The Orion String Quartet is one of the leading chamber music ensembles on the classical music scene today. Admired for the diverse nature of their programming, which juxtaposes masterworks of the quartet literature with key works from the 20th and 21st centuries, the Orion provides singularly rich dimension to its music-making. The members of the quartet—violinists Daniel Phillips and Todd Phillips (brothers who share the first-violin chair equally), violist Steven Tenenbom, and cellist Timothy Eddy—have worked closely with illustrious musicians, such as Pablo Casals; Sir András Schiff; Rudolf Serkin; Peter Serkin; Isaac Stern; Pinchas Zukerman; members of TASHI and the Beaux Arts Trio; and the Budapest, Végh, Galimir, and Guarneri string quartets. The quartet serves as artist members of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and quartet-in-residence at the Mannes School of Music in New York City.
In the summer of 2018, the Orion String Quartet returned to the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, with which they’ve enjoyed a long association, to perform eight programs that included works by Haydn, Dvořák, Beethoven, and Ravel. During the 2018–19 season, they perform an affecting program that includes J. S. Bach’s cantata Ich habe genug, BWV 82, and Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ for The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. For the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, they present an all-Schubert program, including the String Quartet in G Major, D. 887, and the Cello Quintet in C Major, D. 956, for which they’re joined by cellist Peter Wiley. At Mannes, where the quartet is featured in an annual four-concert series, they present programs spotlighting Schubert’s late quartets.
The 2017–18 season marked the Orion String Quartet’s 30th anniversary, which the group celebrated with performances at principal chamber music series throughout North America, including Chamber Music Pittsburgh and South Mountain Concerts; in cities such as Philadelphia, Phoenix, and San Antonio; and at Mannes, where they played the complete Beethoven string quartets in a series of six concerts. For The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Orion appeared on an all-Haydn program and presented a contemporary-music concert featuring works written for the group. The concert included the world premiere of Sebastian Currier’s Etudes and Lullabies, a commission by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; David Dzubay’s String Quartet No. 1, “Astral”; and Brett Dean’s String Quartet No. 2 for Strings and Soprano, “And Once I Played Ophelia,” which featured new-music specialist Tony Arnold as soloist.
The Orion String Quartet has given stimulus to the development and expansion of the string quartet repertoire through commissions from composers Chick Corea, David Del Tredici, Alexander Goehr, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Thierry Lancino, Lowell Liebermann, Peter Lieberson, Wynton Marsalis, and Marc Neikrug. As a hallmark of their 25th anniversary, the Orion collaborated with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in a two-week project that featured music by Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Ravel, and Beethoven. WQXR’s The Greene Space produced a live broadcast of the collaboration, including the performance and a discussion with members of the Orion and choreographer Bill T. Jones.
Heard frequently on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, the Orion String Quartet has also appeared on PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center, A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts, and ABC’s Good Morning America. The quartet was established in 1987 and took its name from the Orion constellation as a metaphor for the personality each musician brings to the group in its collective pursuit of the highest musical ideals.