Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Ensemble
biography

A standard-bearer of innovation and artistic excellence, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is one of the world’s foremost chamber orchestras. Orpheus was founded in 1972 by a group of like-minded young musicians determined to combine the intimacy and warmth of a chamber ensemble with the richness of an orchestra. With 71 albums, including the Grammy Award-winning Shadow Dances: Stravinsky Miniatures, and 43 commissioned and premiered original works, Orpheus rotates musical leadership roles for each work and strives to perform diverse repertoire through collaboration and open dialogue.

Performing without a conductor, Orpheus presents an annual series at Carnegie Hall and tours extensively to major national and international venues.  The 2016-17 Season is the first in Orpheus history to welcome back four celebrated soloists including pianists Christian Zacharias and Fazil Say, violinist Vadim Gluzman, and cellist Alisa Weilerstein. The season also features cutting-edge new works by American composers Jessie Montgomery and Michael Hersch, and thrilling symphonies by Haydn, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Bizet.

Orpheus has trademarked its signature mode of operation, the Orpheus Process™, an original method that places democracy at the center of artistic execution. It has been the focus of studies at Harvard and of leadership seminars at IBM, Morgan Stanley, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, among others.  Two unique education and engagement programs, Access Orpheus and Orpheus Institute, aim to bring this approach to students of all ages. 

Access Orpheus, Orpheus’ educational initiative, shares the orchestra’s collaborative music-making process with public school students from all five boroughs in New York City.  Because of declining resources for arts education, many public schools do not have access to fulltime arts teachers to provide music instruction and exposure to art and culture. Access Orpheus helps to bridge this gap with in-class visits, attendance at working rehearsals, and free tickets for performances at Carnegie Hall. 

Orpheus Institute brings the Orpheus Process™ and the orchestra’s musicians to select colleges, universities, conservatories, and businesses to work directly with leaders of tomorrow. Corporate employees and students in all fields of study learn from Orpheus’ creative process and in areas of collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, and shared leadership.  In the coming seasons, Orpheus will continue to share its leadership methods and performance practices as the ensemble provides audiences with the highest level of musicianship and programming.


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Short Profile

NameOrpheus Chamber Orchestra Founded1972
Home LocationNew York City, United States
Main languageEnglish
Reviews
Orpheus in Europe
2015-04-21 Bachtrack,
"The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra handled all difficulties with apparent ease, even in the rhythmically most difficult parts which was a real pleasure"
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Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Europe
2015-04-25 Tiroler Tageszeitung, Tirol
"The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and pianist Fazil Say- this seems to be more than a tour partnership. Freedom and democratic awareness meet spiritual kinship. Their master concert on Thursday was an evening which demanded attention from the audience and gave a lot in return"
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Orpheus Chamber Orchestra on the European Tour
2015-04-19 Kolner Stadt -Anzeiger, Köln
"The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra reacted with the most possible openness to the communicational offers of the pianist. This resulted into an exchange of captivating vitality"
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Orpheus on the Tour, Review at Der Taggespiegel
2015-04-23 Der Taggespiegel, Berlin
"The virtuosos of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra throw themselves into the music with enthusiasm…[In Wagner's Siegfried Idyll], the orchestra displayed beguiling sound sensuality"
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Orpheus on the European Tour
2015-04-22 Today's Zaman, Berlin
"Orpheus's program opened with a spiritually imbued performance of Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll" and closed with an energetic rendition of Haydn's Symphony No. 80. For an egalitarian conductorless ensemble that only uses one double bass player (the stalwart Jordan Frazier in this concert), they magically filled the room with the kind of finely tempered resonance, precision, and esprit de corps that comes with decades of working together. By adding Fazıl Say to the formula, it became a combustion engine that produced a riveting evening."
(ALEXANDRA IVANOFF)
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Orpheus at Carnegie Hall with Christian Tetzlaff
2014-03-31 New York Times, New York City
"Orpheus demonstrated its conductorless ability to render complex scores with taut precision and feverish excitement."
(VIVIEN SCHWEITZER)
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Nuance and Unanimity, No Conductor Required
2014-10-26 The New York Times, New York City
"Listeners' first reaction to the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, to judge from comments overheard, is amazement at the unanimity of the playing in the absence of a conductor."
(JAMES R. OESTREICH)
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