A Recital usually shows off one particular musician,
frequently a pianist or somebody accompanied by
a pianist. There are other kinds of recitals, though:
a Duo Recital, in which two people share equal
billing, or a recital by a group.
Chamber Music is generally a small group of
musicians performing without a conductor. The
String Quartet (two violins, a viola, and a cello) is
probably the most popular combination. Another
popular grouping is a Piano Trio (not three
pianos, but one piano playing with a violin and
a cello). There are lots of other combinations:
wind groups, vocal groups, percussion groups,
mixed groups. Often one group will play a
whole concert by itself, but some chamber music
concerts include a few different combinations of
players and/or singers.
A Chamber Orchestra is a small-sized orchestra,
from ten to forty players. The orchestra will vary
in size depending on the music being played.
Some chamber orchestra concerts use only string
instruments, but often there are other instruments
as well. Usually chamber orchestras are led by a
conductor, but there are some exciting exceptions.
A Symphony Orchestra (or Philharmonic
Orchestra) is a large orchestra— it may have
eighty or more players, with all the families
of instruments: strings, woodwinds, brasses,
percussion, and often harp and piano. An
orchestra of this size has a conductor, and usually
will feature a guest artist to play or sing with the
orchestra. Sometimes a chorus is added.
Choral Music has a wonderful variety. Some is
sung a capella, without any accompaniment—by
human voices alone. Other choral music
is accompanied by piano, or by groups of
instruments, or by an entire orchestra. Choirs range
in size from chamber music groups of three or four
people to huge choirs of more than a hundred.
Opera and Dance have visual and theatrical
elements along with the music. The music might
be played by a full orchestra, or it might be
played by a smaller group, by a piano or two,
or by a pre-recorded tape. Be sure to find out
whether or not the music will be live!
Children’s Concerts and Family Concerts are
designed to be fun for children; they are shorter,
and happen during the daytime. Usually the
conductor or an emcee talks about the music.
Pops Concerts feature lighter classics and
popular music. Sometimes a celebrity from the
popular music world is a guest artist.
Sing-along Concerts invite audience
participation in a choral work like Handel’s Messiah.
House concerts are wonderfully intimate
performances for a small audience in a private
home. Some organizations put on house concerts
as fundraisers or as thank-you events for donors
and supporters. A few organizations specialize
in house concerts, and some music lovers build
special concert rooms for their houses.
Some performers use Period Instruments.
Musical instruments and styles, like everything
else in this world, keep changing. In period instrument
groups, performers use the kinds of
instruments, and the techniques of playing and
singing, that were in use when the composer
wrote the music.