Anne Midgette: Qualities To Look For in A Great Orchestra

WHAT’S IN THIS VIDEO: There are the technical things – the tuning, the richness of sound, the ability to play together. Does something sound thin versus sounding rich? But there’s something even more important – how does an orchestra engage with its audience. Even those who haven’t heard many orchestras can feel the difference.



  1. Meredith says:

    One thing I’m curious about is the etiquette for standing ovations. I live in a smaller town, and play in both a professional and a community orchestra. Virtually everything either orchestra does gets a standing ovation! Occasionally I feel they are deserved, such as when we have a remarkable guest soloist or tackle a truly demanding piece with gusto. But most of the time I feel that people get to their feet out of habit (sometimes on their way to leave!), because the people in front of them are standing, or because they enjoyed the concert and haven’t experienced a higher tier of “greatness” for comparison. Has anyone else experienced this? What moves you to stand and applaud?

    • Rebecca says:

      I stand and applaud for various reasons depending upon the orchestra and venue. Admittedly I have participated in standing ovations because the people in front of me stood up, especially during the first few performances that I went to. Sometimes I’m caught up in the excitement of going to the performance and stand up because I’m just so happy to have been able to hear the music. Other times I stand up because I felt that the music really was outstanding.

      In the case of community orchestras I often stand up because I know someone in the orchestra. In this case, whether the performance was truly spectacular or not I still stand up out of respect for my friend. They have given me the gift of hearing them play, so the least I can do is support them with a standing ovation.

      There has only been one time where I went to a performance and stood up even though I truly felt that the musicians didn’t deserve a standing ovation. In this particular instance I stood up because the musicians had obviously spent a long time rehearsing and seemed really happy with their performance (as could be seen by the huge smiles on their faces). I felt that standing up would give them more confidence and hopefully encourage them to keep working and try to perform even better the next time.

  2. I agree that the standing ovation has gotten out of hand. Some in the audience will leap to their feet to show their enthusiasm even when they have obviously not been listening. Some seem to think they deserve a stretch. Some think it will hurry up their departure. It does detract from the standing ovation as a response to a.rare electrifying experience.
    It is a question of etiquette. Maybe a note on the program?

  3. I agree that you don’t always need to know why or how you got the goose bumps. Music can go right to our very souls whether we know anything about it (the music) or not. However, music, and the whole process, really becomes enjoyable on a whole different level when we starting trying to figure out the whys and hows!

  4. I think this video sums up the beauty of the course: for orchestra “newbies” like me, it’s a “way in” to the performance, which gives access to both the objective, technical elements and also to one’s own experience and engagement with the orchestra.

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