John Christian Orfe is a winner of a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, a Tanglewood Fellowship, the William Schuman and Boudleaux Bryant Prizes from BMI, ten Standard Awards and the Morton Gould Award from ASCAP, and first prizes in competitions held by the Music Teachers National Association, the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, the National Federation for Advancement in the Arts, the National Association of Composers USA, and New Music Delaware. He participated in the 2004 Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute and Reading Sessions. He is a winner of a 2008 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was awarded the DMA by the Yale School of Music in February 2009.
Dr. Orfe has fulfilled commissions for Duo Montagnard, Dez Cordas, Alarm Will Sound, the NOVUS Trombone Quartet, the Two Rivers Chorale, the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, Ludovico, the Music Institute of Chicago, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Lila Muni Gamelan Ensemble. His works have been performed in Thailand, Canada, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Central and South America, and throughout the US; his percussion trio Dragon has received performances by over fifty different ensembles. His music has been performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Dinosaur Annex, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble.
At present, The Northwestern College Choir (MN) is singing Orfe’s O Crux in Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. The Bradley Chorale (IL) is singing Orfe’s Crown of the Righteous in Denmark. The New York Times hailed his Cyclone for two violas as “the most striking and momentous work on the program” of a Carnegie Hall concert in March 2007. Oyster, commissioned by Ohio University’s School of Music and School of Dance, was premiered in June 2008 and performed at the North Carolina School of the Arts in January 2009. Chamber Symphony, commissioned by Alarm Will Sound and Ludovico, was performed by AWS in 2008 to critical acclaim in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia; AWS performs it at the Barbican in June 2010. Dowland Remix, after John Dowland’s “Flow my Tears,” received glowing mention in the New York Times, Die Welt, and the Hamburger Abendblatt, and was encored by audiences in Hamburg, Germany.
As a pianist, he has premiered over fifty solo and chamber works and performed in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., Disney Hall in Los Angeles, Mandel Hall in Minneapolis, the World Financial Center in New York, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Hertz Hall in Berkeley, and at universities on the East Coast and the Midwest. The New York Times praised Orfe’s “virtuosic ardor” in performances of György Ligeti’s Piano Etudes and Concerto. His solo piano transcription of John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine was hailed as “a knockout” by the Boston Globe and “breathtaking” by the San Francisco Chronicle, which also praised his “hypervirtuosic” performances of Nancarrow. Dr. Orfe has served as Artist-in-Residence at the Julia and David White Artists’ Colony in Costa Rica and at the Prairie Center of the Arts in central IL. He has taught at Dickinson College and Yale University, and now serves as Temporary Assistant Professor of Music at Bradley University in Peoria, IL.
John Orfe appears in the following:
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Oyster was commissioned by the School of Music and School of Dance at Ohio University with funds from Arts for Ohio. It received its premiere in June, 2008; John Climer conducted the OU New Music Ensemble, and Ruben Graciani choreographed the dancers. When discussing dramatic scenarios with John and Ruben, their suggestions were optimistic in nature. One idea came from an NPR segment in which someone suggested that happiness is perhaps most fully appreciated in the context of remembered bitterness. This notion led me to consider the creation of pearls—how a speck of dirt, followed by layers upon layers of mucus, eventually results in something of great beauty and value. In the piece, a series of variants (not precisely variations) have at their thematic center a piano solo—the kernel/speck/bitter pill that the other variants surround in successively optimistic layers. The title is a salute to the crusty crustacean that accomplishes the task.