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The Greatest Orchestras


zinomaniac
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Which are the greatest of today's symphony orchestras? In the '50s and '60s there were the "Big Five" in the U.S. - New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland. In Europe the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Phil, and Concertgebow of Amsterdam have long and distinguished histories. I have recently heard the orchestras of St. Louis and San Francisco and thought they were both terrific. Has anyone had any notably great or poor orchestral concert listening experiences recently?

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I recently had a wonderful experience. My orchestra (made up of high school and college students) played a concert with the Florida Philharmonic. It was quite fun and we did Firebird and I though it was fantastic. Your playing level really goes up when you are playing next to better players.

About the major orchestras, I know that the Philadelphia Orchestra is known to have a fabulous string section.

I also know that the Cleveland Orchestra has a very strong viola section. What section could be stronger than one led by Bob Vernon?

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By full-time I'm thinking of orchestras that play a 52-week season. They're more likely to have recording contracts, European tours, and other such perks. For musicians, there also tends to be a substantial salary gap between the 52-week orchestras and orchestras with shorter seasons.

Canada has a number of fine orchestras too, but I don't know how their season schedules break down.

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I was thinking the same thing. I know our local orchestra, the Florida Orchestra, is full time, as is the Florida Philharmonic in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area.

What about:

Boston

Seattle

Colorado (Denver)

Also, "full-time" is not black and white. Several orchestras that used to be per-service only now have a "full-time core", with some musicians being full-time and the rest per-service.

quote:

Originally posted by fluffywaffletoes:

I'm curious now... what defines a "full time" orchestra?

Because I'm thinking of a few orchestras that are not on Shetland's list and yet would seem to be full time to me.

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quote:

Originally posted by shetland:

San Diego recently received a $100 million donation so they might very well become a major orchestra in the next few years.

[This message has been edited by shetland (edited 03-24-2002).]

[This message has been edited by shetland (edited 03-24-2002).]

You wanna bet? You have to replace most of the people in the band first. Not gonna happen.

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In Canada, the two best orchestras are Montreal and Toronto. If Toronto wasn't in such a bad financial situation, they could be easily within the top 10 in North America. But, because they've come close to bankrupsy (sp?) pretty bad this past half year, its really broughten down their feeling. Also, if there was more money, they'd be great because of the new renovations Roy Thompson Hall is getting... I swear, i've never seen a more beautiful re-design in my life; In northern Toronto (called North York), the Toronto Centre of the Arts has a hall called "George Weston Recital Hall" and its has the best acoustics i've ever heard. Why is this important? The same people who did G.W. are doing Roy Thompson, so everybody is expecting a wonderful turnout. I have the honor, along with our youth symphony (Toronto S. Y. O.) to perform there as our concert hall for our performances, our last major one of which is on April second, next Tuesady!

laugh.giflaugh.giflaugh.giflaugh.gif

P

[This message has been edited by paganiniboy (edited 03-24-2002).]

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quote:

Originally posted by HuangKaiVun:

I'll take Sergiu Celibidache and the groups he conducted.

That is very interesting, very important, very inspiring, very timely, very whatever.

WTF are you talking about? I thought the thread was about current American Bands, not European Conductors.He shat his bed already.

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The original post did ask for "current" groups, but the 50s/60s were mentioned and the post asked for "notably great or poor orchestral concert listening experiences recently".

I first heard Celibidache on CD about 3 years ago and was utterly bowled over. As far as I was concerned, THAT was the way music was supposed to be played.

Celibidache appeared with "2nd rate" orchestras (according to a biographer), but he managed to make them all sound like HIS group.

Admittedly, Celibidache has passed away. But in today's CD era, EVERYTHING is "current".

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Of course I'm biased, but I think it would be hard to beat our local Cleveland band for its combination of virtuosity, precision, clarity, and beautifully blended tone (together with more warmth nowadays than in the fabled Szell era, aided by the enhanced acoustics of the superbly renovated Severance Hall.) Next fall the Vienna Philharmonic will be visiting us- that should make for an interesting comparison!

The violas, and particularly Vernon, are certainly a special treat- this season we got to hear Don Quixote with Geber (principal cello) and Vernon as the absolutely wonderful soloists. It's hard to imagine a more delightful Sancho Panza than Vernon!

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Don't laugh if I'm wrong, but I thought that the Oregon Symphony with James Depriest was 52-week?

I guess I'm also pretty biased, but I have to say that Cleveland is my favorite American orchestra. I heard them play Scheherezade with Bill Preucil as the soloist- after hearing that performance, I realized that an orchestra couldn't really be "better" than that.

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I’m not sure that 52 week contracts always attract the best musicians. If you look at salaries and cost of living, some big prestige orchestras may not pay as well in terms of a living standard. Ohio isn’t a high cost of living state so the Cleveland and Cincinnati people do very well. Columbus isn’t an expensive place to live but it isn’t a very cosmopolitan city either.

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