What is an Orchestra?

An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus.

The orchestra grew by accretion throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, but changed very little in composition during the course of the 20th century.

A smaller-sized orchestra for this time period (of about fifty players or fewer) is called a chamber orchestra. A full-size orchestra (about 100 players) may sometimes be called a “symphony orchestra” or “philharmonic orchestra”; these modifiers do not necessarily indicate any strict difference in either the instrumental constitution or role of the orchestra, but can be useful to distinguish different ensembles based in the same city.

A symphony orchestra will usually have over eighty musicians on its roster, in some cases over a hundred, but the actual number of musicians employed in a particular performance may vary according to the work being played and the size of the venue. A leading chamber orchestra might employ as many as fifty musicians; some are much smaller than that. Orchestras can also be found in schools.

The Hallé gave its first orchestral concert on 30th January 1858 and stayed in its original venue, The Free Trade Hall until 30th June 1996 where it then moved to a new purpose built facility at The Bridgewater Hall.

The Hallé @ Giggleswick Outdoor Picnic Concert will be the first large outdoor event Hallé have done in Yorkshire and it will be exactly 16 years to the day that the Hallé Orchestra left the Free Trade Hall for pastures new.