The Orion String Quartet To Retire After 2023-24 Season

December 14, 2022, 9:06 AM · The Orion String Quartet will retire at the end of the 2023-24 season, concluding a 36-year partnership. Violinists Daniel Phillips and Todd Phillips, brothers who share the first violin chair equally, and cellist Timothy Eddy formed the quartet in 1987, with the original violist Catherine Metz. Steven Tenenbom became the quartet’s violist in 1993, and their lineup has remained unchanged for nearly 30 years.

Orion String Quartet
The Orion String Quartet.

The quartet's final concert will take place at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in Spring 2024. The members of the quartet plan to continue pursuing their individual careers as soloists and chamber musicians, and to continue teaching at the various schools with which they are affiliated, including The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College, Queens College, Bard College, Rutgers University and Cleveland Institute of Music.

The Orion String Quartet 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.

Over the course of their career, the quartet's programming has included not only the masterworks of quartet literature that initially brought them together, but also key works of the 20th and 21st centuries, and new commissions. Its 20 commissions include works they have premiered by Chick Corea, Brett Dean, Alexander Goehr, Aaron Jay Kernis, Leon Kirchner, Wynton Marsalis, Marc Neikrug, John Harbison, and Peter Lieberson. (A complete list of their commissioned work is available here.)

Over the decades, the members of the quartet collaborated with artists including Peter Serkin, Pablo Casals, Sir András Schiff, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, Leon Fleisher, members of the ensemble TASHI, the Beaux Arts Trio, and the Budapest, Végh, Galimir, and Guarneri String Quartets. The Orion String Quartet are Season Artists of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Throughout their career, the Orion Quartet have developed special projects and collaborations that aimed to bring chamber music to new audiences. As part of their 25th anniversary in 2013, the group collaborated with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in a two-week project that featured music by Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Ravel, and Beethoven.

Another major project was Beethoven 2000, a series of six free concerts presented by CMS as a "millennium gift to the city of New York," in which the quartet performed (without a fee) all 16 Beethoven quartets as a cycle for the first time. The enormous response resulted in lines around the block of those hoping to procure last-minute (returned) tickets. The concerts supported six nonprofit children’s educational organizations in New York, including the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Harlem School of the Arts, and the Songs of Love Foundation.

BELOW: The Orion String Quartet plays Beethoven String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat Major, Op. 127.

The Orion Quartet's recordings include the complete Beethoven String Quartets (Early, Middle and Late); The Complete String Quartets by Leon Kirchner; Wynton Marsalis: At the Octoroon Balls, String Quartet No. 1, the composer's first classical composition for strings; Dvorák's "American" String Quartet and Piano Quintet with Peter Serkin; and Mendelssohn's Octet with the Guarneri String Quartet.

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