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Self Organization Among Musicians And Affinity for Natural Form in Art

Posted By Prucia Buscell, Thursday, December 10, 2009
Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011

If you missed the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra recent concert at Carnegie Hall, you can repair that loss here.

This orchestra has a distinctive approach to making music. It was founded in 1972 by cellist Julian Fifer and a group of musicians who wanted to perform a diverse orchestral repertoires as a self governing group. Their website explains they perform without a conductor, and rotate musical leadership roles for each work. "The orchestra strives to empower its musicians," it says, "by integrating them into virtually every fact of the organization, literally changing the way the world thinks about musicians, conductors, and orchestras." A core team of leaders selected from the orchestra leads each particular piece and is responsible for its interpretation and arranging rehearsals.

Fifer's web site says before leaving Orpheus in 1999 to found PollyRhythm Productions, he "positioned Orpheus as an organizational model to help corporations address employee motivation, problem solving and job satisfaction." He has worked with multi- national corporations to improve teamwork and creativity.

Bassoonist Frank Morelli explained in a Carnegie Hall Playbill interviewhow accomplished, opinionated soloists are able to "coalesce around the artistic direction of the soloist" who is taking the lead and playing at a given moment. "We change on a dime from being leader to being team member through out each performance." he said, describinghis own technique forinstant changes. "My goal as a bassoonist is to think as if the soloist were playing an organ keyboard with a bassoon stop-as if he were playing my instrument. I'm not going to do it my way." The members keep focused on the soloist's vision of the piece and feel shared responsibility and connection. Learn more about Orpheus performances and history.

Internationally renowned oboe virtuoso Albrecht Mayer was a guest performer for the ensemble's Oboe Concerto by Richard Strauss. Legend has it that Strauss composed the concert at the request of a young musically gifted American army officer, John de Lancie, who is said to have met Strauss in occupied Germany in 1945. Sources differ on that. But a Playbill story says after decades playing oboe with the Philadelphia Orchestra, de Lancie recorded the Strauss piecein the 1980s and invited members of Orpheus to accompany him.

Why are Planets, Eyeballs, and Billiard Balls all Round?

If you are fascinated by celestial spheres, earth's roundness, and circles in such art as the paintings of Russian master Vasily Kandinsky, read Natalie Angier's engaging story "The Circular Logic of the Universe" in the December 8 New York Times science section. Larry Liebovitch has studied heavenly orbs and human eyes, and Angier reports his observations on what makes things round. Liebovitch is a physicist, astronomer and complexity scholar who is associate dean for graduate studies and programs at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Sciences and professor at the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences at Florida Atlantic University.Physics accounts for the roundness of some things, he says, but no one is really sure about the reason for the shape of human eyeballs.

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