This preview has been provided by the Duke University Music Department.

Sunday, September 25
   4 pm
   Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University

$10 general admission; students & youth free
Info: 919-660-3333 or

The Orfeo Project includes a performance with narrative reflection by Mr. Powers on Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. The eight movements of the quartet will be punctuated by a moving account of the work’s 1941 premiere, drawn from the pages of Powers’ novel. The concert begins with Cadences by Duke faculty composer Scott Lindroth, a new work inspired by Powers’ meditations on musical imagination and creation.

Featuring Richard Powers, the Horszowski Trio (Jesse Mills, violin; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello; and Rieko Aizawa, piano), clarinetist Benjamin Fingland, flutist Laura Gilbert and Duke University faculty violist Jonathan Bagg.


Related Event

Words and Music: A Conversation about Project Orfeo

Friday, September 23
   12 – 1 pm
   Forum for Scholars and Publics (Old Chemistry, Room 011), Duke University

The public is invited to attend a casual discussion with novelist Richard Powers, violist Jonathan Bagg, and composer Scott Lindroth about collaborations between musicians and writers, and these artists’ experience working together on Project Orfeo.  Free and open to the public.

Powers’ visit and the performance of Project Orfeo are co-sponsored by Duke University’s Department of Music and the Humanities Futures Initiative at the Franklin Humanities Institute. Development of the Orfeo Project was supported by Electric Earth Concerts in Peterborough, NH, Avaloch Farm Music Institute in Boscawen, NH, and the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts.


About Richard Powers’ Orfeo

The National Book Award–winning author of The Echo Maker delivers his most emotionally charged novel to date, inspired by the myth of Orpheus. “If Powers were an American writer of the nineteenth century… he’d probably be the Herman Melville of Moby-Dick. His picture is that big,” wrote Margaret Atwood (New York Review of Books). Indeed, since his debut in 1985 with Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance, Richard Powers has been astonishing readers with novels that are sweeping in range, dazzling in technique, and rich in their explorations of music, art, literature, and technology.

In Orfeo, Powers tells the story of a man journeying into his past as he desperately flees the present. Composer Peter Els opens the door one evening to find the police on his doorstep. His home microbiology lab — the latest experiment in his lifelong attempt to find music in surprising patterns — has aroused the suspicions of Homeland Security. Panicked by the raid, Els turns fugitive. As an Internet-fueled hysteria erupts, Els — the “Bioterrorist Bach” — pays a final visit to the people he loves, those who shaped his musical journey. Through the help of his ex-wife, his daughter, and his longtime collaborator, Els hatches a plan to turn this disastrous collision with the security state into a work of art that will reawaken its audience to the sounds all around them. The result is a novel that soars in spirit and language by a writer who “may be America’s most ambitious novelist” (Kevin Berger, San Francisco Chronicle).