For hundreds of years, the orchestra has been one of the most prestigious forms of live music. A group of musicians playing music that can only be heard in its full brilliance in this sort of large setup is an incredible experience that simply can’t be replicated at home. Naturally, there are hundreds of different orchestras around the world to satiate anyone’s desire to enjoy this ancient form of music.
Ranking the greatest orchestras is not the easiest task to have. Many of today’s orchestras are brilliant in their composition, sound quality, and technical ability. It is extremely desirable amongst classical musicians to be part of a great orchestra, so there is plenty of talent to go around. What differs the top of the pile from the rest can almost seem subtle when talked about, but goes a long way when put in to practice. Magnificent examples of this can be found in all of the following orchestras, a few of my top picks for their genius.
The LA Philharmonic
Starting in the USA, one of the most innovative orchestras in the world has its home in the City of Angels. The LA Phil historically made their name with an extensive repertoire, being prepared to play an incredible range of classic and contemporary pieces, pretty much since its conception. They have adapted over the years to build on this strength by delving into more and more genres, many you wouldn’t often attribute to an orchestra.
In recent years, they have expanded into the world of pop music, covering and being featured in a surprising amount of pop hits. Their signature style compliments pop music brilliantly and they have even demonstrated this by playing in concert alongside Katy Perry.
The London Symphony Orchestra
Heading over to England, the LSO is an incredibly highly skilled orchestra that has proven its ability to play any piece of music, regardless of its complexity or nuance. This has been exemplified in pop culture with their frequent and breath-taking use on film scores, being used frequently to play music composed by the legendary John Williams.
They are well known for their extreme work ethic, where each member is ready to play regardless of the time or how exhausted they are and still achieve their famous world-class precision. As a result, they are perhaps one of the most widely heard orchestras, even if most who have heard them don’t know it (which is an incredible feat in its own right!)
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
While we are in London, I couldn’t possibly move on without mentioning the OAE. They are unique in many ways, but the most immediate one is their lack of a permanent conductor. Instead, they work with guest conductors or simply elect a principal musician to lead them while they weave their incredible music.
They also have extreme attention to detail when they play one of their carefully chosen compositions. The OAE is dedicated to proving its name and prides itself on using period-appropriate instruments as much as possible, bringing an incredible authenticity to their music which can almost never be heard in the same way due to the rarity of many of the instruments they take advantage of.
The Berlin Philharmonic
One of the most famous orchestras, and one to reach the top of many people’s lists, is the Berlin Philharmonic. They are known for their outwardly recognizable composition, prioritizing an amount of passion in their players which may be unmatched in the orchestra scene. They have been known in three centuries for their electrifying energy as they play and for their equally impressive technical speed.
The Berlin Phil is one of the old-school greats that refuse to stop raising the bar, as they join modern greats in expanding their repertoire from the traditional classical pieces. They have more recently started bringing their incredible zest to more and more unique and contemporary pieces, showing an ambition to define the world of the extravagant orchestra for years to come.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Back in the USA, the CSO proves that there is no excuse to play at anything other than the best of your ability, no matter the circumstances. They play over 100 concerts each year, an almost insane frequency for a professional orchestra to play. Regardless, they are world-renowned for their skill in performance and have won over 60 Grammies for their recordings.
Chicago seems unable to stop playing at the top of its game. With so many full shows a year, anyone would expect them to slow down at some point, but they are to this day known for their unparalleled brass sound which brings the incomparable body to any piece they play.
Their talented musicians are also able to play in many styles, which is a rare feature of an orchestra, but this enables them to play music in the style of the pieces origin, a diversity in one orchestra which is hard to find.
The Vienna Philharmonic
Finishing with one of the oldest currently surviving orchestras in the world, the Vienna Phil has seemingly always been around through the west’s classical history. They have played for dozens of high profile celebrities over the decades and successfully represent the grandiose idea o an orchestra many envision in their mind. Many know them best for their annual New Year concert which is broadcast to millions every year and helps spread the word that orchestras are more alive than ever.
Now you’re in the mood for some classical music, there’s no better time to stop mulling over pianoforall reviews and get your keyboard out. With enough practice, you could one day play amongst the titans in the orchestral music world and feel the magnificence of such organized music from within.