Xak Bjerken Plays Elizabeth Ogonek's Orpheus Suite

When Covid-19 came to Ithaca in mid March, as with most other musicians, all concerts were cancelled and thus my immediate reason to practice was gone. For the first time in my life, I didn’t touch the piano for three months. I was floundering around, trying to find repertoire to inspire me—and the piece that was my refuge I present today: Elizabeth Ogonek’s Orpheus Suite from 2018. We are delighted that Elizabeth will join our composition faculty in 2021 (read about it here), and she is someone I have known for four years. She talks with me in one of the videos about this work and how it relates to the final selection of The Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke, with its deep personal resonance to her. Rilke wrote these 55 sonnets in his own refuge in Switzerland in a three-week “savage creative storm” after years when he was unable to write.

—Xak Bjerken

Bjerken-playing

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