A treat awaits Chesapeake Music’s 2023 Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival goers on June 9, 10 and 11 at the Ebenezer Theater. The internationally-acclaimed Orion String Quartet will perform Haydn’s energetic, at times mysterious C-major Quartet, “The Bird,” Beethoven’s brilliant Quartet in B-flat Major and Bartók’s sixth String Quartet, as well as Brahms’ second String Sextet, with the Festival Artistic Directors violinist Catherine Cho and cellist Marcy Rosen. Sadly, this will be one of the last opportunities for Eastern Shore chamber music patrons to see the Orion perform. The Quartet will retire at the end of the 2023-24 season, concluding an illustrious 36-year partnership. The members intend to continue their individual teaching and performing careers.
“Having had the privilege for so many years to explore and perform some of the greatest music ever written, we have come to feel that many of these works have actually become a part of our physical and spiritual being,” the Quartet said. “We have chosen to leave our audiences with some final presentations that still fully articulate what we have experienced in this wondrous journey. We look forward to continuing to reach out to inspire people with our recordings, individual performances, and our love of teaching.”
The members of the Quartet, violinists Daniel and Todd Phillips, violist Steven Tenenbom and cellist Timothy Eddy, are Artist Members 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 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 2023 is thrilled to have the Orion String Quartet join us to celebrate our 38th Anniversary year. Sponsors of this year’s Festival include Talbot Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, Paul and Joanne Prager, and our donors. Please go to chesapeakemusic.org to order tickets for the in-theater or video-recorded performances.