4 commissions. 40 years of Orpheus. 60 composers.
Enter the fray.

In honor of its upcoming 40th anniversary, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will commission new works from four emerging composers, to be premiered during the 2011-2012 Season. Orpheus assembled a panel of artists and industry experts to nominate diverse talent from around the country. Like all things Orpheus, Project 440 relies on open dialogue. Here’s where you come in. We want YOU in the decision-making process. Scroll through the composer profiles and audio below. Let us know who you think Orpheus should commission and why by posting comments on the composer profiles. We will bring your ideas to the table, literally, as Orpheus goes through the selection process.

Check back here early and often, as we post video responses to your comments, news about the candidates, and information about upcoming Project 440 events. Thanks for your participation - now stop reading and start listening!

Project 440 is supported by a leadership gift from an anonymous donor, with additional major support provided by Thomas Bishop.

Project 440 is a collaboration between Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and WQXR 105.9FM.

Recently in Project 440

Polina Nazaykinskaya

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Each piece of music that I write comes from the depth of my heart, from the inner ocean of emotions and possibilities that are carried by waves of memories. Just as a sculptor frees the elusive figures from the block of marble by cutting away all that is unnecessary, I find myself carving out the musical notes with the inspiration that visits me and calls on me to compose, guiding the process of creation. Perhaps for the composer, the writing of music is a divine act, as much a meditative experience opens the gates to paradise lost and brings out the nostalgia for the infinite. This is what I felt when I was writing the violin concerto Konzerto for A.

Comments [55]

Jonathan Russell

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The two pieces here—ELEVEN and Sextet —embody many of my current musical interests. Both use minimalist and vernacular materials as starting points, but develop them into complex, dramatic narratives. While I grew up steeped in the classical tradition, I have since become fascinated with minimalism and various vernacular styles, especially heavy metal, funk, klezmer, and Balkan music. I thus aim to use basic materials that are catchy, direct, and rhythmically driving and to build them into complex, dramatic, emotionally compelling narratives in the manner of classical masters like Brahms or Beethoven.

Comments [4]

Daniel Wohl

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Scored for bass clarinet, piano, cello, percussion and electronics, the initial concept for +ou- (pronounced "plus ou moins") was to compose music that would be heard through a veil of noise. The idea came from waking up in the middle of the night with the television set turned to a nonworking channel. The screen was mostly filled with black and white static, except for a faded image of what looked like an old couple dancing. The image would come in strongly and then recede into the static

Comments [27]

David Wolff

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Meant to evoke the process by which changes in an organism’s genetic information are induced experimentally or by environmental stresses, mutagenesis is a dance based on an ever-changing cell structure. The work is, at its core, really just a fun way of changing one woodblock into three woodblocks. Also, it’s kind of kicky.

Comments [10]

Laura Andel

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

For the last few years, I have been working on compositions that focus on the different degrees of nearness between gamelan and non-gamelan instruments. In my interest to explore the intersection of tuning and idioms, I search for ways to generate common spaces for differently tuned instruments and for sound qualities not traditionally found in the same context.

Comment

Jonathan Pieslak

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I have often been fascinated and disturbed by my inability to turn away from grotesque images. Media coverage and the Internet expose us, first hand, to intensely graphic images of human suffering, and many times I question why I am so captivated by brutality, while at the same time finding it disgusting.

Comments [3]

John Orfe

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.

Comments [10]

Gabriella Smith

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

get a lot of my inspiration from the forms, structures, and energies in the natural world, and I also like math, which can describe these forms, designs, and energies so elegantly and concisely. This piece has three climaxes, each one bigger and more intense than the previous one.  The function f(x) = xsin2x + x simply describes the curve (an ascending sine wave) of the energy of this piece as it progresses through time.

Comments [2]

Ethan Wickman

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Angles of Repose draws its title from the Wallace Stegner novel of that name about an itinerant mining engineer and his family as they struggle to prosper in the American West. In Stegner’s work, the title refers simultaneously to the angle at which granular materials achieve stability on a slope (picture the angle at which rocks no longer slide off a mountain), and the forces of fortune and consequence that ultimately shape the lives of its protagonists.

Comments [85]

David Moore

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The two pieces included here, Put Your Weight Into It and And Then It Rained, were written with a similar set of guiding principals. As with the majority of my output for the last few years, the instrumentation and orchestration remain relatively undefined.

Comments [12]

David Leisner

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vision of Orpheus, a painting by Santa Fe artist Mark Spencer, provided the initial inspiration for my quintet of the same name for guitar and string quartet. It is a representation of what Orpheus might have seen on the verge of leaving the Underworld: a glimpse of the blue sky above, with all the simple happiness that it promised, from the dark, complex, eerie, messy world below.

Comments [50]

Daniel Felsenfeld

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I can’t sleep.  I’ve tried just about everything for years and it still eludes me.  So, in 2003, when pianist Jenny Lin asked me to make her a piece, I decided to try to make music about my nocturnal life, not so much for therapeutic purposes (I’ve never felt composing was good for that) but rather to outline the feeling of a single moment of sleeplessness—that in-vain few seconds in the night when you beg to drift off but a seemingly unstoppable force prevents it.

Comments [11]

Cornelius Dufallo

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Senescence Music was written in 2008 as part of ETHEL's collaboration with choreographer Annie-B Parson. The term senescence refers to the process of aging in plant leaves. When I wrote Senescence Music I had in mind the image of a leaf slowly turning color. The piece begins in early autumn and ends in the dead of winter. Senescence Music was premiered in December, 2008, as part of ETHEL and Annie-B Parson's Wait For Green.

Comments [8]

Corey Dargel

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

These two songs come from the larger work Thirteen Near-Death Experiences, an art-pop song cycle about different kinds of psychiatric delusions, with a focus on hypochondria. Everybody Says I'm Beautiful touches on the differences between one's mental image of one's body and the way other people see it. In What Will It Be for Me, the singer ruminates on his future health, based on his family's medical history of clinical depression, heart disease, dementia, and suicide.

Comments [9]

Conrad Tao

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Love is the constant enigma.

I aim to search the endless possibilities and risks that love entails. Love, that huge concept, that bombastic idea that countless books and films pound into our heads – I have tried to capture some of it in my piano trio.

Comment

Christopher Trapani

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sparrow Episodes unfolds like a musical comic book, a series of consecutive snapshots. Musical material varies wildly from frame to frame, but together the episodes trace a single relentless forward narrative. Ideas are introduced and explored for very small spans of time (20 to 30 seconds on average); then, before they have a chance to develop, they are pushed aside to make way for the next idea.

Comments [2]

Caleb Burhans

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Things Left Unsaid was commissioned by a cello octet called the Tarab Cello Ensemble in the summer of 2006. The piece explores the emotions of both the things left unsaid that bring people closer together and when the things we don’t say tear relationships apart. This piece is one of the first of my works directly influenced by my use of loops as a means of generating material. It’s also a continuation of one of my favorite techniques of making each instrument at resonate as possible, here in the form of hocket pizzicato.

Comments [8]

Beata Moon

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My second CD of chamber music, Earthshine, was designed to let me experiment with writing for a variety of solo instrumental and mixed ensembles. The good fortune of my collaborations with Tara Helen O'Connor, Jacqueline Leclair, Marianne Gythfeldt, Ann Ellsworth, and Laura Koepke through their work with the Beata Moon Ensemble proved to be my inspiration for Wind Quintet. T

Comments [65]

Anthony Cheung

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One of my favorite places to visit is the Point Lobos State Reserve along the Monterey Coast, some two hours south of San Francisco. Unique to this area are the famous Monterey Cypresses, with their sinewy and strained roots and branches. This music seeks to reflect on the rugged beauty of these windswept trees, which continue to be sculpted by wind yet are frozen in time.

Comments [5]

Ann Millikan

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ballad Nocturne (2009) was commissioned by Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino for pianist Emanuele Arciuli. It is both a ballad, in the tradition of jazz music, and a nocturne, in the tradition of classical music. A piece that finds the intersection of both these beautiful, intimate, expressive worlds.

Comments [16]