The Grammy® Award-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has invigorated international audiences and critics alike with its superior artistry, energy, and distinctive approach to music-making. Orpheus is committed to illuminating both traditional orchestral repertoire as well as new works by contemporary composers in a unique and liberating manner. Throughout its history, Orpheus has built a legacy with its acclaimed recordings, performances, and collaborations with the world's most esteemed and dynamic soloists. In addition to the Orchestra's extensive national and international touring schedule, the ensemble presents an annual concert series at Carnegie Hall and appears regularly at many major New York venues, including Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Orpheus was founded in 1972 by cellist Julian Fifer and a group of fellow musicians who aspired to perform diverse orchestral repertoire using chamber music ensemble techniques. One of the few self-governing ensembles playing today, Orpheus continues this philosophy, performing without a conductor and rotating musical leadership roles for each work. The Orchestra strives to empower its musicians by integrating them into virtually every facet of the organization, literally changing the way the world thinks about musicians, conductors, and orchestras.
The 2012-2013 season marks Orpheus Chamber Orchestra's 40th year of making internationally acclaimed music while reinventing the way the world thinks about collaboration, outreach, and democratic leadership. With over 70 albums, including the Grammy® Award-winning Shadow Dances: Stravinsky Miniatures, associations with the leading contemporary soloists, and 35 commissioned works as part of their history, Orpheus continues to grow this season, with innovative projects and new musical adventures around the globe. By performing without a conductor and integrating musicians into virtually every facet of the organization, Orpheus empowers its members and infuses performances with unparalleled energy.
2012-13 will be a season of firsts for Orpheus. The orchestra’s season will feature soloists mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke, baritone Nathan Gunn, violinst Anne Akiko Meyers, Wayne Shorter Quartet, Richard Goode, and composer-in-residence Gabriel Kahane. For their opening concert, Orpheus performs Beethoven’s iconic fifth symphony for the first time and, in December, debuts Barber’s Violin Concerto. Pianist Richard Goode—considered by many an honorary member of Orpheus for having played dozen of concerts and recorded four unmatched albums over a nearly four-decade period with the orchestra—will play Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Orpheus for the first time in March.
In addition to expanding their traditional repertoire, Orpheus has commissioned a staggering four world premieres this season. The season begins with the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas' Earth Echoes, a piece commissioned by Orpheus and written to commemorate the death of Gustav Mahler. In November, Orpheus tours Russia, Germany, and Austria with jazz pianist Brad Mehldau premiering a newly commissioned work by Mehldau, Variations for Piano and Orchestra on a Melancholy Theme, which American audiences will hear the following season. The tour with Mehldau also marks the first time Orpheus will visit Russia. Further highlighting the orchestra’s commitment to challenging itself by exploring the intersections between genres, Orpheus performs a new work by jazz legend Wayne Shorter. Finally, Orpheus ends its U.S. season with a large-scale new work by Gabriel Kahane, Orpheus' first ever composer-in-residence, based on the WPA.
The Orpheus Process™, an original method that places democracy at the center of artistic execution, has been the focus of studies at Harvard and Stanford, and of leadership seminars at Morgan Stanley and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, among others. On and off the stage, Orpheus provides learning opportunities for over 1,500 New York City public school students each year. The Orpheus Institute offers musicians, university students, and business leaders experiential training in collective leadership through the Orpheus Process™. With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program is expanding nationwide; the 2011-12 season featured the launch of a year-long residency at the University of Maryland. During the 2012-13 season, the Orpheus Institute will be in residence at Interlochen Arts Academy, University of Maryland, Dartmouth College, Muhlenberg College, University of Connecticut, and Metro State University. As artists-in-residence, Orpheus visits the campuses to facilitate coaching sessions, rehearsals, and master classes as well as performances.