Daniel Phillips, violin; Todd Phillips, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Timothy Eddy, cello
One of the foremost chamber music ensembles in the classical music scene, the Orion String Quartet will conclude its illustrious 36-year run with a Farewell Performance in April 2024 with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) at Alice Tully Hall. The Orion has performed virtually the entire catalog of string quartet literature as a part of CMS, with whom they have been season artists since 1997.
Established in 1987, the Orion took its name from the eponymous constellation as a metaphor for the personality each musician brings to the group in its collective pursuit of the highest musical ideals. Violinist brothers Daniel Phillips and Todd Phillips, violist Steven Tenenbom, and cellist Timothy Eddy have been lauded for their “confidence, precision, fluidity…nuance and crisp ornamentation” (The Los Angeles Times) in classical masterworks and key works of the 20th and 21st century. The Orion has contributed to the expansion of the repertoire with over twenty commissions, having premiered works by Chick Corea, David Del Tredici, Brett Dean, Thierry Lancino, Alexander Goehr, Aaron Jay Kernis, Leon Kirchner, Marc Neikrug, Lowell Liebermann, John Harbison, Peter Lieberson, and Wynton Marsalis.
The quartet has worked with such distinguished musicians as Pablo Casals, Sir András Schiff, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, members of the ensemble TASHI, and the Beaux Arts Trio, as well as the Budapest, Végh, Galimir, and Guarneri String Quartets.
The Orion has collaborated on a host of projects designed to bring chamber music to new audiences, such as their venture with choreographer Bill T. Jones and the Arnie Zane Dance Company, broadcast live from WQXR’s The Greene Space; and CMS at Lincoln Center’s “Beethoven 2000,” a free-to-the-public presentation of Beethoven’s sixteen string quartets supporting several educational nonprofits. The New York Times’ Anthony Tommasini wrote of the event, “They were of all ages, races and dress codes…and when the final quartet ended, the players were greeted with a standing, whooping ovation.”
The Orion reprised the full Beethoven cycle in celebration of their 30th anniversary at Mannes School of Music, where they held the position of Quartet-in-Residence for 27 years.
The quartet has recorded Beethoven’s string quartets for KOCH International Classics, about which Gramophone said, “When I listen to these recordings…I am utterly lost to the music. What more can one ask for in a performance?” Other albums include the works of Peter Lierberson, featuring the premiere of the composer’s Piano Quintet with Peter Serkin; Leon Kirchner’s complete string quartets; Dvorák’s “American” String Quartet and Piano Quintet (Peter Serkin); and Mendelssohn’s Octet, performed alongside the Guarneri Quartet. They recorded Wynton Marsalis’s first classical composition for strings, At the Octoroon Balls, which they recently performed live at Lincoln Center and subsequently at Wolf Trap.
The Orion has performed on NPR’s Performance Today, PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center, A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts, and on ABC television’s Good Morning America. The Washington Post has aptly stated, “The Orion’s interpretive choices [seem] to issue from a single mind and, more important, from a single heart.”