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Music for small orchestra


geoff1954
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I play in a small community orchestra. The standard is okay but we are short of brass players. No trumpets or trombones or timps. Can anyone suggest suitable pieces of music which would match our instruments? (Music for a string orchestra is not suitable, unfortunately, because our woodwind section would be upset.)

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I don't know how good/strong your horn section is, so that's a factor.

 

Many of Beethoven and Mozart's early symphonies don't require much in the way of brass, though it depends on the symphony.

 

This one might be unfamiliar, but the Czech composer Vitezslav Novak wrote two serenades for smaller orchestra. The one in D major only uses trumpet in the fourth movement, not entirely sure about the F major one. It does require four horns though. Also, Robert Fuchs wrote his fourth and fifth serenades for small orchestra.

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I have been a member of a small (30 piece maximum) conductor-less chamber orchestra since 2012, when it was founded. Almost all of the music we have played (and performed) was downloaded from IMSLP.org. I suggest starting there and see what fits your instrumentation.

We have been charging our player-members $25 per month to pay our concertmaster a nominal "honorarium." We have also raised enough money to purchase a Mozartly-sufficient set of tympani and we have managed to get a harpist to join with us when needed. (We are fortunate to be in the near "suburbs" of San Francisco which is rich in classical musicians and we draw on musicians from the other sides of 2 bridges.)

Before COVID we gave 3 to 5 performances annually. Monetary donations at our performances have gone to humanitarian charities of the local church where we have performed. Our rehearsals and some of our performances were at a community center until they started rehabilitation construction over 3 years ago. During the summers we continued weekly rehearsals and tried "new" music to figure out the next season and to give members and others, who so wished, a chance to solo with an orchestra. Some of those solos later became part of our concert schedule.

We are the Lucas Vallley Chamber Orchestra and one of our performances might still be viewable on YouTube.   EDIT: I guess not -just checked and the full length performance that was semi-professionally recorded is no longer there but some snippets of other performances are.

With the exception of one well-attended "rehearsal" in June 2021 we have not met since March 10, 2020. We were planning to resume "post-COVID" rehearsals in April (next month) but a survey of email responses predicts a serious decline in leader-capable violinists and milder declines in violists and cellists - our wonderful wind blowers have remained firmly in the fold.

Wish us luck. If you are near us consider joining. We are mostly older people and rehearse on Tuesday mornings

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On 3/16/2022 at 10:51 AM, Andrew Victor said:

we have not met since March 10, 2020. We were planning to resume "post-COVID" rehearsals in April (next month) but a survey of email responses predicts a serious decline in leader-capable violinists

Haha.  I wish I was there, or maybe not.  I wish I was there for the views of the bay and the salt in the nostrils.  Covid has been an existential (they say that word on TV lots now) disruption in some places, and it was all ignored in others.  It looks like the medical result was about the same either way.  Whatever was being existentially threatened probably fared pretty badly though

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Might not be a good time to mention one of my favourite 'jokes':  The one about the guy waiting to be rescued by God and turns down being rescued by three other groups of people...finally he says "God, why have you forsaken me?  And God replies "I sent two boats and a helicopter!  What more do you want?"

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May I suggest you make a small investment in something like Daniels' Orchestral Music. They just released the 7th edition. It lists music by composer and the instrumentation, who publishes the work, timings, and one of the appendices even lists works by instrumentation. It would be very valuable to you.

 

Jim

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The community orchestra I play in uses ringers for percussion and occasionally other instruments.  We get these players from the local university where music students often are glad of opportunities to play.  We have to pay these ringers but, since usually they come for only two rehearsals plus the concert, a small contribution by all the orchestra members takes care of that.  The regular players find it interesting enough to rehearse without, say, percussion for most of the rehearsals.

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On 3/24/2022 at 1:05 PM, reedman said:

May I suggest you make a small investment in something like Daniels' Orchestral Music. They just released the 7th edition. It lists music by composer and the instrumentation, who publishes the work, timings, and one of the appendices even lists works by instrumentation. It would be very valuable to you.

 

Jim

Also this

https://www.amazon.com/Accessible-Orchestral-Repertoire-Annotated-Orchestras/dp/1442275790

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