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Orion String Quartet
A Yale University faculty member since 1987, clarinetist David Shifrin is artistic director of Yale’s Chamber Music Society, the Yale in New York concert series, and the Phoenix Chamber Music Festival. He has performed with CMS since 1982 and served as its artistic director from 1992 to 2004, inaugurating CMS’s Bowers Program and the annual Brandenburg Concerto concerts. He was the artistic director of Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon, from 1981 to 2020. Winner of both the Avery Fisher Career Grant (1987) and the Avery Fisher Prize (2000), he is also the recipient of a Solo Recitalist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A top prize-winner in the Munich and Geneva competitions, he has held principal clarinet positions in numerous orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra and the American Symphony under Leopold Stokowski. His recordings have received three Grammy nominations and his performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra was named Record of the Year by Stereo Review. His most recent recordings are the Beethoven, Bruch, and Brahms clarinet trios with David Finckel and Wu Han on the ArtistLed label, a recording for Delos of works by Carl Nielsen, and an album of Poulenc’s music for clarinet. His 2012 Delos recording of Ellen Taaffe Zwillch’s Clarinet Concerto was chosen as culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant by the National Recording Preservation Act by the Library of Congress in 2023. Shifrin performs on clarinets made by Morrie Backun in Vancouver, Canada, and Légère synthetic reeds.
The Orion String Quartet is one of the leading chamber music ensembles on the classical music scene today. Admired for diverse programming that juxtaposes masterworks of quartet literature with key works of the 20th and 21st centuries, the Orion provides singularly rich dimension to its music-making. The members of the Orion String Quartet—violinists Daniel Phillips and Todd Phillips, brothers who share the first violin chair equally, violist Steven Tenenbom, and cellist Timothy Eddy—have worked closely with illustrious musicians, such as Pablo Casals, Sir András Schiff, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, Peter Serkin, members of the ensemble TASHI, and the Beaux Arts Trio, as well as the Budapest, Végh, Galimir, and Guarneri String Quartets. The Orion String Quartet are season artists of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
In the 2021–22 season, they appeared in CMS’s Winter Festival, performing selections from Wynton Marsalis’s At the Octoroon Balls and Milhaud’s La Création du Monde, and repeated this program at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in Virginia in the spring. The Quartet’s concerts last season also included appearances with the Phoenix Chamber Music Society and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society with music by Haydn, Bach, Bartók and Beethoven, and with Linton Chamber Music in Cincinnati, in collaboration with Anthony McGill for Reger’s Clarinet Quintet and quartet works by Beethoven.
In the 2022–23 season, the Quartet performed Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 in a winter concert for CMS, and appears again with both the Phoenix Chamber Music Society and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, with works by Mozart, Schubert, and Brahms.
During the Quartet’s 30th-anniversary season in 2017–18, the group celebrated at principal chamber music series throughout North America. They played the complete Beethoven string quartets in a series of six concerts at Mannes School of Music, where they held the position of Quartet-in-Residence for 27 years; at CMS they performed in an all-Haydn program and presented a contemporary music concert of works written for the group, including the world premiere of Sebastian Currier’s Etudes and Lullabies commissioned by CMS, David Dzubay’s “Astral” Quartet No. 1 for Strings, and Brett Dean’s Quartet No. 2 for Strings and Soprano, And once I played Ophelia. New music specialist Tony Arnold joined the Orion as vocal soloist for this performance.
The Orion String Quartet has contributed to the development and expansion of the string quartet repertoire through commissions from composers Chick Corea, David Del Tredici, Alexander Goehr, Thierry Lancino, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Marc Neikrug, Lowell Liebermann, Peter Lieberson, and Wynton Marsalis. As a hallmark of its 25th anniversary, the group collaborated with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in a two-week project that featured music by Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Ravel, and Beethoven. WQXR’s The Greene Space produced a live broadcast of the collaboration, including the performance and a discussion among members of the Orion Quartet and choreographer Bill T. Jones.
Heard frequently on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, the Orion has also appeared on PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center, A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts, and ABC’s Good Morning America.
The Orion String Quartet was established in 1987 and takes its name from the Orion constellation as a metaphor for the personality each musician brings to the group in its collective pursuit of the highest musical ideals.
Recorded live in the Kaplan Penthouse on April 18, 2013.