Founded in 1972, Orpheus was created by a group of young musicians determined to combine the intimacy and warmth of a chamber ensemble with the richness of a full orchestra. The orchestra was created on a revolutionary principle: that an orchestra could succeed as a consortium of leaders. The Grammy Award-winning orchestra’s excellence in collaborative leadership has earned it a place amongst the world’s foremost chamber orchestras with an annual audience of 30,000 concertgoers worldwide. Orpheus, by empowering individuals through collaboration, innovation, and passion, strives for artistic excellence.
Members of the orchestra are integrated into virtually every facet of the organization. For every work, the musicians 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 final rehearsals, all members 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.
Orpheus’ commitment to education includes two initiatives: Access Orpheus provides over 2,000 New York City public school students from all five boroughs with free tickets to Orpheus concerts at Carnegie Hall; and Orpheus Institute offers collaborative leadership training to university-level music and non-music students, empowering individual voices within dynamic team-led projects.
Orpheus has collaborated with prestigious soloist and composers such as Isaac Stern, Gidon Kremer, Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, Yo-Yo Ma, Mischa Maisky, Emanuel Ax, Richard Goode, Wayne Shorter, Alica de Larrocha, Radu Lupu, Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel, Murray Perahia, Peter Serkin, Mitsuko Uchida, Tatiana Troyanos, Brad Mehldau, Maureen Forrester, Frederica von Stade, Peter Schreier, Anne Sophie von Otter, Dawn Upshaw, and Renée Fleming.
Orpheus is proud to continue its expansion of the chamber orchestra repertoire library; over 40 new works have been commissioned by the orchestra to date, the vast majority by contemporary American composers. In addition, Orpheus is thrilled to build on its own acclaimed, Grammy-winning catalogue of over 70 recordings by releasing two new albums in 2014. In this way, Orpheus reaffirms its presence as a vital force in music-making.
Orpheus UnWrapped is the orchestra’s program for schools meant to engage audiences in an intimate setting. Focused on the theme of that night’s performance, the program encourages discussion before and after the practice performance for young people. The pre-concert symposia series features dialogue with noted scholars and world-renowned guest artists, free to ticket holders for Orpheus' Carnegie Hall concert series.