Orpheus Chamber Orchestra


The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is one of the world's most esteemed small orchestras, perhaps most notable for what it lacks--namely, a conductor. Orpheus operates on the basis of rotating leadership among a collective group of equals. Co-founder Julian Fifer, a cellist, says he and a group of like-minded musicians were inspired to found the orchestra in 1972 from various ideals that grew during that era, including "questioning of authority and a Read more renewed emphasis on collective goals, [which] inspired [them] to create an ensemble whose artistic expression was based on shared leadership and responsibility."

For each work the group programs, a concertmaster and principal players are elected to determine the concept for the performance and to direct rehearsals. At final rehearsals, all members contribute to refining the performance and execution; in performance, the members play with chamber-music-like attention to each other. The results, characterized by great precision, character and dramatic flair, have distinguished Orpheus from all other conductorless ensembles, which often lack musical personality.

The basic orchestra normally comprises eighteen strings and around half that many winds. The core of their concert life is a subscription series at Carnegie Hall in New York, and an additional series at the city's Riverside Church.

Orpheus' repertory ranges from Vivaldi to contemporary works, some of which have been commissioned by the group. Most of their recordings have been issued on the Deutsche Grammophon label, but late in the 1990s they began to expand their list of recorded projects, including one of tango-based works by Astor Piazzolla, a jazz-inspired album of Gershwin and Ravel with Herbie Hancock on Verve, and a series of Mozart piano concertos with Richard Goode on Nonesuch.

In 1998 Orpheus undertook a major tour of Southeast Asia, including Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Brunei, Taipei, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, and Hanoi. This included the first performance in Vietnam by an American orchestra since the end of the Vietnam War. While in Hanoi, members of the orchestra conducted master classes on their instruments and on ensemble playing at the Hanoi National Conservatory of Music.

Back in the United States, the group has begun to share its philosophy of shared leadership with non-musical organizations, giving seminars to corporate executives (including those of Kraft Foods and Novartus Pharmaceuticals). Read less
Mendelssohn / Lisiecki, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Release Date: 02/15/2019   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002963402   Number of Discs: 1
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Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven

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  • 1.
    Gil Shaham: The Complete Deutsche Grammophon Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4836334 Release Date: 04/05/2019   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Aaron Copland,  André Previn,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Gil Shaham,  André Previn,  Jian Wang,  Göran Söllscher  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Pierre Boulez,  Claudio Abbado,  Giuseppe Sinopoli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Beethoven: The Creatures of Prometheus / Orpheus
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 419608 Release Date: 12/04/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7 / Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Orpheus   Catalog: 1 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Beethoven: Complete Concertos / Pollini, Kremer, Shaham [5-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001607002 Release Date: 10/18/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Maurizio Pollini,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Pascal Gallois,  Patrick Gallois  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugen Jochum,  Karl Böhm,  Kurt Sanderling,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Classical Hits / Orpheus CO
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 437782 Release Date: 08/30/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luigi Boccherini,  Franz Schubert,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
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