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Full Biography 2015-2016

Daniel Phillips (Violin); Todd Phillips (Violin);
Steven Tenenbom (Viola); Timothy Eddy (Cello)

The Orion String Quartet is one of the most sought-after ensembles in the United States. Since its inception, the Quartet has been consistently praised for the extraordinary musical integrity it brings to performances, offering diverse programs that juxtapose classic works of the standard quartet literature with masterworks by twentieth and twenty-first century composers. The Quartet remains on the cutting edge of programming with wide-ranging commissions from composers Chick Corea, Brett Dean, David Del Tredici, Alexander Goehr, Thierry Lancino, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Marc Neikrug, Lowell Liebermann, Peter Lieberson and Wynton Marsalis, and has enjoyed a celebrated creative partnership with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. 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 such legendary figures as Pablo Casals, András Schiff, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, Peter Serkin, members of TASHI and the Beaux Arts Trio, as well as the Budapest, Végh, Galimir and Guarneri String Quartets. The Orion serves as Artist Members of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Quartet-in-Residence at New York's Mannes College of Music, where the ensemble gives a four-concert series annually. “A noisy standing ovation is nothing rare, and these players certainly deserved theirs after the stellar performance. But silence can be an even better indicator of a powerful performance. After the Adagio in the Mendelssohn, the musicians managed to seduce the rustling, coughing, whispering audience into utterly silent awe.” The New York Times

Opening their 2015-2016 season in August 2015, the Orion String Quartet joins the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival performing the Dohnanyyi Piano Quintet with Haochen Zheng, Beethoven’s Quartet in E-flat, Dvorak’s Quartet in G Major, and the world premiere of Neikrug Guitar Quintet with Lukasz Kuropaczewski.  In winter 2016, the ensemble appears with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society featuring the Mozart Oboe Quartet in F with Richard Woodhams, and with the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society joined by Catherine Cho, viola and Marcy Rosen, cello on a program including Beethoven, Kirchner, and Brahms.  The Quartet visits the University of Southern California as teaching artists in February 2016 and perform Haydn’s Seven Last Words during their residency.  As frequent guests with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Orion String Quartet joins CMS on Tour at the University of Georgia - Athens in November 2015, where the program includes works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.  They continue with the Chamber Music Society in February 2016 with an all-Beethoven program in Alice Tully Hall, and finally, the Kirchner Cycle in May of 2016.  

In their previous season, The Quartet appeared at the Ravinia Festival, Toronto Summer Music Festival and Music Mountain. They also performed at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival where they have distinguished themselves for performing commissions and unusual works by major composers; during their residency in 2014 the quartet performed the US premiere of Brett Dean’s String Quartet No. 2 “And once I played Ophelia” with soprano Tony Arnold. The ensemble celebrated its 25th anniversary in the 2012-2013 season with summer engagements at London’s Kings Place, Chamber Music Northwest, Music@Menlo, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival where they presented the world premiere of Thierry Lancino’s Falling Angels.  Multiple concerts for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center included Brett Dean’s Epitaphs (with the composer), the New York premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’s Perpetual Chaconne, and a complete program of works by Benjamin Britten at Chicago’s Harris Theater and New York’s Alice Tully Hall.  The ensemble collaborated with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company at New York City’s Joyce Theater for a special two-week project featuring musical excerpts and arrangements of works by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Ravel and Schubert of which the New Yorker declared, “the sound they made in the Joyce was tremendous.” The New York Times described the musical works as “given lustrous form by the Orion String Quartet,” and called the evening “a fine match of high-grade music and dance.” WQXR’s The Greene Space presented a live-broadcast of the collaboration with performance and conversation by the Quartet and Bill T. Jones.  The Orion also embarked on its first-ever tour of Japan.

The ensemble has achieved an enviable reputation for its interpretations of Beethoven's string quartets, and has recorded the complete cycle for KOCH International Classics. All three volumes have received high praise from critics. The Strad called the Orion's performances “powerfully persuasive,” BBC Music Magazine hailed the first volume as “richly rewarding,” and Strings called the late quartets “thoughtful, deeply felt, meticulously executed performances." Outside of the recording studio, the ensemble first performed the entire cycle for the innovative Beethoven 2000 series of free concerts at Alice Tully Hall in May 2000 presented in conjunction with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The Quartet has subsequently performed the complete Beethoven cycle in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Deerfield (MA), Indiana University in Bloomington, Santa Fe, and San Juan, PR. A critically lauded, five-concert performance cycle in Pittsburgh took place over a period of only three days. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said, "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 Quartet's recordings reflect its musical diversity. Its 2010 Bridge Records release of various Peter Lieberson works featured the premiere recording of the composer’s Piano Quintet with Peter Serkin. In addition to the complete Beethoven quartets, the Orion released Leon Kirchner's complete string quartets on Albany Records, of which Gramophone Magazine acclaimed, “The Orion Quartet plays each score as if inhabiting its unique expressive world. The playing is at turns fierce, exquisite and detailed. It would be difficult to imagine Kirchner’s music treated with more loving attention to the introspective and arching aspects of this composer’s compelling art.” The Kirchner recording was also named a 2008 Top 10 Classical Recording by The Chicago Tribune and highlighted in The New York Times’ Holiday Gift Guide. Past recordings include Wynton Marsalis's first classical composition for strings, At the Octoroon Balls (String Quartet No. 1) for Sony Classical, Dvorák's "American" String Quartet and Piano Quintet with Peter Serkin and Mendelssohn's Octet with the Guarneri String Quartet, both on Arabesque.

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, The Juilliard School, Queens College, Rutgers University, Manhattan School of Music, and the Bard College Conservatory of Music 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 Quartet has maintained a summer residency at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and premiered Marc Neikrug's piano quintet as part of the Festival which was subsequently recorded with Corea's The Adventures of Hippocrates and John Harbison's Quartet No. 4 for KOCH in 2006.

Heard 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 three times on ABC-TV's Good Morning America. Additionally, the Quartet was photographed with actress Drew Barrymore by Annie Leibovitz for the April 2005 issue of Vogue.

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.  



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