October 28, 2020 Blog

Get to Know Orchestra 2001

The longevity of Orchestra 2001 extends beyond its futuristic moniker. The organization continues to embrace the future of music by celebrating diverse composers, styles, and audiences through their performances. Learn more about Orchestra 2001 and its executive director, Adam Lesnick, in this Q&A.

What would you consider one of Philadelphia’s best-kept secrets?
The Mütter Museum and Dahlak Paradise, but not on the same day.

What inspired the founding of your organization? What creative need does your organization fill? What differentiates your organization from others with similar missions?
More than 30 years ago, Orchestra 2001 aimed to be a vision into what the future of classical music might look like. Now, decades after our once-futuristic moniker from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is very much in the rearview mirror, we still present the music of “today.” This includes greater inclusion of women composers and composers of color, and subject matters like global warming, the U.S./ Mexico border, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

What’s your organization’s guiding principle/s?
Become a group that connects people through music. Collaborate with like-minded groups and individuals. Break down barriers and have greater equity through shared human experiences of diverse communities.

What was the most memorable response someone has had to your work?
Hearing five minutes of applause after performing for a mining community in Appalachia.

Being embraced with selfies and a potluck feast after performing for a Navajo community in Many Farms, Arizona. Some of the musicians said this was the most memorable audience of their careers.

The creative/artistic life can often feel isolating. What do you do to counteract that?
Work in collaborative environments with other artists like at Cherry Street Pier.

Name three artists to whom you’d like to be compared. Why?
Frank Zappa. Orchestra 2001 played the U.S. premiere of his work The Yellow Shark. My favorite quotes from him are “Music is the only religion that delivers the goods,” and “Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.”

Miles Davis. My favorite quote from him is, “I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning… Every day I find something creative to do with my life.”

Anthony Bourdain. He was my idol. He combined the art of food with seeing similarities in so many different cultures. My favorite quote from him is, “Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food.”

Is cereal soup? Why or why not?
Don’t know, but I’ll take Cap’n Crunch over cream of broccoli any day.

If someone asked to be your apprentice and learn all that you know, what would you teach them?
Don’t spend so much time counting beans that you miss opportunities to grow beanstalks.


Follow Orchestra 2001 on social media at @orchestra_2001.
Learn more about all the artists-in-residence.
This Q&A is one in an artist Q&A series titled Get to Know. All Q&A’s were reviewed and edited by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation Digital team.