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The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will perform at the Williams Center for the Arts 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 4, in the first of two Lafayette College performances this year. Now in its 29th season — appearing at Lafayette for the past 13 — the first half of the “conductorless” ensemble’s concert will feature clarinet player Charles Neidich and bassoon player Frank Morelli.

Public tickets to the concert cost $25. To inquire about ticket availability, contact the Williams Center box office at 610-330-5009. The public is welcome to attend an open rehearsal by Orpheus free of charge at 6 p.m. the day of the concert.

The program opens with Igor Stravinsky’s Apollon Musagète (“Apollo, Leader of the Muses”) for String Orchestra, followed by Richard Strauss’ Duet-Concertino for Clarinet and Bassoon with String Orchestra and Harp. After intermission, Orpheus will perform Midday Thoughts, a previously unknown reconstruction of a Copland score prepared by David del Tredici. To mark the 100th anniversary of Copland’s birth, Orpheus will perform this piece at the Library of Congress on his November 14 birth date. The closing selection of the concert will be Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93.

Neidich has been a member of Orpheus since 1980, and was the winner of the 1985 Naumburg competition, the first major competition for clarinet in the United States. A graduate of Yale University with a B.A. cum laude in anthropology, Neidich studied piano with his mother and clarinet with his father, continuing his clarinet studies with Leon Russianoff. In 1975, he was the first American to receive a Fulbright grant to study in the former Soviet Union, earning a postgraduate diploma from the Moscow Conservatory in 1978. He has released several recordings, including Elliott Carter’s Gra and Con Leggerezza Pensosa to celebrate Carter’s 85th birthday.

Morelli studied with Stephen Maxym at the Manhattan and Juilliard schools; he was the first bassoonist awarded a doctorate by Juilliard. Since his Carnegie Hall concerto debut in 1973, he has made over one hundred recordings and given concerts around the world. His recording of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Winds with Orpheus was named Recording of Special Merit by Stereo Review Magazine. In addition to work with Orpheus, he has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 92nd Street Y and Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is principal bassoonist of the New York City Opera Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the American Composers Orchestra. He teaches at Juilliard, Yale, and Manhattan.

Recognized as one of the world’s foremost chamber orchestras, Orpheus was founded by cellist Julian Fifer in New York City in 1972, making its Lincoln Center debut just two years later. The group is now heard regularly in Carnegie Hall, presenting a five-concert series there each year, 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.

Orpheus won three 1999 Grammy Awards for its jazz-inspired Ravel and Gershwin collaboration with Herbie Hancock. 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 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.

Orpheus has made over 50 recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, including several Haydn symphonies and Mozart serenades, the complete Mozart wind concertos with Orpheus members as soloists, romantic works by Grieg, Tchaikovsky, and others, and a number of 20th-century classics by Bartók, Prokofiev, Copland, and Stravinsky.

The 2000-2001 Performance Series at Lafayette College is sponsored, in part, by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts.

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