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Kinds of Concerts

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.

Introduction to Classical Music
  Music Categories
  Musical Instruments
  History of Classical Music
  Discover the Classics
     Vol. 1 | Vol. 2 | Vol. 3 | Vol. 4

Glossary of Musical Terms

A-Z of Opera
  Synopses of Opera
  Index of Operas by Composer
  Opera Libretti

How To Enjoy A Live Concert
  A Note from the Author
  The Listener's Job Description
  Part 1: Before the Concert
  Choosing a Concert 
Kinds of Concerts 
Styles of Presentation: Formal, Informal, and Beyond 
Buying a Ticket
Sections of the Theater 
Getting Ready 
Getting There 
  Part 2: At the Concert
  "Concert Manners" 
The Concert Ritual 
Reading the Program 
Instruments of the Orchestra 
Ways to Listen 
Meeting the Performers 
Essential Life Support 
  A Brief Glossary

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