What Is a Community Orchestra?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
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  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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A community orchestra is a group of musicians that play instruments for small regions, or communities. They have the same basic composition as an ordinary orchestra, with individuals specializing in different instrument types. Community orchestras, however, tend to be smaller in size. These groups often work in partnership with other regional organizations to provide musical offerings.

In general terms, an orchestra comprises a group of instrument-playing musicians led by a conductor. A typical orchestra is divided into sections that focus on specific types of instruments. These sections usually include the following instrument types: brass, woodwind, string, and percussion. Violins, trumpets, and drums are a few examples of the instruments found in orchestras. Each section typically plays in harmony, and the entire unit is directed by an individual known as a conductor.

Sizes for these ensembles range from chamber orchestras, small groups of 50 or less, to much larger symphony orchestras or philharmonc orchestras. These latter types routinely contain over 100 members. A community orchestra will likely be on the lower end of members.

The types of music produced by a community orchestra may vary widely. Classical and jazz are two common forms taken on by orchestras. Others may specialize in various genres that reflect the musical tastes of the community. For example, a community orchestra in the American south might use instruments and styles prominent in country and bluegrass music.


As part of efforts to promote the arts, community orchestras are often supported by non-profit organizations, fund-raising, and donations. For example, a higher education institution might provide the orchestra with a venue and instruments. Many times, the organizations and members of the orchestra share expenses, as well as promotional and administrative duties.

Typically, the community orchestra has one main venue, such as one of the aforementioned institutions. They will do perform at different locations, however, in order to better reach the local community. Promotion may take place via local media outlets, fliers, or grassroots word-of-mouth advertising.

Advocates for community orchestras tout many benefits. For one, these musical groups offer access to the performing arts for small communities with no access to to larger orchestras. They can also offer entertainment for a lower price. The community orchestra also provides local and less experienced musicians with the opportunity to hone their craft.


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