When we first sat down with Jonathan, he was quick to correct us on his title—he is one of three artistic directors of the internationally acclaimed Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. It’s an important distinction because it gets to the very heart of Orpheus’ artistry. Orpheus is a conductor-less orchestra that allows its players to engage directly with the music. Their unique process has helped them earn a Grammy® award and is the reason why students at Harvard and Stanford study them. In a traditional symphony orchestra, the players follow the interpretative vision of the conductor. Orpheus’ players work through passages together as a smaller chamber ensemble might. Their creative process is marked by steady negotiation and an intimacy with the material that changes the quality of the performance—every phrase, every interlude is infused with personal passion and unequivocal conviction.
This type of leadership is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage to set aside your ego, embrace ambiguity and allow others to shape the vision. Jonathan would say it’s a tough journey at times, but one well worth making. Because at the end of the day, you will have engaged a true team—people bringing their best selves forward and contributing their all to create something that no one individual could have ever imagined alone.