June 20, 2017
Glimpse of a Suffering Soul
February 4, 2017
Michael Hersch’s “end stages,” commissioned and given its New York premiere by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, was a little-relieved cry of anguish and anger in the face of terminal illness and death. But with a faint tolling of orchestral bells and whimpers in the violins at the end of the second movement, attitude gave way to what seemed a touching glimpse of the suffering soul itself. – JAMES R. OESTREICH
Movements as Moments
March 18, 2017
I know the conductorless Orpheus players mainly for their work in Classical and Romantic music, like the Schubert, Mendelssohn and Schumann pieces they dispatched efficiently on this occasion at Carnegie Hall. So it was a delightful departure to hear them work through the somewhat pricklier strains of the Five Movements for String Orchestra (Op. 5) by Anton Webern, that tersest of composers, whose entire output consists of little more than evanescent, well, moments. – JAMES R. OESTREICH
October 27, 2016
The conductorless chamber orchestra’s first foray of the season at Carnegie Hall consists mostly of taut and sparkling pieces in the spirit of Classicism by Mozart, Beethoven (the Piano Concerto No.
1 in C Major, with Christian Zacharias), and Bizet (the Symphony in C Major). The wild card is a world première by the young composer Jessie Montgomery: “Records from a Vanishing City,” a work inspired by Montgomery’s childhood years on Avenue A, where her father owned a rehearsal studio.
The conductorless chamber orchestra’s next Carnegie Hall appearance presents the visceral Turkish pianist-composer Fazil Say, who performs his Concerto No. 2, Op. 4, “Silk Road,” a work driven by the multicultural folk music heard along the ancient trade route. Say also plays Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, while the orchestra goes it alone in Rossini’s Overture to “La Scala di Seta” and Haydn’s Symphony No. 83 (“The Hen”).
Two-thirds of the conductorless chamber orchestra’s latest program is deeply traditional: a
performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto that features the winning soloist Vadim Gluzman—who
plays a Stradivarius once owned by Leopold Auer, the concerto’s original dedicatee—and a rendition
of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, “Scotch.” The ensemble also continues its decades-long advocacy of
exceptional new music with the New York première of “End Stages,” a reflection on mortality by the
American composer Michael Hersch.
The excellent young cellist Alisa Weilerstein is featured in Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A Minor, a work well suited to her probing intellect and passionate inclinations. The neatly balanced
program also includes Mendelssohn’s regal, buoyant Overture for Winds in C Major (Op. 24), Webern’s iridescent Five Pieces (Op. 10), and Schubert’s blithe Symphony No. 6 in C Major.
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Is ‘Electrifying’ at Carnegie Hall
February 7, 2017
On February 4 at Carnegie Hall, the famously conductorless Orpheus Chamber Orchestra presented a performance of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Violin Concerto with a twist: the soloist Vadim Gluzman played the piece on the actual instrument that inspired the composer to write the piece. The violin in
question was owned at the time by Leopold Auer, who was the concertmaster of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Tchaikovsky wrote the piece for Auer to premiere, but the violinist, according to legend, declared the difficult work to be unplayable, and though he eventually warmed to it, Tchaikovsky didn’t live to hear him perform it.
Gluzman, the current proprietor of the very same 1690 Stradivarius, can no doubt give a spectacular rendition of the piece on any instrument, but these special circumstances turned this performance into something resembling a holy ritual. The audience was rapt as Gluzman drew dark, rich, opulent
sound out of the violin, playing with pure, sweet intonation and no-nonsense phrasing. He let the piece speak for itself, which it did gloriously, and every note of the blisteringly fast runs rang
out sonorously. His playing seemed almost frictionless, with no harsh attacks and nearly imperceptible bow changes. Gluzman gave a refreshingly unsyrupy rendering of the second movement’s
gorgeous, singing melody. Even when he stretched the phrases slightly it didn’t seem indulgent. Somehow the orchestra stayed with him in his bat- out-of-hell approach to the last movement, whose main theme seemed faster every time it reappeared. The call and response woodwind figures in the lyrical interludes were particularly well-shaped, and the headlong lunge to the end was
The amazing precision of ensemble that Orpheus displays without benefit of a conductor remains a marvel. The orchestra opened the program with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 in A minor (“Scottish”), and the level of personal commitment from the players was immediately obvious. With nobody on the
podium waving a stick, each orchestra member is more deeply involved, both musically and physically. Although this symphony is not one of the more overtly thrilling items in the
repertoire, the players treated the musical materials reverentially, with the kind of subtle shadings and shaping one associates with a charismatic conductor. The transitions between sections
of different tempos were done seamlessly, and the rhythmically vigorous passages came off with fireworks and verve. The concertmaster (it was a different player for each piece) clearly played a leadership role, but there was no obvious bobbing up and down to provide the beat—it was thoroughly
a group endeavor. The technically challenging second movement
featured snappy dotted rhythms and ended with remarkably synchronous string pizzicato. The ensemble’s warmly integrated string tone was especially apparent in the noble, regal third
movement; the players made serene poetry out of the long lyrical lines of the opening theme. In the exciting last movement vivace, the ensemble did subtle bends of tempo and shifts of dynamics as a near perfect unit. It was a model of virtuosity, cooperation, and commitment.
Preceeding the Tchaikovsky concerto on the second half was Michael Hersch’s twenty-minute, eight- movement work end stages, an Orpheus commission and New York City premiere. Like his recent chamber opera On the Threshold of Winter, which Hersch described as a sister piece, end stages is about
confronting terminal cancer. The first section opens with glassy sounding string effects, woodwind shrieks, and an unsettling low-register bassoon crescendo. Astringent harmonies and alternating
gestures of pain and placidity contribute to the depiction of a world in turmoil. In the fourth movement, the woodwinds attempt a relatively normal sounding chorale melody, but the other
instruments interrupt and then take over completely. Hersch has a formidable arsenal of modernist devices at his disposal, but it’s not just a bag of tricks; he’s expressing something profound and
deeply personal with his inventive sonorities, textures, and emphatic gestures. As he put it in brief spoken remarks before the performance, there is a lot of friction between writing something that is completely private but that gets communicated to other human beings. This piece is not
exactly a crowd-pleaser, but the audience could tell it took a lot of guts to write and they responded appreciatively to the authenticity.
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra: Champions of Collaboration
November 25, 2016
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra doesn’t have a single conductor—it
has dozens.The Grammy Award–winning ensemble consists of anywhere between 20 and 40 musicians who each have an
equal say in every piece they perform.During rehearsals this means any of the musicians may be asking, Is this tempo working? What colors do we want to bring out? What kind of breathing room do we want to give this phrase, and what are
the musical nuances of that phrase? Well, how about we play it and see? Then on stage, there is a higher level of physicality than audiences typically see in an orchestra. Section leaders are giving cues, leading with their bodies, the musicians constantly look to each other, while soloists face the audience to project their sound out. “You’ll see people playing their hearts out the entire concert,” said Eric Wyrick, one of the three artistic directors of Orpheus. “You’ll see a great physical commitment.”
At the heart of Orpheus, formed in 1972, is a democratic creative process and willingness to collaborate among all colleagues.
This is an ensemble made of musicians who want to have an effect on the end result, to be completely involved in an artistic presentation, and to feel like their voices are heard in the
process of bringing a great score to fruition.
Interpreting together. It starts with the score. Usually, the musicians in an orchestra work together to bring the conductor’s vision to fruition. The conductor interprets the music and in effect becomes an intermediary between the musicians and the composer, Wyrick said. In Orpheus, like with a chamber ensemble, there is no such figure to follow, so the musicians all
study the full orchestral score. First, a group of core musicians for the piece—section leaders—hash out a framework for the
interpretation. Then at the first rehearsal, it might all change. Anyone can contribute anything at any time. Up close, there are nuances and details in the playing and interaction between musicians that might never be heard or seen, Wyrick said. So in the rehearsal process, they also have people take a spot
in the audience to see what is translating beyond the stage and what needs more enunciation. “You want to project true from the music directly through to the audience, and you’re the person
that can do it, if you have the skills,” Wyrick said.
The performances also require the musicians to be nimble—there’s a spontaneity that’s unique to
chamber ensembles, said Alan Kay, a clarinetist and Orpheus artistic director. “Even from
performance to performance, things can change.
… Someone might be feeling something differently one night.”
“It means a high degree of listening,” said Kay, “More so than in a conducted, normal symphonic
situation where your eyes are really glued to the conductor. Our eyes—and more importantly, our
ears—are glued to each other so we can make changes at the drop of a hat.”
For bigger symphonic works, this can be a challenge. And because everyone needs to be able to see
each other, there’s also a limit on how many people can be onstage at once.
Take Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which Orpheus tackled just four years ago. The musicians knew they
would not have the mass—the sheer number of strings—usually associated with that symphony, but the
musicians wanted to be able to bring their style of playing to the piece as well. This is a piece that has been played thousands and thousands of times, Kay said. It could be “easy
to sit back and let it play itself.”
“But to explore it, to dig in, to try to find new things about it, to try to make it feel new and
fresh, is a great challenge, and that’s what we always try to do,” Kay said.
“We’re all involved in collaborating in a final artistic product, the music making at the highest
“We want to present a strong point of view about a piece as we possibly can. Not just let a piece
fly by, but to really present a piece with a perspective.”
Orpheus, which presents a program at Carnegie Hall every season, was founded by a group of
musicians who wanted to create an orchestra with the intimacy of a chamber ensemble. The idea was
that all the musicians involved have good ideas and a vision for the pieces they perform and want
to contribute them. In the orchestra world, this is an anomaly.
Eric Wyrick (R) performing with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. (Brian Hatton)
Orpheus’s democratic approach to the creative process eventually became the subject of a Harvard
Business case study, which drew attention in the education and business fields. The group’s
leadership and decision-making process, called the Orpheus Process, has even been trademarked, and
musicians have brought it into school programs over the years.
It’s not always easy. It involves leadership, interaction with other players, negotiating ideas,
diplomacy, and facilitating a means to consensus and agreement, Wyrick said. “It is so much about
communication within the ranks directly—directly with the musicians and directly with the score as
In many interviews and case studies, musicians expressed great satisfaction with the work and art.
The quality of music has also only increased as Orpheus matures, according to critics (and shown by
increased ticket sales).
Researchers including the late Harvard psychology professor J. Richard Hackman and FastCompany
founder William Taylor credit the sense of responsibility the musicians feel.
Kay says this is because it is a gift. “It’s a great gift, to be able to play music for an
audience, to be able to play with great musicians,” he said.
Collaboration With Others
Orpheus also collaborates with musicians outside of the ensemble on a regular basis. Sometimes
these are new composers, sometimes they are soloists, and sometimes they work with musicians who
“[Music] is a social, collaborative art form,” Wyrick said. “You have to have goodwill in order to
be productive. It’s a model for life, it’s a model for business, it’s a model for success.”
On Dec. 3, Orpheus will play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 at Carnegie Hall with pianist Fazil
Say, as well as “Silk Road,” a piece composed by Say.
The process is still collaborative with input from all sides, but in these cases, the soloist is
basically a leader among leaders, Kay said. “If we’re doing a Mozart piano concerto, we’re usually
playing it with a pianist who’s played it a hundred times before. We want to know, we want to
understand what their interpretation is. We want to get as close as possible to representing that
person’s views as we can.” The same goes for when they are playing with the composer as a soloist.
“Somebody once said our job as musicians should be to make old music sound new and to make new
music sound old
—I think that’s really great and I think it’s true,” Kay said. “With a brand new piece of music, we
want to make it sound so convincing that an audience is willing to give it a shot.”
Alan Kay (C) with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. (Brian Hatton)
Orpheus sees itself as part of the long continuum of classical music. In addition to playing new
works by emerging composers, the ensemble has also commissioned about 50 new works to date.
“Part of keeping classical music alive is creating new classical music. That has always been so,”
Wyrick said. “We’re hoping we can expand the canon of our art form.”
Jessie Montgomery première shines among the classics at Carnegie Hall
By Rebecca Lentjes October 30, 2016
The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra morphed into a vibrant sonification of Manhattan’s Lower East Side
during the New York première of Jessie Montgomery’s Records from a Vanishing City at Carnegie Hall.
The conductorless chamber orchestra sounded fantastic – clean and bright – all evening. Yet on a
program of otherwise fairly standard repertoire (Mozart, Beethoven, and Bizet), Ms Montgomery’s
piece was a breath of fresh air. Musical styles from avant-garde jazz to Angolan lullabies
quarreled and overlapped, keeping our ears pricked for the duration of the piece. Ms Montgomery’s
records brought not only the diverse noises and rhythms of New York City, but an array of world
musics and melodies, to life. From a Gershwinesque wailing clarinet to the vaguely tonal pulsing of
the strings running like traffic throughout the piece, Ms Montgomery’s piece was a joy to listen
to. The colorful mélange of unexpected textures and harmonies livened up a program that was
otherwise heavy on repeated expositions and other familiar formulas.
Jessie Montgomery © Jiyang Chen
Prior to the première, just after intermission, Ms Montgomery was joined onstage by core violist
Dov Scheindlin, who asked her about the genesis of the piece. She explained that her childhood
growing up on the Lower East Side throughout the 1980s and 90s had been rich in art and music. When
a close friend died and left behind his LP collection, she was inspired to amalgamate the different
musical styles found on them into her latest compositional endeavor. “So, the ‘records’ of the
title are not just memories but LPs?” Mr Scheindlin asked, to which Ms Montgomery agreed, also
acknowledging her excitement at having her “hometeam orchestra” perform the work. In the vein of
Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia, the three sections of Ms Montgomery’s work trekked through a series of
quotations and textures. The pace moved so quickly and there was so much overlap in style that it
was difficult to get a handle on during first listen; still, the exciting and challenging work left
little snippets running through my head afterwards.
Bizet’s Symphony in C major is always going to sound a little bland after a piece like Records from
a Vanishing City, but Orpheus transitioned fluidly back to the balance and restraint of the
Classical sound. Bizet wrote this precocious symphony at age 17, as a student at the Paris
Conservatory, and one can hear echoes of his later operas in the frolicking arpeggios and trickling
runs: I could imagine people in ballgowns milling about against a cardboard backdrop during the
first movement. The lyrical second movement sounded luminous in Orpheus’ careful delivery. In spite
of a few clumsy moments, the musicians sounded fantastic during the runaway third movement, which
despite the extreme tempo they played with conviction and grace.
The first half of the program had consisted of Mozart’s overture to La clemenza di Tito and
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in C major. The Mozart was the ideal stately concert opener,
played with plenty of pizzazz. The Beethoven was similarly spirited, though soloist Christian
Zacharias did not always match their lively energy. Mr Zacharias, whose recordings as a pianist and
as principal conductor of the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne have received acclaim, sounded
confident and, for the most part, precise. He has a strong yet sensitive touch, and the piano part
sounded impressive if occasionally sedate. Yet during the first movement, his left hand volume
overpowered the right hand during important passages, rendering the higher passages barely audible.
His tempo was at times uneven and his fingerwork not entirely clean, though the third movement
cadenza was scrupulously vigorous. Despite the slight disjunct between Mr Zacharias and Orpheus,
this was overall a polished interpretation, bringing a bit of warmth and shine to a rainy day in
New York City.
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Sumo Coregami
May 16, 2017
Music January 2017 – New York Chronicle
by Jay Nordlinger
Fazil Say is a lover of Mozart, and one of his best friends in music. Indeed, Say has just recorded
the complete piano sonatas of Mozart. With the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, he
played a Mozart concerto, that in C major, K. 467. He played his part with character, panache,
suavity, and glee. He brought his own cadenzas, and they were a hoot— ingenious hoots.
I often speak of pianists who “roll their own”—who write their own music, such as cadenzas,
arrangements, novelties, encores. Fazil Say is more than a roller of his own: he is a bona fide
composer. He has many works, of various kinds, to his credit, and that includes the piano concerto
he played with the Orpheus group after intermission. (The Mozart concerto was on the first half of
the program.) This is an early work, his Op. 4, his Piano Concerto No. 2, nicknamed “Silk Road.”
Say wrote the concerto in 1994, when he was in his mid-twenties. He was living in Berlin. And he
was going to a museum—in particular, the ethnomusicology section of a museum. There, he listened to
thousands and thousands of recordings. He was listening to folk music of Silk Road countries. And
he put some of what he heard in his Piano Concerto No. 2. I might note that he nicknamed his
concerto “Silk Road” before Yo-Yo Ma founded his project of the same name: a project that would
The concerto has four movements, or four sections. (There are no breaks in this piece.) They are
called “White Dove, Black Clouds,” “Hindu Dances,” “Massacre,” and “Earth Ballad.” They relate to
Tibet, India, Iraq, and Turkey. I should perhaps mention that Say himself is Turkish. I should also
say that his piano, for this concerto, is a prepared piano: a piano with objects put on or between
the strings, to produce different sounds. John Cage popularized this technique. Fazil Say has used
it to good and musical effect. His concerto is full of interesting sounds, coming from both the
piano and the orchestra. And these are not sounds for sounds’ sake. They are not exotica for
exotica’s sake. They serve a musical purpose.
Get ready for some made-up words—because I want to say that the concerto begins glissy, trilly, and
chromatic. I thought of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. There is a touch of minimalism along the way.
And some brutality: refined brutality. At its silliest, the piece could be the soundtrack for a
Kung Fu movie. I do not mean “silly” pejoratively. There is room for silliness in music, heaven
knows (and as Mozart knew, and as Say proved, in that concerto). Say’s work ends in simplicity and
quietude. It also ends on time. It ends before it can be too long. Earl Wild said, “Music ought to
say what it has to say, and get off the stage.” Evidently, Say agrees.
I look forward to hearing this work again, preferably played, as with Orpheus, by the composer
himself, who is a superb advocate of his own and others’ music.
Violinist Vadim Gluzman will perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Orpheus Chamber
Orchestra Sunday at Mechanics Hall
By Richard Duckett
Jan 18, 2017
In 1878 Tchaikovsky dedicated his newly written Violin Concerto to the renowned violinist and
teacher Leopold Auer, with the idea that Auer would perform the premiere of the work in March 1879.
Tchaikovsky admired Auer, who had played the violin at performances of several of his orchestral
compositions. So it must have been a considerable surprise when Auer turned down the opportunity to
debut the concerto in his name unless Tchaikovsky made changes to correct places in the work that
Auer felt “unviolinistic.”
The first rendering was eventually given by Adolph Brodsky in 1881, and the concerto is now
considered to be what Ukrainian-born Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman called “the bread and butter
for all classical violinists.”
Gluzman will be performing the work with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra when it comes to Mechanics
Hall on Sunday for a concert presented by Music Worcester Inc.
Auer (1845-1930) later denied saying the work was “unplayable,” but that term is also part of the
legend of the Auer-Tchaikovsky-Violin Concerto story.
Through it all, Auer’s own violin, a 1690 Stradivari, might have had different thoughts than Auer
on the subject.
“Whatever I will tell you is extremely subjective. I have no scientific proof. I do feel that the
violin is very happy playing Tchaikovsky,” Gluzman said, referring to the 1690 “ex-Leopold-Auer”
Stradivari that is now in his possession and which he will be playing when he performs
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on Sunday.
“Auer had played a number of other works by Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky heard this violin,” Gluzman
said of the musical instrument for which the Violin Concerto was composed. “I feel somehow on the
molecular level it is very happy when I play Tchaikovsky.”
Audiences have been happy to hear Gluzman playing the violin with renowned orchestras around the
world, including the Chicago Symphony, London Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, London Symphony
Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra and
Born to a musical family, Gluzman began his violin studies at 7, and an early mentor was the late Isaac Stern, generally considered to be one the greatest violinists of the 20th century. Gluzman is known for bringing “to life the glorious violinistic tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries” and has also championed the works of contemporary composers. Sunday’s concert will be his first appearance in Mechanics Hall. “I’ve heard many wonderful things (about Mechanics Hall) from friends and colleagues, so I’m looking forward,” Gluzman —
enthusiastic-sounding, friendly and often amusing — said during a recent telephone interview. The New York City-based Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which was founded in 1972, has been to Mechanics Hall before, opening the Music Worcester season in 2013. The group performs without a conductor, with “democracy at the center of artistic execution,” according to the orchestra.
Also scheduled on the program Sunday is a new work by American composer Michael Hersch titled “End Stages” and Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony (“Scottish”). Orpheus and Gluzman are performing the program on a tour that began Jan. 15 in Naples, Florida, and includes a Feb. 4 visit to Carnegie
Hall in New York City. Auer performed in Carnegie Hall — although apparently not Mechanics Hall — but this will be the first time Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto will be played there on Auer’s own violin.
Gluzman has performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra before and called its musicians “the crème
de la crème.” Tackling the concerto together “was sort of a double-decided decision between myself
and the orchestra,” Gluzman said. This is the first time Orpheus has rendered the concerto.
“It’s a very exciting process working with Orpheus. I think it could take it (the concerto) to
another realm in a way,” Gluzman said. The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto itself is a work of both
sweetness and fire (with some melodies that moviegoers will recognize), and also notorious for the
technical demands it places on the violinist. Did Auer have a point?
“Look, this was a great figure in music history. I would not doubt the clarity of his judgment, but
we never know what goes on in a person’s life at any given moment,” Gluzman said. “Maybe he was in
love. But we know this. He rewrote a few pages. He made all his students learn (the concerto).”
Several of Auer’s students, such as Mischa Elman, Nathan Milstein and Jascha Heifetz, became the
great names of early phonograph recordings.
“And these students made the concerto into the piece one can’t imagine a violinist to be without,”
Gluzman said. “So even though he (Auer) got it wrong, he made up for it.” The 1690 Stradivari has
been on extended loan to Gluzman for about 20 years from the Stradivari Society of Chicago. “It is
a huge responsibility to make sure the violin leaves my hands in the same shape that it arrived,”
In terms of looking after it, “you get used to it, or you don’t do certain things. I apply the same
rules that I apply to driving. Don’t drink and drive — I don’t drink and play.” Asked if he could
tell the difference between the “ex- Leopold Auer” and another violin of good quality if he were to
play them blindfolded, Gluzman said, “I have never tried, but I can tell you most certainly, yes
… It (the violin) is my vocal cord.”
Equally, however, “I’m not the owner. Even if I were I am only a passing subject in its history.
It’s a wooden box that has seen centuries of music making. Now I have my time with the violin,” he
With Orpheus, Gluzman said he is exploring Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto “through the prism of
chamber music-making” rather than with a traditional larger orchestra.
“I’m not saying better or worse, left or right, but I do think it gives a very different musical
angle. This is a different species. It is very exciting.”
Regarding the Orpheus’ “democratic” and collaborative approach, Gluzman said “there are pros and
cons to every idea, and nothing is ideal.” Still, the process “is very open, on the edge. There is
never a safety blanket, but that brings out an energy,” he said.
“Each concert is different, so buckle your seat belts.”
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra gives glorious performance
By Ken Keaton
Monday afternoon at the Kravis, the audience was given a masterly concert by the Orpheus Chamber
Orchestra, with performances of Felix Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony and the Pytor Tchaikovsky
violin concerto with soloist Vadim Gluzman.
Orpheus was founded in 1972, and famously performs without a conductor. Upon hearing the musicians
play, one must wonder, who needs one? In most orchestras, the conductor is the final arbiter, but
still relies on the artistry of the members to varying degrees.
Orpheus developed a process to arrive at those decisions democratically — the Orpheus Process has
been trademarked and studied in leadership seminars such places as Harvard or Morgan-
Stanley. Core musicians meet initially to develop the interpretation, but all members contribute in
rehearsals as music is prepared.
The results are stunning. In the Mendelssohn, the orchestra played like a magnificent chamber
group, with subtleties of phrasing, tone, balance and dynamics all emerging as if from collective
The balance — of everything — was perfect. All was just as it should be, from the sound color to
the overall architecture of the symphony as a whole. Solo lines and sections blended perfectly,
melodies sang forth with irresistible appeal. And when the final allegro maestoso emerged — surely
one of the most magical moments in all music — listeners’ hearts soared into the heavens. It was
The second half began with a new composition by Richard Prior of Emory University, A Canticle of
Shadows. Scored for string orchestra, it was inspired by images of destruction we have seen
emerging from the Middle East. The work was solemn, dark, deeply sorrowful — reminiscent of the
works of Arvo Pärt, both in style and in spirituality.
Then Israeli violinist Gluzman joined Orpheus for the Tchaikovsky Concerto for Violin. This is one
of the most beloved violin concertos, but it had a rocky beginning. Tchaikovsky composed it in a
white-hot burst of inspiration, in the space of 25 days. He intended it for Leopold Auer, but that
great virtuoso lacked the technique for the work’s demands, and it was introduced later by Adolph
But the work has no terrors for Gluzman, It helps that he plays on the 1690 Stradivarius, once
owned by Auer. My, but that Strad sounded sweet. And Gluzman gave the work an amazing performance.
In the first movement, he emphasized the lyrical aspects — at least that was the impression he
left, that of beautiful melodies and phrasing, perhaps because the virtuosic passages were executed
with absolute ease and command, no matter how challenging.
In the second movement, Gluzman went straight to the heart of that beautiful set of melodies,
performing with exquisite sensitivity. And the finale was absolute fireworks and excitement, played
with perfection and verve.
The audience naturally demanded an encore, so Gluzman and Orpheus gave us a delightfully tacky
polka from Dmitri Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite. A perfect ending.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Cocktails in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Club for Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s annual Gala.
On Thursday, May 4, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra hosted its annual Gala at the Metropolitan Club. This year’s Gala honored Robert F. Arning, Vice Chair of Market Development at KPMG, and celebrated the long-standing partnership between Orpheus and KPMG, marking their shared ideals of collaboration,
innovation, and excellence on a global stage. With the help of Mr. Arning and KPMG’s advocacy, Orpheus has developed a unique cultural niche in both the US and aboard, particularly in Japan,
where Orpheus has toured for over twenty-five years.
Orpheus Executive Director Alexander Scheirle
Guests were treated to a private performance by Orpheus, joined by double bassist Xavier Foley, the winner of the prestigious 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. Proceeds from the
Gala will support Orpheus’ education initiative, Access Orpheus™, which reaches over 2,000 NYC public school students from all five boroughs annually.
Double bassist Xavier Foley joins Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for a private performance for Gala
Guests enjoy dinner following the performance
Guests included honoree Lisa and Robert Arning, Machiko and Kazutaka Mori of KPMG, Ambassador
Reiichiro and Madam Masako Takahashi of Japan, Consul General Brita Wagner of Germany, Graham
Parker of Universal Music Classics, Terrance McKnight and Elliott Forrest of WQXR, Masahide Enoki
of Ito En, Hideki Kunugi and Tadashi Matsushita of All Nippon Airways, Nobuyuki Kawabata of
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, Paul Gridley of Gridley & Co, John Thielke of Konica Minolta, Lisa
Rosenblum, Mitsuru Clair Chino, and Wendy Gimbel and Douglas Liebhafsky.
Nancy and Alan Brenner, Diane Looney, Rick Prinns and Connie Steensman, and Walt Looney
Miho Saegusa, violinist and newest member of Orpheus, the Japanese Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi,
and Hideki Kunugi, SVP The Americas and General Manager NY of All Nippon Airways
Kim Bleimann and Terrance McKnight
Paola Duran (far left) and Katie Ford (far right) with friends
Vicki Kellogg, Marsha Laufer, and Nancy Goodes
Cynthia Friedman and Graham Parker
Betsy Weinstock and Orpheus Board Member Kate Hughes Del Tufo
Machiko Mori and Honorary Gala Chair and Orpheus Board Member Kazutaka Mori, Lisa Arning and Honoree Robert Arning, and Orpheus Board Chairman Richard F. Brueckner