Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is not your typical orchestra. This group has gained notoriety for a huge part of the traditional orchestra that they lack: the conductor. This appears to be a disastrous way to build a professional music group. Without a conductor’s direction, wouldn’t technical and interpretative problems arise? Orpheus’s success answers no to this question.
Founder and cellist Julian Fifer began this group with different ideas. He liked the clarity and the flexibility of a chamber group, which traditionally acts without a conductor, and wanted to embrace this spirit in a larger setting. Fifer explains that their structure creates “a particular blend of freedom and responsibility.” Without a conductor to coordinate musicians, it is the responsibility of each player to know all the music, including each instrument’s part. But, each player has more freedom to contribute to interpretation.
The idea of a conductor-less orchestra has also received attention from business analysts. Here at Wake Forest, students in Holly Brower’s business classes get the chance to learn about Orpheus through a study done by a Harvard business professor Elizabeth Ross Canter. Canter is a huge proponent of the Orpheus structure for the business setting because it is a notable example of flexible leadership, with less hierarchy and more opportunity for people to play many different roles.
Canter boils down Orpheus’s leadership structure into 8 principles, universal to every business situation:
1. Put power in the hands of the people doing the work.
2. Encourage individual responsibility for product and quality.
3. Create clarity of roles
4. Foster horizontal teamwork
5. Share and rotate leadership
6. Learn to listen, learn to talk.
7. Seek consensus (and build creative systems that favor consensus)
8. Dedicate passionately to your mission.
In a business mind, this leadership structure shows fundamental positive outcomes: low turnover, high employee loyalty, customer satisfaction, and thus, a healthier bottom line. For Orpheus, the free flow of leadership positions creates a collaborative environment and also carries an indispensible element for musical groups: an individual level of emotional involvement in the organization’s success.
Interested in seeing the Orpheus Process in action? As part of their performance with the Secrest Series on February 26, they will be hosting an open rehearsal from 6-6:30 PM in Wait Chapel.
Don’t forget to stay for the pre-performance talk at 6:40 PM, given by professor of music, Peter Kairoff, and for the performance at 7:30 PM!
An African-American String Band
Thursday, September 12, 2013
7:30 PM in Wait Chapel
The Carolina Chocolate Drops prove that old-time, fiddle and banjo-based music can be a living, breathing, and ever-evolving sound. Starting with material culled from the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, they seek to freshly interpret this work–not merely re-creating it, but highlighting the central role that African-Americans played in shaping our nation’s popular music from its beginnings more than a century ago.
The Jerusalem Quartet
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
7:30 PM in Brendle Recital Hall
The Jerusalem Quartet, hailed by The Strad as “one of the young, yet great quartets of our time,” has garnered international acclaim for its rare combination of passion and precision. The quartet formed while its members were students at the Jerusalem Conservatory of Music and Dance. They quickly found a shared commitment to the music that has not only endured, but has propelled them to the highest level of performance. Their discography on Harmonia Mundi includes quartets by Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, and Dvorak. The program will include a new work composed for the quartet by Brian Elias, commissioned in part by the Secrest Artists Series.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
7:30 PM in Brendle Recital Hall
Acclaimed as “the premier men’s vocal ensemble in the United States” (Fanfare), Cantus is committed to inspiring audiences with music performed at the highest level. Rehearsing and performing without a conductor or music director, the nine members of Cantus are renowned for adventurous programming spanning many periods and genres. ”All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914″ by Peter Rothstein, with musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Rakach, was commissioned specifically for the collaboration between Cantus and Theater Latté Da. Through new arrangements of European carols and war songs for a capella voices, “All is Calm” recalls the remarkable World War I truce between the Allied Forces and German soldiers in no man’s land on Christmas, 1914. This event will be presented in cooperation with IPLACe, the Interdisciplinary Performance in the Liberal Arts Center.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
7:30 PM in Wait Chapel
The 2012-2013 season marks Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s 40th year of making internationally renowned music while reinventing the way the world thinks about musical collaboration, education and outreach, and democratic leadership. By performing without a conductor and integrating musicians into virtually every facet of the organization, Orpheus empowers its members and infuses performances with unparalleled energy. Orpheus has appeared on the Secrest Series previously in 1994 and 1998, and has also collaborated with other past Secrest performers such as Nathan Gunn and Wayne Shorter.
Their performance at Wake Forest will include an open rehearsal for students/faculty/staff and community members to observe their leaderless collaboration in action.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
7:30 PM in Brendle Recital Hall
An artist with a winning combination of superb musicianship, verve, and riveting technical brilliance, pianist Xiayin Wang conquers the hearts of audiences wherever she appears. As a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral soloist in venues including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, she has already achieved a high level of recognition for her commanding performances.
Xiayin Wang completed studies at the Shanghai Conservatory and holds Bachelor’s Master’s, and Professional Studies degrees from the Manhattan School of Music.
Next Thursday, the Venice Baroque Orchestra will take the stage in Brendle as our fourth Secrest event this season. The VBO is renowned for their accurate and artistic representation of Baroque music. In all of the excitement, I thought you may need some short and sweet reminders about what we call the Baroque Era. Your music history debrief follows….
When is the Baroque Period?
Approximately 1600-1750. It follows the Renaissance and is followed by the Classical era.
What is happening in the world during this century and a half?
Meanwhile, there is more progressive thinking about politicsin Europe. We see the Levellers advocate democracy and Hobbes write Leviathan. Many long-standing wars are settled: Henri IV in France guarantees freedom to some Protestants, while Protestant England and Catholic Spain end a years-long conflict.
In religion, conflict within the Holy Roman Empire precipitates in the this period in the Thirty Years’ War and the English Civil War
Another fun fact: this period is the beginning of America’s colonial history as many European countries, including Britain begin expanding oversees.
What does Baroque mean?
The term baroque means abnormal, bizarre, exaggerated and in bad taste. The group that named this era clearly thought of it despairingly at the time.
What are the fundamental characteristics of Baroque Music?
The most striking aspect? The focus on the dramatic.
|Michelangelo Buonarotti’s David (1501-4)|
Who are the fundamental composers of the Baroque Era?
And finally, what makes the Venice Baroque Orchestra a special representation of Baroque music?
Thursday, January 24, 2013
7:30 PM | Brendle Recital Hall
Wonder what Secrest has been doing at APAP (the Association for Performing Arts Presenters) in New York City for the past 4 days? I thought you had. Here are some picture highlights.
When I listen to William Billings, I instantly see a snapshot of an early New England: brick streets, smoke spewing out of chimneys, a crispiness in the air, women in slightly tattered gowns, and men in cloaks. This is very likely the product of several trips to Colonial Williamsburg as a child. But, nevertheless, music has an incredible capacity to provoke the imagination. Little better embodies the spirit of a culture or of an era than the music that was composed for the time. Likewise, when I first listened to Danú, my imaginations eye took me to the Emerald Isle. This time, the country side was swept with a coating of icy white, with sparkling icicles and wispy white flurries to match. I also see a celebration in a house amidst this white countryside, with candles lit, laughing constant, a fire burning, and smiles all around. In short, it is Ireland during the holidays.
This Wednesday, Danú will be here with us at Wake Forest performing their show, “A Christmas in Ireland.” These expert musicians will play tunes that are uniquely Irish. These songs may be quite different from Nat King Cole belting “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” but there is no doubt that this group’s music will bring you the quintessential feeling of Christmas–a warmth of heart that pervades any culture.
Here is a preview of what the group will perform this week:
Hope to see you at the show!
Kimberly McGrath, part of the Office of Communications and External Relations at Wake Forest published this wonderful article on the Wake Forest website today. ”Conservation liberal-arts style” talks more about how a booking for a jazz quartet became Jamazon, and highlights why interdisciplinary activity is so important to our community.
We’re getting really excited for our first concert this Thursday and we hope you are too. Did you know that this will be Wayne Shorter’s only North American appearance this year?
See you at the show!
One visit to Wake Forest’s website and will likely see this graphic:
Wake Forest, “a community of communities.” Our website illustrates to visitors the strength of our academic curriculum as well as a vital learning community bounding with recreation and co-curricular activities. We strive to “educate the whole person,” to provide each student with not only a strong liberal arts background, but also to mold each student into intelligent and perceptive life-long learners. So, where do the performing arts contribute to this community? Namely, how does the Secrest Series stimulate the campus environment? Here are 3 reasons that an appreciation and involvement in the performing arts is integral to Wake Forest’s well-rounded development.
Number One. We must be culturally literate as well as math, science, and historically literate. It is not enough to be able to regurgitate a stream of numbers or memorize historical events. We must have the ability to use the specific knowledge we have acquired to synthesize information and draw conclusions across our many difference platforms. In doing this, we show a flexibility of mind that is invaluable to innovation. Steve Jobs comments that creativity comes to someone “because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had an synthesize new things…the broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
Number Two. The performing arts help us to define our community. Recall the civilizations of the ancient world. We remember Plato and Aristotle’s contributions to philosophy and learning long after the feudal oppression of ancient Greek society has dissipated. Michelangelo’s Pietá, David, and scenes of Genesis at the Sistine Chapel, and fellow Italian Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and The Last Supper have left an imprint of life in the Italian Renaissance that outshines the huge income disparity that plagued Italy at the time. Chopin’s nocturnes sing over any remembrance of the Russian influence in Poland in the 1830s. For these ancient artists, the beauty they saw in their societies and the morals they held true were reflected in their arts and were transmitted for future generations to enjoy. The accomplishments of the artists of these civilizations outlive the imperial triumphs and political institutions they lived in and play a large part in evaluating the success of the civilization. Perhaps after our political institutions have fallen and violence diminished, the success of our civilization will also be measured based on our additions to the understanding of the human experience in our creative arts. Every student at Wake Forest has the capacity to be a part of this understanding because every student has the opportunity to participate and experience the performing arts. We can leave an imprint of our “community of communities” for future students to discover.
Number Three. Involvement in the performing arts creates better student achievement in other elements of life. The arts are a subject that requires active engagement in the learning process. The performer must have a vision for their piece, whether music, dance, or art. They have one chance to grasp the heart of the audience and change their thinking ever so slightly. In order to improve, the performer must have the self-control and discipline to commit the time and energy it will take to get better. In order to perform, one must have an aptitude to coordinate with others and learn self-confidence to have a stage presence. These skills that artists gain transfer directly into competencies necessary for the workforce. First, developing a vision fosters creativity and imagination. Furthermore, in order to improve, one not only cultivates self-discipline, but also matures in problem solving and critical thinking because problem diagnosis, analysis, and evaluation, are key to enhancing talents. Third, working with other performers heightens communication and collaboration skills that will make the performer a good team player in a job setting.
In conclusion, the performing arts will contribute to our community in three fundamental ways: First, the arts will enhance our creativity when we connect dots from our other coursework to experiences we have in the creative arts; second, just as ancient civilizations are remembered for their great artists and philosophers, we too have an opportunity to use creative pursuits to transmit our experiences and our sense of community to the next generation; lastly, the skills obtained from an involvement in the arts will boost performance in the workplace. The broader our contact, involvement, and appreciation for the creative arts is, the more vibrant our community will become.