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Accompanied by saxophonist Branford Marsalis as guest soloist, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will present its third performance for Lafayette this season at 8 p.m. Monday, March 6 in the Williams Center for the Arts auditorium. The evening will celebrate the rich legacy of orchestral suites from Paris of the 1920s, where Poulenc, Ibert, Stravinsky, and Satie embraced the fresh spirit of American jazz.

Concert tickets cost $28. To inquire about their availability, contact the Williams Center box office at 610-330-5009.

The public is welcome to attend an open rehearsal by Orpheus and Marsalis free of charge at 5:30 p.m. the day of the concert.

The concert will begin with Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra by Igor Stravinsky, Concertino da Camera for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra by Jacques Ibert, and La Création du Monde (“The Creation of the World”) by Darius Milhaud. Marsalis will be the soloist for the second selection and join Orpheus as orchestra member for the prominent soprano saxophone part in the Milhaud suite. After intermission, the evening will feature Scaramouche by Milhaud, Pavane pour une Infante Défunte (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) by Maurice Ravel, Gymnopédie No. 1 (orchestrated by Debussy) by Erik Satic, Pie Jesu from the Requiem, Op. 48 by Gabriel Fauré, and Le Boeuf sur le Toit (“The Ox on the Roof”) by Milhaud. Marsalis will perform on all but the last piece.

Recognized as one of the world’s foremost chamber orchestras, Orpheus was founded in New York City in 1972, making its Lincoln Center debut just two years later. The group is now heard regularly in Carnegie Hall, and tours extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad. It has appeared in more than 300 cities in 39 countries and in almost every state in the nation. In 1998, Orpheus was honored with the Ensemble of the Year award from Musical America, as well as a Grammy nomination for its recording of Mozart’s Piano Concertos nos. 9 and 25 with Richard Goode. The group has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, RCA Victor Red Seal, Verve, and Nonesuch.

The ensemble is completely self-governing, holding rehearsals and performances sans conductor. The members are responsible for repertory, programming, rehearsal techniques, and the rotation of seating arrangements, which is done to give each player the opportunity to be a section leader. Most importantly, they make the interpretive decisions that are usually the responsibility of the conductor.

For the past 12 seasons, Orpheus has appeared at the Williams Center for the Arts, presenting a wide variety of programs from its international touring and recording schedule. Audiences in Easton are often the first to hear programs later performed around the world, or works that are immediately recorded for subsequent release.

Marsalis is the eldest of the six sons of New Orleans jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis. He attended Southern University in Baton Rouge and Boston’s Berklee College of Music before beginning his career by performing with such noted jazz artists as his brother Wynton, Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie. His varied career has since included a four-year stint in Sting’s band, three highly praised movie roles (Bring on the Night, Throw Momma From the Train, and Spike Lee’s School Daze), recording the soundtracks for Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, and School Daze, a period as music director of NBC’s “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, and hosting the syndicated National Public Radio program “JazzSet.”

Marsalis serves as creative consultant to Columbia Jazz, helping to shape the direction of the label’s Jazz Department through his own recordings and fostering the talents of other jazz artists. He also has recorded one classical release and, with his ensemble Buckshot LeFonque, two pop discs that blend rock, R&B, hip-hop, and blues with a jazz sensibility. His most recent Grammy nomination in the “Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group” category is for his 1999 album, Requiem. Marsalis has been associated with the Michigan State University School of Music, first as the Catherine Herrick Cobb Distinguished Lecturer during 1996-1977, and since then as an adviser to the Music Department in revising the curriculum to include a broad spectrum of classical, jazz, and popular styles. In December 1997, he was awarded an honorary degree by the university.

The 1999-2000 Performance Series at Lafayette College is sponsored, in part, by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts.

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