Popular Orchestras

For many centuries, classical music was also the popular music in Europe. Written mainly for churches or wealthy patrons, much...


The Music of Orchestras

As children, many students are introduced to classical music played by symphony orchestras. The composers tend to be those who...


Jazz Orchestras

The school orchestra is where many musicians begin their performance careers, but they are unlike professional orchestras. The conductor in...

There is often confusion when referring to orchestras, and it comes from the different names and sizes of them. All orchestras are formed to play instrumental music, but size does matter when discussing how they are named. A very small group of less than fifty is generally called a chamber orchestra. They were originally composed of musicians who mainly played string instruments for wealthy patrons in their homes. They are still popular at smaller gatherings, and many symphony musicians may spend time playing with one of these groups.

Symphony and philharmonic orchestras are comprised of more than fifty members, and they are sometimes defined as more than a hundred musicians. These orchestras play in large venues such as concert halls, indoor arenas and at large outdoor shows. A symphony orchestra is a generic name for any large group of musicians, and a philharmonic orchestra is one with its own proper title for identification purposes.