Awesome Insights

What is a philharmonic orchestra?

A philharmonic orchestra is a large collection of up to about 100 musicians, who play one of four types of instruments:

  1. Strings – from violins (smallest and highest in pitch) to double basses (largest and lowest in pitch), with violas and cellos in between. These musicians sit directly in front of the conductor and make up more than half the orchestra.
  2. Woodwinds – Flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and similar instruments. These players sit a few rows back from the conductor, in the centre of the orchestra.
  3. Brass – Trumpets, horns, trombones, tubas and similar instruments. As these instruments are the loudest, they are at the back of the orchestra.
  4. Percussion – Drums, bells, and other instruments that are hit, struck, plucked or rubbed. This includes the tympani, the harp, and the piano. This section is often also at the back of the orchestra.

Why are there musicians onstage playing before the concert starts?

Performers arrive on stage early to “warm up” their minds and muscles long before the concert starts.

Why are there are more stringed instruments than anything else?

There are more stringed instruments because each one is softer than a brass or woodwind instrument. Together and in large numbers, these stringed instruments create a rich sound.

How do all the musicians tune before the concert starts?

All the musicians tune their instrument to the tone of the oboe, which is easy for everyone to hear.  The oboe plays the note “A,” and all the players make sure their “A” is exactly on the same pitch as the oboe’s “A”.