New York City’s vibrant classical music scene. Famously conductor-less since its inception, Orpheus is built upon a democratic model of operations wherein all musicians are equal, all decisions are shared, and all artistic leadership is appointed from within. This season marked a major milestone in the Orchestra’s history, as it reached its 50th anniversary in 2022/23.
  • 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 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 Europe and Asia. Its catalogue of recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Nonesuch and other labels grew to include more than 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.


Described by The New York Times as a “social conscience, multimedia collaborator, system builder, rhapsodist, historical thinker and multicultural gateway,” Vijay Iyerhas carved out a unique path as an influential, prolific, shape-shifting presence in twenty-first-century music. A composer and pianist active across multiple musical communities, Iyer has created a consistently innovative, emotionally resonant body of work over the last twenty-five years, earning him a place as one of the leading music-makers of his generation.

He received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a United States Artist Fellowship, a Grammy nomination, the Alpert Award in the Arts, and two German “Echo” awards, and was voted Downbeat Magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year four times in the last decade. He has been praised by Pitchfork as “one of the best in the world at what he does,” by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.”

Iyer’s musical language is grounded in the rhythmic traditions of South Asia and West Africa, the African American creative music movement of the 60s and 70s, and the lineage of composer-pianists from Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk to Alice Coltrane and Geri Allen. He has released twenty-four albums of his music, most recently UnEasy (ECM Records, 2021), a trio session with drummer Tyshawn Sorey and bassist Linda May Han Oh; The Transitory Poems (ECM, 2019), a live duo recording with pianist Craig Taborn; Far From Over (ECM, 2017) with the award-winning Vijay Iyer Sextet; and A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke (ECM, 2016) a suite of duets with visionary composer-trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith.

Iyer is also an active composer for classical ensembles and soloists. His works have been commissioned and premiered by Brentano Quartet, Imani Winds, Bang on a Can All-Stars, The Silk Road Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, LA Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, and virtuosi Matt Haimowitz, Claire Chase, Shai Wosner, and Jennifer Koh, among others. He recently served as composer-in-residence at London’s Wigmore Hall, music director of the Ojai Music Festival, and artist-in-residence at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A tireless collaborator, he has written big-band music for Arturo O’Farrill and Darcy James Argue, remixed classic recordings of Talvin Singh and Meredith Monk, joined forces with legendary musicians Henry Threadgill, Reggie Workman, Zakir Hussain, and L. Subramanian, and developed interdisciplinary work with Teju Cole, Carrie Mae Weems, Mike Ladd, Prashant Bhargava, and Karole Armitage.

A longtime New Yorker, Iyer lives in central Harlem with his wife and daughter. He teaches at Harvard University in the Department of Music and the Department of African and African American Studies. He is a Steinway artist.

Javier Diaz is a percussionist, educator, and composer active in New York City. Javier plays regularly with the American Symphony Orchestra, chamber music groups, and Latin Jazz/Afro-Cuban folkloric groups in the New York area. He has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, New York Pops, New York Perspectives Ensemble, John Adams’ Zankel Hall New Music Band, and the Hillard Ensemble. He has been the principal percussionist in the Broadway productions of Guys and Dolls, Phil Collins’ Tarzan, The Wiz, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Rocky, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, Gloria Estefan’s On Your Feet!, and Once on this Island. Javier’s studio credits include Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, ECM’s Tituli (with the Hillard Ensemble) by Stephen Hartke, two albums with David Sanborn including Time and the River (produced by Marcus Miller), award-winning films such as Tango Flush and Jesus Camp, and many TV and radio commercials.

As an Afro-Cuban/Pop percussion specialist, Javier has appeared with: Sean Kingston, Diana Ross, Gladys Knights, Chaka Khan, Patty LaBelle, Lázaro Galarraga’s Afro-Cuban All Stars, percussionists Angel Luís Figueroa, Cándido Camero, Roman Díaz, Pedro Martínez, The Pan-American Jazz Band, The Ethnix, Anette Aguilar’s Latin Jazz Group, Marta Topferova, Edmar Castañeda, Tribal Sage World Music duo project with multi-percussionist Roger Squitero, World Percussion group Kalunga, and the New York World Music Institute.

An active educator, Javier has taught percussion at El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles y Infantiles de Venezuela, University of Connecticut, Rutgers University, Queens College (CUNY), New York University, and his private teaching studio in New York City and New Jersey. He has also taught Afro-Cuban percussion seminars, classes, and clinics at the Peabody Institute, University of Southern California, Percussion Artists Workshops Los Angeles/New York, Los Angeles school district, The Juilliard School, Rutgers University, Queens College, New York University, Boston Conservatory, University of Minnesota, and Mannes School of Music in New York City.

Mr. Diaz currently teaches the Afro-Latin percussion survey at the Juilliard School and directs the Afro-Cuban Percussion Ensemble at Rutgers University. His most recent book on Afro-Cuban percussion, The Afro-Cuban Handbook, has become an instant classic of the percussion literature.

As a composer, Javier has written chamber music, solo pieces, orchestral works, and electronic music. He has been commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival, New York University, and University of Southern California.

An alumnus of El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles y Infantiles de Venezuela and the Aspen Music Festival, Javier holds a BM from the University of Southern California, and MM from The Juilliard School, and a DMA from The Graduate Center (City University of New York).

Hannah Goldshlack-Wolf
+1 917 330 2046