A treat awaits our 2021 Festival goers! The renowned Orion String Quartet will perform Beethoven’s “Razumovsky” String Quartet in C Major on June 10. And on June 12, the Quartet will join pianist Robert McDonald, to delight the audience with Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor.
The members of the Quartet, violinists Daniel and Todd Phillips, violist Steven Tenenbom and cellist Timothy Eddy are season artists of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. They are especially drawn to Beethoven and recorded his complete string quartets over a five-year period. During 2017-18, their 30th anniversary season as a quartet, they performed all these quartets over six evenings at the Mannes School of Music where they held the position of quartet-in-residence for 27 years.
Daniels Phillips notes, “We are completely exhausted when we play Beethoven. His music is very demanding, physically, emotionally and spiritually. At the same time, he uses very simple notes, which everyone can understand to the greatest effect on the listener. It is brilliant. Beethoven famously said to musicians who complained how difficult his music was, that he gave them ‘music from the Gods.’ This is how we feel!”
Admired for their diverse programming that juxtaposes masterworks of the quartet literature with key works of the 20th and 21st centuries, the Orion is on the cutting edge of programming through commissions from composers ranging from Chick Corea to Wynton Marsalis and a creative partnership with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. “The collaboration with Marsalis was fortuitous,” Phillips said. “Given a commission by the Chamber Music Society, Marsalis chose to write a string quartet. We were the lucky recipients. He wove brilliantly the American music he grew up with in New Orleans into classical form. Very challenging for us, but it turned out to be a genius piece of music.”
The Orion Quartet is named after the Constellation Orion as a metaphor for the personality each musician brings to the group in its collective pursuit of the highest musical ideals.
“We each want to play the way we want to play,” Phillips muses. “To achieve a great sound requires good chemistry, and good ensemble skills; one must learn how to listen, know how much to lead and how much to follow. If you always follow, you will be late. If you always lead, the others don’t have a chance to make their voice heard. It is an ongoing interesting challenge to get the balance right. Ultimately, it is a very democratic process,” he concludes.
Festival 2021 is thrilled to have the Orion String Quartet join us as a group for the first time to celebrate our 36th Anniversary year. Sponsors of this year’s Festival include Talbot Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, Paul and Joanne Prager, and our donors. Chesapeake Music now has additional tickets for sale for all six in-theater Festival concerts. Please go to chesapeakemusic.org to order tickets for the in-theater or live-streamed performances or for a complete program listing.