Orion String Quartet
Hailed for its exquisite artistry, technical mastery and astute approach to concert programming, the Orion String Quartet is one of the most admired chamber ensembles on the international music scene. Highlights of the Quartet's 17-year history include diverse projects ranging from collaborations with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company to performances of the complete Beethoven Quartets in a five-concert series over the span of a single weekend. The members of the Quartet - violinists Daniel Phillips and Todd Phillips (brothers who share the first violin chair equally), violist Steven Tenenbom and cellist Timothy Eddy - have worked with such legendary figures as Pablo Casals, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Serkin, András Schiff, Wynton Marsalis, members of TASHI and the Beaux Arts Trio, as well as the Budapest, Végh, Galimir and Guarneri String Quartets. The Orion continues to perform in the world's leading concert halls and serves as Quartet-in-Residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and New York's Mannes College of Music.
In the summer of 2004 the Orion premiered jazz great Chick Corea's String Quartet, commissioned by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and La Jolla Music Society's SummerFest. The Quartet also gives the New York premiere of this work at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center later in the season. Additional Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center engagements include the complete cycle of the Bartók String Quartets in November 2004 and a special concert that includes Schoenberg's Quartet No. 2 in F-sharp minor with Soprano, Op. 10, featuring Susan Narucki. Touring extensively throughout North America in 2004-2005, the Quartet performs in Philadelphia; Louisville; Cleveland; Salt Lake City; Buffalo; Columbia, MD; Durham, NC; Charleston, WV; Decorah, IA; Rye, NY; El Paso, TX and Bloomington, IN. The group also participates in a joint residency with the AMICI Ensemble, performing works by Boccherini, Bartók and Brahms in Toronto.
Last season, the quartet showcased its definitive interpretations of the complete cycle of Beethoven String Quartets in an in-depth, three-residency engagement at Indiana University. Additional 2003-2004 engagements included the world premiere of Peter Lieberson's Piano Quintet and the New York premiere of Alexander Goehr's Piano Quintet, both at the opening festival of Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall with pianist Peter Serkin. Additionally, the Quartet premiered Marc Neikrug's Piano Quintet with the composer in a US tour culminating at New York's Tisch Center for the Arts at the 92nd Street Y.
In May 2000, the Quartet performed all 17 of Beethoven's string quartets in a series of free concerts at Alice Tully Hall, with additional outreach activities taking place in four boroughs of New York City. Presented in conjunction with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Beethoven 2000 supported six New York City community arts organizations in honor of their contribution to children. The Quartet has subsequently performed the complete Beethoven cycle in Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Deerfield, MA, and a multi-season cycle is currently underway in San Juan, PR. The five-concert performance cycle in Pittsburgh took place over a period of three days and earned the group stellar reviews. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "The ensemble's performances had the seemingly infinite attention to detail - from the voicing of a chord to the nuance of a phrase - that results from their long and loving exploration of Beethoven's quartets."
The members of the Quartet maintain a strong dedication to the next generation of musical artists and serve on the faculties of the Mannes College of Music, Curtis Institute of Music, Juilliard School and Queens College, where they teach private lessons, give chamber music classes and offer intensive coaching programs for young professional string quartets. They have also served as faculty members of the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshop at Carnegie Hall and the Summer Institute for Advanced Quartet Studies in Aspen. Since 1993, the Orion String Quartet has maintained a summer residency at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. This residency includes a three-year project of commissioned quartets, the first of which was written by Danish composer Per Nřrgĺrd; the second by John Harbison, and the third by Chick Correa. In 2004, the quartet premiered Marc Neikrug's piano quintet as part of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival's spring tour. Other festival appearances include Aspen, La Jolla SummerFest, Mostly Mozart, Lockenhaus Kammermusikfest, Musiktage Mondsee (Salzburg) and Spoleto (USA & Italy).
Since its inception, the Orion String Quartet has been consistently praised for the fresh perspective and individuality it brings to performances of a broad range of repertoire. The group offers diverse programs that juxtapose classic works of the standard quartet literature with masterworks by living composers; the Quartet's recordings reflect this diversity. For Sony Classical, the Orion recorded Wynton Marsalis's first classical composition for strings, At the Octoroon Balls (String Quartet No. 1). Commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the work was written for and premiered by the ensemble. Other critically acclaimed recordings include Dvorák's "American" String Quartet and Piano Quintet with Peter Serkin and Mendelssohn's Octet with the Guarneri String Quartet, both on Arabesque.
Heard frequently on National Public Radio's Performance Today and WNYC Live, the Orion String Quartet has also appeared on A&E's Breakfast with the Arts, PBS's Live from Lincoln Center, and three times on ABC-TV's Good Morning America.
The Orion String Quartet gained immediate attention in the classical music world when its founding members, each with distinguished solo and chamber music careers, officially formed the ensemble in 1987. The Quartet chose its name from the Orion constellation as a metaphor for the unique personality each musician brings to the group in its collective pursuit of the highest musical ideals.