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Orion Weiss

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“When you’re named after one of the biggest constellations in the night sky, the pressure is on to display a little star power — and the young pianist Orion Weiss did exactly that…”   – The Washington Post

One of the most sought-after soloists in his generation of young American musicians, the pianist Orion Weiss has performed with the major American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and New York Philharmonic. His deeply felt and exceptionally crafted performances go far beyond his technical mastery and have won him worldwide acclaim.

The 2013-14 season will feature Weiss with orchestras around North America, including the Milwaukee and Vancouver Symphonies; in the summer of 2014 he will perform again with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The 2012-13 season saw Weiss in repeat engagements with the Baltimore Symphony and New World Symphony, as well as in performances with the Tucson Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Hong Kong Chamber Music Festival, and at the Ravinia Festival. During the 2011-12 season, Weiss performed with numerous orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Mexico City Philharmonic, and also made his recital debut in Washington, D.C., at the Kennedy Center.

In spring 2012, Weiss released a recital album of Dvorak, Prokofiev, and Bartok to much acclaim, performing with “prodigious technique that helps bring out the nuances in the music on this disc that embodies so many contrasting moods and colours” (MusicWeb International). That same year, he spearheaded a recording project of the complete Gershwin works for piano and orchestra with his longtime collaborators the Buffalo Philharmonic and JoAnn Falletta. The first release in the two-part series showcases the Concerto in F in a performance that Classics Today called “one of the more thoughtful and beautiful versions of the work to come out in recent years.” The second album, with Rhapsody in Blue as its centerpiece, was released last summer to similar praise: “positively luscious” (Classics Today).

Named the Classical Recording Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year in September 2010, in the summer of 2011 Weiss made his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood as a last-minute replacement for Leon Fleisher. In recent seasons, he has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and in duo summer concerts with the New York Philharmonic at both Lincoln Center and the Bravo! Vail Valley Festival. In 2005, he toured Israel with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Itzhak Perlman.

Also known for his affinity and enthusiasm for chamber music, Weiss performs regularly with his wife, the pianist Anna Polonsky, the violinists James Ehnes and Arnaud Sussman, and the cellist Julie Albers, as well as ensembles including the Pacifica Quartet. As a recitalist and chamber musician, Weiss has appeared across the U.S. at venues and festivals including Lincoln Center, the Ravinia Festival, Sheldon Concert Hall, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, Chamber Music Northwest, the Bard Music Festival, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, the Kennedy Center, and Spivey Hall. He won the 2005 William Petschek Recital Award at Juilliard, and made his New York recital debut at Alice Tully Hall that April. Also in 2005 he made his European debut in a recital at the Musée du Louvre in Paris. He was a member of the Chamber Music Society Two program of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center from 2002-2004, which included his appearance in the opening concert of the Society’s 2002-2003 season at Alice Tully Hall performing Ravel’s La Valse with pianist Shai Wosner.

Weiss’s impressive list of awards includes the Gilmore Young Artist Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Gina Bachauer Scholarship at the Juilliard School and the Mieczyslaw Munz Scholarship. A native of Lyndhurst, OH, Weiss attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Paul Schenly, Daniel Shapiro, Sergei Babayan, Kathryn Brown, and Edith Reed. In February of 1999, Weiss made his Cleveland Orchestra debut performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. In March 1999, with less than 24 hours’ notice, Weiss stepped in to replace André Watts for a performance of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He was immediately invited to return to the Orchestra for a performance of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in October 1999. In 2004, he graduated from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Emanuel Ax.