Musica Orbis

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Musica Orbis was a Philadelphia, USA, based electric chamber music[1] quintet performing between 1972 and 1979.[2] Instrumentation included voices, harp, flute, cello, acoustic and electric bass, drums, marimba, vibes, synthesizer, organ, pump organ, knee harp, wooden recorder, bells, hand percussion, Fender Rhodes, and piano.[3] [4]


Formation and Debut[edit]

Musica Orbis was founded in late spring 1972 by singer/songwriter Kitty Brazelton[5] and Tom Stephenson (percussion, cello)[6] on the Swarthmore College campus. Susan Gelletly (keyboards) and Caroline "Caille" Colburn (harp) then joined, followed by David Clark (percussion), James J. Kelly (guitars) and William Pastuszek Jr. (saxophones & bass). The group debuted as a septet on April 15, 1973 in Bond Hall on the Swarthmore College campus.[7] Before their official debut, they opened for jazz-rock Good God and Blue Öyster Cult in Clothier Hall, Swarthmore College in March of 1973.

Musica Orbis: Kitty Brazelton, Caille Colburn, Tom Stephenson, David Clark, Susan Gelletly. Photo by Tom Sherman, 1975.


In fall 1973 Musica Orbis reduced from septet to quintet with Brazelton, Clark, Colburn, Gelletly and Stephenson remaining.

In the winter of 1974–1975, the quintet accompanied the Group Motion Multimedia Dance Theater and later performed at Wilma Project, the Painted Bride, The Bijou, Annenberg Center on the Penn campus. The Irvin R. Glazer Theater Collection, Philadelphia Athenaeum, shows a photo of the old Bandbox Theatre with a marquee: "CONCERT BY MUSICA ORBIS/NEW YEARS DAY FIVE PM".[10] The song "William" was composed in 1975 for Musica Orbis by Kitty Brazelton.

1976–1977, New York and Boston[edit]

Musica Orbis organized a dawn concert on the Delaware River on June 14, 1976. The band then began to play in New York and Boston, drawing reviews in Billboard, The New York Times, Boston Phoenix and elsewhere.

Cambridge's The Real Paper featured Musica Orbis as Band of the Month in April 1976.[11] [11]

Writer Mike Baron, Mather House Music Society, Harvard University, hosted the band's sold out May 1st appearance at Sanders Theater in Harvard Square, Cambridge.

Musica Orbis played in the Chapel at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church (New York City),[12] off-off-Broadway Cubiculo Theatre and the downtown club CBGB.[13]

LP "To the Listeners"[edit]

In 1977 Musica Orbis released its LP "To the Listeners" on its own label, Longdivity. The original record had a fold-out jacket and, if bought directly from the group, the LP was accompanied by a signed certificate. Because the LP sold 5000 copies independently, "To the Listeners" was picked up for distribution by Rounder Records. LPs manufactured by Rounder have a simple sleeve and outer cover art only, no color.

1977–1979, U.S.[edit]

National tours[edit]

During 1977 and 1978, after the LP's release, the band was booked on four national tours with concert dates in 25 states, as well as TV appearances and radio broadcasts. They traveled in caravan with a mobile home, cook/road manager, sound and lights. Original member keyboardist Susan Gelletly left in 1977 and was replaced by pianist Bob Loiselle and later, guitarist Bill Mauchly added to create a sextet.[citation needed]


After a season of farewell concerts, Musica Orbis disbanded in 1979.


  1. ^ Liz Burrell, "Musica Orbis Performance Expresses Diversity in Electric Chamber Music," Swarthmore Phoenix, Tuesday, April 24, 1973.
  2. ^ "Goings On About Town: Nightlife (p. 8)". The New Yorker. September 27, 1976. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  3. ^ Fishel, Jim (December 15, 1975). "Talent in Action: Musica Orbis, St. Bartholomew's Church, New York". Billboard Magazine.
  4. ^ The Wire. C. Parker. 2003.
  5. ^ Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner (2006). Women Composers and Music Technology in the United States: Crossing the Line. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 143–. ISBN 978-0-7546-0461-7.
  6. ^ "Resurrecting Rock: How one student folk band almost made it". The Phoenix.
  7. ^ Burrell, Liz (April 24, 1973). "Musica Orbis Performance Expresses Diversity in Electric Chamber Music". Swarthmore Phoenix. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  8. ^ St. Clair, Munsell (March 27, 1973). "Noise, Volume, Variety Dominate Swarthmore Rock-Jazz Festival". Swarthmore Phoenix. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  9. ^ Munsell St. Clair, "Noise, Volume, Variety Dominate Swarthmore Rock-Jazz Festival," Swarthmore Phoenix, Tuesday, March 27, 1973. u
  10. ^ Glazer, Irvin R. (1986). Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z: A Comprehensive, Descriptive Record of 813 Theatres Constructed Since 1724. New York: Greenwood Press. p. 64.
  11. ^ a b Baron, Mike (April 28, 1976). "Band of the Month". The Real Paper, Boston's weekly newspaper. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  12. ^ Jim Fishel, "Talent in Action: Musica Orbis, St. Bartholomew's Church, New York," Billboard Magazine, December 15, 1975
  13. ^ Palmer, Robert (April 13, 1976). "Later Influences Enrich Jazz of New Orleans Band" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  • Goings On About Town: Nightlife (p. 8), The New Yorker, September 27 1976.
  • May 8–10, 1970, The Second Fret Coffeehouse, Philadelphia, PA
  • Irvin R. Glazer, "Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z: A Comprehensive, Descriptive Record of 813 Theatres Constructed Since 1724." New York: Greenwood Press, 1986, p. 64.
  • Robert Palmer, "Later Influences Enrich Jazz of New Orleans Band", New York Times, April 13, 1976.
  • Mike Baron, "Band of the Month," The Real Paper, Boston's weekly newspaper, April 28, 1976 Vol. 5, No. 17