The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is a world-renowned, Grammy Award-winning, conductorless, classical music chamber orchestra based in New York City which is known for a unique style collaborative leadership in which the musicians interpret the music, not a conductor.
Founded in 1972, by cellist Julian Fifer and a group of fellow musicians who aspired to perform orchestral repertoire without a conductor, Orpheus is a self-governing organization. Central to its distinctive personality is its unique practice of sharing and rotating leadership roles. For every work, the members of the orchestra select the concertmaster and the principal players for each section. These players constitute the core group, whose role is to form the initial concept of the piece and to shape the rehearsal process. In the final rehearsals, all members of the orchestra participate in refining the interpretation and execution, with members taking turns listening from the auditorium for balance, blend, articulation, dynamic range and clarity of expression.
The Orpheus recording legacy consists of nearly 70 albums. Their extensive catalog for Deutsche Grammophon includes Baroque masterworks of Handel, Corelli and Vivaldi, Haydn symphonies, Mozart symphonies and serenades, the complete Mozart wind concerti with Orpheus members as soloists, Romantic works by Dvorak, Grieg and Tchaikovsky and a number of twentieth-century classics by Bartok, Prokofiev, Faure, Ravel, Schoenberg, Ives, Copland, and Stravinsky. Recent releases include a recording of English and America folk songs with countertenor Andreas Scholl (Decca); Creation, a collection the jazz-inspired music from 1920's Paris with saxophonist Branford Marsalis (SONY Classical); and a critically-acclaimed series of recordings of Mozart's greatest piano concerti with Richard Goode (Nonesuch).
Individual members of Orpheus have received recognition for solo, chamber music, and orchestral performances. Each brings a diversity of musical experience to the orchestra, which constantly enriches and nurtures the musical growth of the ensemble. Of the 18 string and 10 wind players who comprise the basic membership of Orpheus, many also hold teaching positions at prominent conservatories and universities in the New York and New England areas, including Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, Montclair State University, Mannes College of Music, and Columbia and Yale Universities.
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