Carnegie Hall presents Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Maxim Vengerov for two dates, in addition to Orpheus’ own Carnegie presentations, with Garrick Ohlsson, Pablo Sáinz-Villegas, and Anne Akiko Meyers

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra was founded as an anomaly more than 50 years ago and remains anomalous today. Built upon the vision of democracy and self-governance at the forefront of all its operations, Orpheus is singular in that rare balance between trusting and challenging its own status quo, and thus, it is an ensemble that is steadfast in its hunger for artistic fulfillment. Implementing a unique system in which no single individual controls the majority of artistic or musical directorship, but one in which everyone is equal and valued, Orpheus is an organization which has developed the profound ability to listen – as musicians, colleagues, and peers. 

Executive Director Alexander Scheirle states, “Our 52nd season explores Orpheus’ creative drive and we’re thrilled to engage with collaborators whose artistic appetites align with ours. A two-night, all-Mozart project in the same season as three world premieres is indicative of our commitment to not only the cherished musical legacies of the past but also to the exploration of the music that will shape our future.”

Collaboration and community are at the heart of everything at Orpheus. Whether pairing with partner organizations for educational or engagement opportunities, appointing and rotating artistic directors from within the orchestra for a set term, or programming guest soloists who share Orpheus’s passion and vision of classical music in the 21st century, Orpheus thrives on connectivity and continues to seek new ways to expand and deepen those relationships. “It is both professionally and personally fulfilling to live and work within Orpheus’s inquisitive headspace,” says Orpheus violinist and artistic director Abi Fayette (Artistic Director). “Each guest artist, partner organization, or audience we engage brings an entirely different perspective and challenges us to see things differently, whether that’s a piece of music, how we relate to each other in rehearsals, or how we can more effectively communicate with various communities.”  In the 2024/25 season, this is especially apparent at Carnegie Hall, Orpheus’s performing home, with five performances at the storied concert hall; and, in the four soloists appearing with the orchestra, with previous and new colleagues joining the extraordinary roster of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra collaborators.

The orchestra welcomes back pianist Garrick Ohlsson on September 28 in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, and violinist Anne Akiko Meyers in Zankel Hall on May 17, 2025 (in a performance which features the world premiere of a new work by Eric Whitacre and the composer’s first for violin, commissioned by Ms. Meyers); guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas (Zankel) on March 1, 2025; and, for the first time, Orpheus performs as a part of Carnegie Hall’s acclaimed Perspectives series (performing Mozart’s complete works for violin and orchestra) with Carnegie Hall Perspectives artist, violinist Maxim Vengerov (Stern/Perelman) on November 6 and 7.

Orpheus trumpeter and artistic director Louis Hanzlik remarks, “Reuniting with a guest soloist for an Orpheus concert is akin to  reuniting with an old friend. Garrick Ohlsson, Maxim Vengerov, and Anne Akiko Meyers are musicians who add tremendous insight to everything they play, and it is always an honor and pleasure to join them onstage; and, we very much look forward to a long-awaited collaboration with Pablo Sáinz-Villegas.”

Repertoire in 2024/25 is a thrilling and meticulously-curated exploration of Orpheus’s musical palate, with its season bookended by new works by American composers and Grammy Award winners Billy Childs (co-commissioned by St. Paul Chamber Orchestra) and Eric Whitacre. New music remains a vital element of Orpheus’s programming throughout the season, with works by Caroline Shaw; and a new work, commissioned by Orpheus, by Cuban composer Jorge Amado. Mozart plays an invaluable part in Orpheus’s repertoire this season, with both Vengerov concerts featuring all-Mozart programs, and Orpheus musicians Miho Saegusa (violin) and Lawrence Power (viola) as respective soloists. Additional musical selections include works by Brahms, Haydn, Vaughan Williams, Beethoven, Rodrigo, Ponce, and Gabriela Ortiz round out a season that ranges tremendously in compositional style, era, country of origin, and even voicing, with both solo pieces and larger orchestral suites arranged to fit Orpheus’ instrumentation. 

While performing on major stages is a staple of every season, it is the other mainstays of Orpheus’ operations which distinguish it as an ensemble that truly exists for the wider community, and not merely for a select population of concert-goers. Initiatives like Orpheus Reflections™, Club OrpheusOrpheus Leadership Institute, and  Access Orpheus are champions of deeply meaningful engagement. Whether connecting with New Yorkers with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and their caregivers through the power of music, or sharing radical new musical ideas over a pint in a local brewery, Orpheus’ raison d’être is to rejoice in both diversity and commonality with music as the vessel.

The 2024/25 season is also a new beginning for Orpheus, as they join the esteemed roster of Arts Management Group, Inc. Under the guidance of William Capone and expertise of Filipe Nieto and Timothy Mar, Orpheus looks forward to this next phase in its concertizing, at home and internationally. 

~~~

Carnegie Hall – Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Saturday, September 28, 2024  
Generations
Garrick Ohlsson, piano    
BILLY CHILDS: New Work (Commissioned by Orpheus and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra)
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K. 271, Jeunehomme 
BRAHMS: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 (orchestrated by Michael Stephen Brown)

~~~

Carnegie Hall – Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage (Carnegie Hall Presentation)
Wednesday, November 6, 2024
Maxim Vengerov, violin
Miho Saegusa, violin
ALL-MOZART: 
Concertone for Two Violins, K. 190
Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
Adagio for Violin and Orchestra in E Major, K. 261
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218

~~~

Carnegie Hall – Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage (Carnegie Hall Presentation)
Thursday, November 7, 2024  
Maxim Vengerov, piano  
Lawrence Power, viola
ALL-MOZART:
Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Major, K. 211
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219, Turkish
Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major, K. 384

~~~

Carnegie Hall – Zankel Hall
Saturday, March 1, 2025  
Noche de Fantasías
Pablo Sáinz-Villegas, guitar  
GABRIELA ORTIZ: La Calaca
RODRIGO: Fantasía para un Gentilhombre
JORGE AMADO: New work (commissioned by Orpheus)
PONCE: Estampas Nocturnas

~~~

Carnegie Hall – Zankel Hall
Saturday, May 18, 2025
Taking Flight
Anne Akiko Meyers, violin
HAYDN: String Quartet, Op.64 No. 5, The Lark (orchestrated by Dov Scheindlin)
ERIC WHITACRE: New Work (world premiere, commissioned by Anne Akiko Meyers) 
CAROLINE SHAW: and the swallow (arranged by Julian Azkoul)
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: The Lark Ascending
BEETHOVEN: Moonlight  Sonata for Chamber Orchestra (orchestrated by Sahun Sam Hong)

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is a radical experiment in musical democracy, proving for fifty years what happens when exceptional artists gather with total trust in each other and faith in the creative process. Orpheus began in 1972 when cellist Julian Fifer assembled a group of New York freelancers in their early twenties to play orchestral repertoire as if it were chamber music. In that age of co-ops and communes, the idealistic Orpheans snubbed the “corporate” path of symphony orchestras and learned how to play, plan and promote concerts as a true collective, with leadership roles rotating from the very first performance. 

It’s one thing for the four players of a string quartet to lean in to the group sound and react spontaneously, but with 20 or 30 musicians together, the complexities and payoffs get magnified exponentially. Within its first decade, Orpheus made Carnegie Hall its home and became a global sensation through its tours Europe and Asia. Its catalogue of recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Nonesuch and other labels grew to include more that 70 albums that still stand as benchmarks of the chamber orchestra repertoire, including Haydn symphonies, Mozart concertos, and twentieth-century gems by Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Ravel and Bartók. 

The sound of Orpheus is defined by its relationships, and guest artists have always been crucial partners in the process. Orpheus brings the best out of its collaborators, and those bonds deepen over time, as heard in the long arc of music-making with soloists such as Richard Goode and Branford Marsalis, and in the commitment to welcoming next-generation artists including Nobyuki Tsujii  and Tine Thing Helseth. Breaking down the barriers of classical repertoire, partnerships with Brad Mehldau, Wayne Shorter, Ravi Shankar and many others from the sphere of jazz and beyond have redefined what a chamber orchestra can do. Relationships with composers and dozens of commissions have been another crucial way that Orpheus stretches itself, including a role for Jessie Montgomery as the orchestra’s first ever Artistic Partner. Having proven the power of direct communication and open-mindedness within the ensemble, the only relationship Orpheus has never had any use for is one with a conductor.

At home in New York and in the many concert halls it visits in the U.S. and beyond, Orpheus begins its next fifty years with a renewed commitment to enriching and reflecting the surrounding community.It will continue its groundbreaking work with those living with Alzheimer’s Disease through Orpheus Reflections, and the Orpheus Academy as well as the Orpheus Leadership Institute spread the positive lessons of trust and democracy to young musicians and those in positions of power. Each year, Access Orpheus reaches nearly 2000 public school students in all five boroughs of New York City, bringing music into their communities and welcoming them to Carnegie Hall. Always evolving as artists and leaders, the Orpheus musicians carry their legacy forward, counting on their shared artistry and mutual respect to make music and effect change.