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What Are the Different Types of Orchestra Concerts?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 23, 2024
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The different types of orchestra concerts include large-scale performances by a philharmonic or symphony orchestra, as well as those done on a smaller scale, such as chamber orchestra concerts. An instrumental ensemble also usually accompanies opera and other types of vocal performances. Other kinds of orchestra concerts can be performed by a wind ensemble rather than a traditional full orchestra. The types of music played in each of these performances can vary widely from classical to contemporary.

Music selections for large orchestra concerts often include at least one concerto or symphony written by one or more famous classical composers. These pieces can frequently date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, although some 20th-century pieces can also be chosen for certain music performances. Although some are meant to be played by a smaller chamber orchestra, many others are intended for a full ensemble with string, woodwind, brass, and percussion sections. Orchestra concerts are sometimes arranged with a focus on music from a certain historical period, such as the Baroque or Romantic era. Other performances can also feature the work of one specific composer.

Chamber orchestra concerts are typically performed by a smaller group of usually fewer than 50 musicians as opposed to more than 100 players in a symphony orchestra. Pieces of classical music in these performances are often written specifically for these kinds of chamber concerts. Examples sometimes include orchestral suites, which are series of shorter pieces that a composer has arranged according to a common theme. Some chamber groups can include only three or four musicians who play music written for these small ensembles. Some examples of this include string quartet pieces or instrument trio pieces written for combinations of piano and woodwinds.

Wind ensembles are groups of musicians that normally perform without string accompaniment, and they often perform adaptations of classical pieces to be played only by woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. This type of instrumental group may also perform other music genres, such as jazz or non-vocal versions of pop music. A wind ensemble is also sometimes called a concert band or symphonic band.

Regardless of the size and type of an orchestra, many of these instrumental ensembles stage concerts with a wide range of musical styles. Some concerts may feature a mix of classical pieces, upbeat popular songs, and even scores from well-known films. These varied programs are typically intended to appeal to as many audience members as possible.

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Discussion Comments
By Azuza — On Sep 17, 2011

@sunnySkys - I'm familiar with that Metallica CD collection too. Good stuff!

I also got a chance to see another unconventional orchestra concert awhile ago-my local orchestra performed with a beat-boxer. Now that was really something! It brought in a pretty big crowd too, and I could tell everyone around me really enjoyed the show. Maybe more orchestras should try these types of concerts.

By sunnySkys — On Sep 17, 2011

@Sinbad - I also enjoy it when orchestras pop up in unexpected places. Metallica did a 2 CD set with a symphony a few years ago and I thought it was really well done! It was really neat to see how the blended heavy metal with the sounds of a symphony orchestra.

I know a lot of people that were surprised by the partnership between Metallica and the orchestra, and I was too at first. But the more I thought about it, I realized a lot of people who are into music are into more than one type. Who knows? Some of the members of the symphony may have already been Metallica fans or vice versa!

By Misscoco — On Sep 16, 2011

@John57 - You are very lucky that your church has an orchestra of 30 fine musicians. That's neat that they play regularly and at special concerts.

In my church, a group of about six play woodwind and percussion instruments every two months or so.

Everyone is always excited when they play at the church service. Once after playing a rather solemn arrangement, they suddenly started playing a big band era song. Big smiles lit up everyone's face. It was great!

By live2shop — On Sep 16, 2011

I prefer to go to a concert featuring a full symphony orchestra. I just love watching the conductor directing various parts of the orchestra. And it's intriguing to listen to all the different sounds, sometimes together and sometimes separately.

Many people seem to like going to a performance where a variety of music is played - classical, modern jazz, big band, and mood music. After listening to that orchestra music, your sure feel good as you walk out of the concert hall!

By Saraq90 — On Sep 15, 2011

@sinbad - You are in luck many colleges with strong music programs have an orchestra which means you can check them out and you can probably do it on a budget.

However, why not go all out. Carnegie Hall in New York City is supposed to have quite the acoustic set-up, and there are so many things to do in NYC anyway, that I would say go ahead and go to Carnegie Hall and see an orchestral performance.

In fact, you might find something as interesting as Carnegie Hall is classic and modern. For example in 2009, they kept up with the times by having a collaborative online orchestra.

By Sinbad — On Sep 14, 2011

I love it when people use orchestra sounds in pop music. The change from the usual (guitars, pianos, etc.) makes my ears happy and in the songs I have heard them add orchestras to, they have done a superb job of not trying to make the song sound classical, rather they make the orchestra sound like pop!

One of the best examples I have heard (if anyone is looking for some!) is a song that was performed by Kelly Clarkson & Jason Aldean - Don't You Wanna Stay at the CMA awards. Well well done.

But sadly that is the most I have seen of an orchestra, but I love live music and I can only imagine what an awe inspiring energy it would be to hear a live orchestra. Any suggestions on how to find orchestral performances?

By bagley79 — On Sep 14, 2011

I have learned to appreciate and enjoy a good orchestra concert over the years. In high school I played the clarinet in band, but that is about the extent of my musical ability.

As I have gotten older I enjoy the sounds of the instruments working together and always wish I had put more effort into playing a musical instrument.

Our city has a symphony orchestra that I won free tickets to a couple months ago. This was a very enjoyable concert and I found that I really like the upbeat songs the best.

By John57 — On Sep 13, 2011

Our church has an orchestra that is made up of approximately 30 people. Many of the members are very talented musicians and this gives them an opportunity to play on a regular basis.

Some members hadn't picked up their instrument since high school, but they are still very good musicians.

In addition to playing for our regular services, they perform some concerts throughout the year. Every Christmas they have a big concert that is very well attended.

We are in the process of building a new sanctuary where they will have an orchestra pit where they can sit instead of being up on the platform.

I enjoy the variety of instruments that are used including the strings, woodwinds, and brass, but my favorite section is the percussion.

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