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How Do I Hire an Orchestra?

An orchestra consists of several different sections of instruments.
Orchestras, or individual musicians, may be hired privately.
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  • Written By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Images By: Oliver.wolf, Kirvinic
  • Last Modified Date: 20 July 2014
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Hiring a professional orchestra is a simple process that involves understanding the music to be performed and getting in contact with the person or people who coordinate the orchestra's events. Whether or not a person is able to hire an orchestra depends on the schedule of the group. The hiring individual or organization also must be able to afford whatever fee the orchestra charges for rehearsals and the final concert.

When a person wants to hire an orchestra, he first must look at the music to be performed. Some music, such as music scored for chamber orchestra, does not require every member normally working within the orchestra. The person who hires the orchestra must pay a fee that covers the time of each musician who ends up playing, so it is important to be precise about the kind of music on the orchestra program so the orchestra can respond with a fee estimate and make arrangements with the correct players.

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Usually, an orchestra has a manager or director who is responsible for organizing the orchestra's appearances, although some directors pull double duty and manage their orchestras in addition to conducting. This person acts as a liaison between the orchestra director, representatives of performance venues and the person hiring the orchestra. The second step to take to hire an orchestra is to contact the orchestra manager and express interest in securing the orchestra's services. The orchestra manager checks the events already on the orchestra calendar. If the orchestra is free on the date required by the hiring individual, he alerts the orchestra director that the orchestra has a hire request.

Once the orchestra director knows that someone wants the orchestra to play, he may announce the invitation to the orchestra members. He then may ask the members how many individuals would be able to commit to the rehearsals and concert. If too many of the orchestra's members are unavailable, the director usually declines the invitation, but he may tell the manager that the orchestra would be available on a different date if the hiring individual is able to change his schedule. In many professional orchestras, the director makes the executive decision whether or not to accept the invitation on behalf of the orchestra and orchestra members are expected to adjust their own schedules accordingly, since players understand that their position with the orchestra requires an availability commitment.

If the director accepts the invitation for hire, the hiring individual pays whatever fee the orchestra currently has. Rates can be several hundred to several thousand US Dollars, depending on the number of rehearsals and concerts requested and how many members of the orchestra must be present. The expense required to hire an orchestra is the primary reason why most aspiring musicians do not routinely hire their own orchestras, instead working to achieve a level of professional musicianship that warrants an invitation from the director to perform with the orchestra.

Even though it is expensive for a person to hire an orchestra, orchestras make it easy to do so because they want public exposure and have their own expenses to cover, such as the cost of the director's salary, rehearsal space, travel and sheet music. They frequently tell members of the public how to request orchestra services on programs, the orchestras' websites and advertisements in arts-related publications. They usually provide a website URL, the phone number or email address of the director or manager and an explanation of what and where the orchestra can play. There also are some websites designed to match hiring individuals to available orchestras, and directors may opt to list their orchestras on these sites.

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