Wednesday, October 06, 2010

440 is coming for Orpheus

Next week, New York's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will begin its 2010-2011 season. On October 14, Orpheus will deliver its New York season premiere performance, featuring the internationally-recognized piano virtuoso Garrick Ohlsson and broadcast live on WQXR. During the intermission of the Opening Night performance, the four winners of Project 440,Orpheus' innovative new commissioning contest, will be announced on the air. Then, on October 15, students at the Manhattan School of Music will perform a final concert as part of the orchestra's Orpheus Institute.
A self-governing organization, 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. Today, Orpheus continues to uphold this philosophy, performing without a conductor and rotating musical leadership roles for each work. The effect is extraordinary: The Chicago Tribune gushes, "Orpheus Chamber Orchestra shattered the mold, becoming in the process one of the more memorable events in this festival's 13-year history." 
As the only American ever to win the Chopin International Piano Competition in Poland, Garrick Ohlsson is known around the world as a master of Chopin. Since winning that coveted prize in 1970, Ohlsson has developed a powerful, electric style that prompted a New York Times review entitled, "In a Pianist's Expanding Repertory, Currents of Energy, Humor, and Drama." Next week, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will welcome Ohlsson as guest soloist for Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, rounding out a program that also features Schubert's Symphony No. 4, "Tragic," and Berg's Lyric Suite. Orpheus and Ohlsson perform the same program on October 13 at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, and on October 15 at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT.
Founded in 2000, the Orpheus Institute finds members of the orchestra working directly with student chamber groups and ensembles to help develop a vital set of skills for collaborative music-making, including administrative problem solving, marketing, communication, and rehearsal management. Following the success of this program, Orpheus is in the process of securing funding for a major expansion of the Orpheus Institute. This expansion, set to begin in fall 2011, will feature a broader range of partnerships with different conservatories and universities across the country, including cross-curricular courses taught by Orpheus members. Click on the image to the left to watch an introductory video.
Project 440 is an exciting new commissioning program created by Orpheus in partnership with WQXR. Beginning with the selection of 60 composer nominees in June, Project 440has invited the community to listen to, learn about, and discuss new music from emerging compositional talents around the world. The project has been marked by multiple rounds of elimination, first to 30 semi-finalists and then to 12 finalists. The four winners of the competition, selected by a committee of Orpheus musicians and industry professionals, will receive a commission from the orchestra to be premiered in 2012. Click here for more information, available on the WQXR website.

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