The Sinfonia Educational Foundation - at one time called simply the Sinfonia Foundation - has throughout its history periodically commissioned works of music. One of these is "The Spirit of Orpheus" by Brother Robert W. Smith, Gamma Alpha (James Madison) ’96. The work was commissioned and dedicated to the Sinfonia Foundation, and bears the following program notes from Smith himself:
In Greek mythology, Orpheus was a Thracian musician whose magical skill on the lyre enabled him to charm the trees, rivers, and stones, as well as wild beasts. He was the son of Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, and a Thracian river-god. Orpheus married the nymph Eurydice, but she soon died, bitten on the heel by a snake. Her grieving husband followed her to the underworld and, by playing on his lyre, charmed the deities into releasing her.
The Spirit of Orpheus was composed as a tribute to the musicians past and present of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Their contributions to the world of music have been immeasurable.
I hope that you and your ensemble find The Spirit of Orpheus to be a rewarding musical experience. Best of luck in your musical endeavors. Best wishes for a great performance!
One synopsis of the piece speaks glowingly of both Smith's composing and the piece itself:
Commissioned by the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Foundation, this brilliant new composition by Robert W. Smith follows in a long line of high energy, vibrantly descriptive and excitingly scored works from this dynamic young American composer. Set as a tribute to musicians past and present, all of the Smith trademarks are present, guaranteeing your musicians will thoroughly enjoy rehearsals and audiences will rise to their feet applauding at the performance's conclusion. A truly important new musical statement!
The link between classic mythology, noted musical figures within these myths, and Sinfonia has long since been solidly established. This work represents a celebration of that spirit. The collaboration, both financial and conceptual, of the commission's donors and composer is representative of the high standards of quality Phi Mu Alpha has always stood for. And it exemplifies how we have contributed meaningfully to the American music landscape.