Orpheus Chamber Orchestra reunites with Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say on Saturday, December 3 at 7:00 p.m. in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, following a highly successful collaborative New York and European tour in 2015.
Say is featured in his own Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 4, “Silk Road“, inspired by the folk music found along the ancient trade route from China to Europe. He describes the composition as “a musical journey along a road, beginning in Tibet, leading into Hindu dances, with the third part dealing with music from Iraq. Then, the finale consists of folk tunes and songs from my homeland of Turkey.” Say also performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, which includes the slow movement popularized by the 1967 Swedish film Elvira Madigan.
The concert also includes Rossini’s Overture to his comedic opera La Scala di Seta (The Silk Ladder), and Haydn’s Symphony No. 83, “The Hen“, nicknamed for its clucking grace notes and honking oboe solo.
The program premieres on Thursday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Greenvale, New York, and repeats on Sunday, December 4 at 3:00 p.m. at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College in Purchase, New York.
A standard-bearer of innovation and artistic excellence, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is one of the world’s foremost chamber orchestras. It was founded in 1972 by a group of like-minded young musicians determined to combine the intimacy and warmth of a chamber ensemble with the richness of an orchestra. With 71 albums, including the Grammy Award-winning Shadow Dances: Stravinsky Miniatures, and 43 commissioned and premiered original works, Orpheus rotates musical leadership roles and strives to perform diverse repertoire through collaboration and open dialogue. Performing without a conductor, Orpheus presents an annual series at Carnegie Hall and tours extensively to major national and international venues.
In addition to pianist Fazil Say, the 2016-17 Orpheus season at Carnegie Hall features three other soloists who have developed strong musical relationships with Orpheus – pianist Christian Zacharias (Thursday, October 27 at 8:00 p.m.), violinist Vadim Gluzman (Saturday, February 4 at 7:00 p.m.), and cellist Alisa Weilerstein (Saturday, March 18 at 7:00 p.m.). The season also includes cutting-edge new works by American composers Jessie Montgomery and Michael Hersch, and thrilling symphonies by Haydn, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Bizet.
Orpheus has trademarked its signature mode of operation, the Orpheus Process, an original method that places democracy at the center of artistic execution. It has been the focus of studies at Harvard University and of leadership seminars at IBM, Morgan Stanley, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, among others. Two unique education and engagement programs, Access Orpheus and Orpheus Institute, aim to bring this approach to students of all ages.
Access Orpheus shares the orchestra’s collaborative music-making process with public school students from all five boroughs in New York City. Due to declining resources for arts education, many public schools do not have access to full-time arts teachers to provide music instruction and exposure to art and culture. Access Orpheus helps to bridge this gap with in-class visits, attendance at working rehearsals, and free tickets for performances at Carnegie Hall.
Orpheus Institute brings the Orpheus Process and the orchestra’s musicians to select colleges, universities, conservatories, and businesses to work directly with leaders of tomorrow. Corporate employees and students in all fields of study learn from Orpheus’ creative process and in areas of collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, and shared leadership. In the coming seasons, Orpheus will continue to share its leadership methods and performance practices as the ensemble provides audiences with the highest level of musicianship and programming.
With his extraordinary pianistic talents, Fazil Say has been touching audiences and critics alike for more than twenty-five years, through direct, open, and exciting performances that go straight to the heart.
Fazil Say had his first piano lessons from Mithat Fenmen, who had studied with Alfred Cortot in Paris. Perhaps sensing just how talented his pupil was, Fenmen asked the boy to improvise every day on themes to do with his daily life before going on to complete his essential piano exercises and studies. This contact with free creative processes and forms is seen as the source of the immense improvisatory talent and the aesthetic outlook that make Fazil Say the pianist and composer he is today. He has been commissioned to write music for, among others, the Salzburg Festival, the WDR, the Dortmund Konzerthaus and the Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern festivals. His work includes compositions for solo keyboard and chamber music, as well as solo concertos and large-scale orchestral works.
From 1987 onwards, Fazil Say fine-tuned his skills as a classical pianist with David Levine, first at the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf and later in Berlin. This formed the aesthetic basis for his Mozart and Schubert interpretations, in particular. His outstanding technique very quickly enabled him to master the so-called warhorses of the repertoire with masterful ease. It is precisely this blend of refinement (in Bach, Haydn, and Mozart) and virtuoso brilliance in the works of Liszt, Mussorgsky and Beethoven that gained him victory at the Young Concert Artists international competition in New York in 1994. Since then he has played with all of the renowned American and European orchestras and numerous leading conductors, building up a multifaceted repertoire ranging from Bach, through the Viennese Classics (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven) and the Romantics, right up to contemporary music, including his own piano compositions.
Guest appearances have taken Fazil Say to countless countries on all five continents. He also performs chamber music regularly, and for many years he was part of a duo with violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Other notable collaborators include Maxim Vengerov, the Borusan Quartet of Istanbul and the cellist Nicolas Altstaedt.
From 2005 to 2010, he was artist in residence at the Dortmund Konzerthaus, and during the 2010-11 season, he held the same position at the Berlin Konzerthaus. Say was also a focal point of the program of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in the summer of 2011 with further residencies and Fazil Say festivals in Paris, Tokyo, Meran, Hamburg, and Istanbul. During the 2012-13 season, Fazil Say was the artist in residence at the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt am Main and at the Rheingau Musik Festival 2013, where he was honored with the Rheingau Musik Preis. In April 2015, Fazil Say gave a successful concert with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, followed by a tour with concerts all over Europe. In 2014, he was the artist in residence at the Bodenseefestival, where he played fourteen concerts. During their 2015-16 season, the Alte Oper Frankfurt invited him to be their artist in residence.
His recordings of works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Gershwin and Stravinsky have been highly praised by critics and won several prizes, including three ECHO Klassik Awards. In 2014, his recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Beethoven’s Sonatas Op. 111 and Op. 27, No.2 “Moonlight” was released, as well as the recording ‘Say plays Say‘, featuring his compositions for piano.
ROSSINI Overture to La Scala di Seta (The Silk Ladder)
MOZART Concerto for Piano No. 21, K.467
FAZIL SAY Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 4 “Silk Road”
HAYDN Symphony No. 83, “La Poule” (The Hen)