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Concert Preview: Lisiecki & Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at the NAC—10.15.19

By Madeline Paiva on October 12, 2019

Jan Lisiecki returns to the National Arts Centre on October 15th for the Lisiecki & Orpheus Chamber Orchestra program. The Calgary-born pianist, who recently accompanied the NAC Orchestra on their Crossings tour earlier this year, is joined by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for a performance of pieces by both Jessie Montgomery and Felix Mendelssohn.

I had the privilege of seeing Lisiecki in rehearsal after the Crossings press conference last season and I can confirm he is one to watch! He is an incredible pianist who plays with the absolute speed and vigour necessary of the complicated pieces he performs, and never misses a note. Lisiecki began playing at the age of five and has had an incredible career so far, notably making his New York Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 22. The now 24 year-old pianist has established himself as a talented and recognized performer.

The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra hails from New York City and was formed in 1972. The classical chamber orchestra performs without a conductor, rather the musicians lead themselves. They are a group of 34 musicians that performs a regular series at Carnegie Hall and also tours internationally. This is their first performance at the NAC.

The program will begin with Jessie Montgomery’s Shift, Change, Turn, and Variations. This piece is a newly commissioned work that makes its world premiere at this performance. Montgomery began to play the violin at the age of four, and studied at The Juilliard School and at New York University, and has become an integral performer and composer for the Orpheus ensemble. She will be the first Artistic Partner for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. She commissioned Records from a Vanishing City for the Orchestra back in 2016.

The program continues with Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op.25. This piece has an incredibly intricate piano score. A fast paced and generic combination, with moments of romance and melancholy, its three movements are played consecutively, with no break in between. If you want an introduction to the piece before this performance, you can listen to Lisiecki perform it with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra on his album here.

The program ends with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4, “Italian.” The movement harkens to the sounds of Italy, with a sweet evocation that places an audience in an Italian atmosphere from its opening. A quite beautiful composition, the Concerto is made up of four movements: I. Allegro, II. Andante, III. Con Moto Moderato, and IV. Saltarello.

Lisiecki is truly a joy to watch. Audiences are so immersed in his performances that it’s incredibly hard not to enjoy. Come and experience Lisiecki’s return and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s NAC Premiere!


The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Jan Lisiecki perform at the National Arts Centre (1 Elgin St) on Tuesday October 15th at 8pm. The performance runs approximately 2 hours including intermission. Tickets are available online for $31–109. Student tickets and $15 Live Rush are available for this performance.