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Concert features the New York premiere of Mr. Say’s Orpheus-commissioned Chamber Symphony, Op. 62, and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major with Mr. Say as soloist

Program also includes Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and Haydn’s Symphony No. 80 in D minor

From April 15 to 24, Orpheus tours Germany, Italy, and Austria with Mr. Say
and performs at the Budapest Spring Festival

NEW YORK, NY (March 3, 2015)—In the final concert of its annual series at Carnegie Hall this season, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will be joined by Turkish pianist-composer Fazıl Say for the New York premiere of his new Chamber Symphony, Op. 62, commissioned by Orpheus as part of its American Notes initiative. Mr. Say also performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major with Orpheus as soloist. Making his Orpheus debut this season, Mr. Say last performed in the US at the Met Museum in April 2012. Orpheus will also perform Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and Haydn’s Symphony No. 80 in D minor, both signature works from its Deutsche Grammophon catalog.

The concert takes place at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium on Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets priced from $14.50 to $110 are available from Carnegie Hall by phone at (212) 247-7800, online at www.carnegiehall.org, or in person at the box office.

Orpheus Executive Director Krishna Thiagarajan says, “The Mozart piano concerto is well-suited for Fazıl Say because he is very much like a young Mozart, as an excellent pianist-composer who is outspoken, energetic, and worldly. In some ways Fazıl has taken a path not unlike the earlier composer, who left his hometown of Salzburg, absorbed new ideas in the cultural capitals of Europe, and finally found his niche in Vienna. Our performance of this concerto will play up the showmanship and spontaneity that defined Mozart’s musical life.”

Exemplifying the borderless world of music in the 21st century, Mr. Say grew up in Ankara, Turkey, studied at the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf and the Berlin Conservatory of Music, lived in New York (where he won First Prize at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1994), and is now based in Istanbul. He performs repertoire ranging from Bach to Viennese and Romantic classics to contemporary works including his own compositions, and has appeared with leading orchestras and conductors on all five continents.

As a composer, he has written over 80 original works and arrangements, and his compositional style often features a fantasia-like structure, a variable, syncopated, and often dance-like rhythm, a continuous, driving pulse, and melodic ideas that often can be traced back to themes from the folk music of Turkey and its neighbors. In these respects, Mr. Say stands to some extent in the tradition of composers like Béla Bartók, George Enescu, and György Ligeti, who also drew on the rich musical folklore of their countries. Prior works by Mr. Say have taken inspiration from the poetry and lives of 20th-century Turkish writers such as Nâzım Hikmet and Metin Altıok as well as 11th-century Persian mathematician-astronomer-philosopher-poet Omar Khayyám. One of Mr. Say’s best-known works is Black Earth for solo piano, written in 1997 and inspired by Turkish folk singer and poet Âşık Veysel as well as John Cage and his prepared piano techniques. More than 25 recordings feature Mr. Say’s compositions or piano performances.

Mr. Thiagarajan continues, “Fazıl likes to try things out, mix genres in his compositional style, and use cultural influences from the Middle East, especially Turkey. We rarely hear the Turkish influence in classical music publicly at this high level of art form. In our changing, globalizing world, Fazıl is a very important musician and composer, and the perfect collaborator with Orpheus.”

Mr. Say’s Chamber Symphony, Op. 62 is the third work premiered this season as part of Orpheus’ American Notes commissioning initiative. The three composers, who all contribute diverse perspectives on American identity within an increasingly interconnected world and were chosen by the Orpheus Artistic Directors, include London-born, Chicago-based composer Anna Clyne and American composer-pianist Timo Andres.

Following the concert at Carnegie Hall, Orpheus embarks on its major international tour this season, which leads them to Italy, Germany, Austria, and Hungary from April 15 to 24. Mr. Say joins Orpheus to perform in Bologna, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, St. Pölten, Innsbruck, and at the “Heidelberger Frühling” Music Festival, and Orpheus also performs at the Budapest Spring Festival.

Mr. Thiagarajan says, “We are thrilled to be touring with Fazıl Say in Germany—which we return to as often as Japan—as well as in Italy and Austria. Orpheus has built its career in Europe, with most of the recordings in our catalog having been released by Deutsche Grammophon. Artists and audiences in Europe identify with us as much as they do in the United States; it is a cross-pollination of ideas. The cultures in Europe and the US are distinct and varied, thus staying in touch is essential.”

Mr. Say’s Chamber Symphony, Op. 62 will be given its world premiere by Orpheus at Lafayette College on Wednesday, April 8 at 8 p.m.

About Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

The 2014-15 season marks Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s 42nd year of making internationally acclaimed music, from classical to contemporary, while reinventing the way individuals and organizations across the world think about collaboration, outreach, and democratic leadership. Performing without a conductor, Orpheus integrates musicians into virtually every facet of the organization, including artistic and administrative decisions, by rotating musical leadership roles for each piece and running open forum rehearsals. With over 70 albums, collaborations with leading contemporary soloists, and more than 40 commissioned works as part of its history, Orpheus strives to expand the repertoire for chamber orchestra and continues to develop its international reputation through innovative projects and tours to Europe, Asia, and South America. Orpheus’ four-concert series at Carnegie Hall this season has included performances with Jonathan Biss, Jennifer Koh, and Anne Akiko Meyers, and new commissions from Anna Clyne and Timo Andres.

The Orpheus Process™, an original method that places democracy at the center of artistic execution, has been the focus of studies at Harvard and Stanford, and of leadership seminars at Morgan Stanley and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, among others. The collaborative process is also shared with grade-school and university-level students through two Orpheus programs. Access Orpheus engages close to 2,000 New York City public school students from all five boroughs through in-class visits, invitations to orchestra rehearsals, free tickets to Carnegie Hall, and supplementary curricula material. Orpheus Institute teaches experiential training in collective leadership to the next generation of musicians, university students, musical entrepreneurs, and business leaders, through residencies at select universities and conservatories that have included Dartmouth College, the Interlochen Arts Academy, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Maryland; as artists-in-residence, Orpheus has visited these campuses to facilitate coaching sessions, rehearsals, and master classes as well as play concerts.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Orpheus a $400,000 grant in October 2014 for its new Next Generation Orpheus initiative. Founded on principles of inclusiveness and empowerment, Orpheus is committed to building stronger connections with broader and younger audiences, in part by reflecting the diversity of its global audience within its internal musician network. The grant will fund Orpheus’ efforts to promote diversity both on and off the stage, and will provide support for musician-led transitions from a founder-driven organization to the orchestra’s next generation.

About Fazıl Say

With his extraordinary talents, pianist-composer Fazıl Say has been affecting audiences and critics alike for more than 25 years. When the German composer Aribert Reimann, during a visit to Ankara in 1986 with American pianist David Levine, heard Mr. Say play at the age of 16, he immediately asked Mr. Levine to accompany him at the city’s conservatory, saying, “You absolutely must hear him, this boy plays like a devil.”

Mr. Say had his first piano lessons from Mithat Fenmen, who studied with Alfred Cortot in Paris. Mr. Fenmen asked Mr. Say to improvise on themes to do with his daily life before he went on to the essential piano exercises and studies. This free creative process was the source of an improvisatory talent that makes Mr. Say the pianist and composer he is today. From 1987 onwards, Mr. Say honed his skills as a classical pianist with Mr. Levine, first at the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf and later in Berlin, which formed the 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 sovereign ease. And it is precisely this blend of refinement (in Bach, Haydn, and Mozart) and virtuoso brilliance (in Liszt, Mussorgsky and Beethoven) that led him to win First Prize at the Young Concert Artists international competition in New York in 1994, at which he also performed his own Opus 1 work, Four Dances Nasreddin Hodja.

Mr. Say has been commissioned to write music for the Salzburg Festival, WDR, Konzerthaus Dortmund, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, among others. His output includes compositions for solo keyboard, chamber music, and symphonic orchestra as well as concertos and vocal, choral, and narrative works. Recent works include Istanbul Symphony, Op. 28; 1001 Nights in the Harem violin concerto, Op. 25, premiered by Patricia Kopatchinskaja; Trumpet Concerto, Op. 31, premiered by Gábor Boldoczki; Khayyam clarinet concerto, Op. 36, premiered by Sabine Meyer; the Divorce string quartet, Op. 29; and the piano concerto Nirvana Burning, Op. 30. Mr. Say’s works are issued worldwide by music publishers Schott of Mainz.

From 2005 to 2010 Mr. Say was an exclusive artist at the Dortmund Konzerthaus; during the 2010-11 season he was artist-in-residence at the Berlin Konzerthaus; and in the summer of 2011 he was a highlight of the Schleswig-Holstein Festival. There have been further residencies and Fazıl Say festivals in Paris, Tokyo, Meran, Hamburg, and Istanbul. During the 2012-13 season Mr. Say was artist-in-residence at the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt am Main and Rheingau Musik Festival, where he was honored with the Rheingau Musik Preis.

Mr. Say’s recordings of works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Gershwin, and Stravinsky have been highly praised by the critics and received several prizes, among them three ECHO Klassik awards. His recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Sonatas Op. 111 and Op. 27, No. 2 “Moonlight” was released in 2014 as well as the album Say plays Say featuring his compositions for piano.

For many years Mr. Say performed with the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and among his notable chamber music partners are the Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta, the Borusan Quartet of Istanbul, and other Turkish instrumental soloists.

In addition to modern European instruments, Mr. Say performs on instruments from his native Turkey, including kudüm and darbuka drums and the ney reed flute.

# # #

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m.
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium
Fazıl Say, piano

WAGNER                 Siegfried Idyll
MOZART                  Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488
FAZIL SAY               Chamber Symphony, Op. 62 (New York premiere)
HAYDN                     Symphony No. 80 in D minor

Tickets priced from $14.50 to $110 are available from Carnegie Hall by phone at (212) 247-7800, online at www.carnegiehall.org, or in person at the box office.

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