Our A to Z of Carnegie Hall series continues today with the letter O–for "Orchestra."
In its 120-year history, Carnegie Hall has played host to artists who represent just about every genre and sub-genre of music. The type of music and musician that the Hall is probably most closely associated with, however, are orchestras and orchestral music.
"How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice," goes the old joke. Another way to improve your chances of performing at Carnegie Hall is to join an orchestra.
More than 1,500 different orchestras are recorded in our concert database as having performed in the Hall. Including full symphonic orchestras, chamber orchestras, and string orchestras, these range from high school ensembles to the most famous symphonies in the world.
The New York Philharmonic holds the record for most appearances by an orchestra at Carnegie Hall, with more than 5,000 performances to date—or about 10% of all performances since the Hall opened. While all of the finest north American orchestras have performed here, other orchestras that have appeared many hundreds of times at the Hall include The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Orchestras have traveled from all over the world—the London Symphony Orchestra, Japan's Saito Kinen Orchestra, Germany's Berliner Philharmoniker, Austria's Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Venezuela's Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Ireland, the Mariinsky Orchestra from St. Petersburg, Fathy Salama's Cairo Orchestra from Egypt, the Mongolian Morin Khuur Orchestra, and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra (which itself, came from all corners of the world) to name a tiny fraction of the international ensembles that have appeared here.
In addition, we've had many specialized orchestras perform at the Hall. These have included balalaika orchestras, a Greek mandolin orchestra, a harp orchestra, theremin orchestras, marimba ensembles, a banjo orchestra, and a ukulele orchestra. The first time jazz was heard at Carnegie Hall was when James Reese Europe and his Clef Club Orchestra presented a "Concert of Negro Music" to benefit the Music School Settlement in May 1912.
Orchestras such as Les Violons du Roy, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Venice Baroque Orchestra, The English Concert, and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique specialize in performing early music or period performance. On the other end of the time continuum, the American Composers Orchestra and Alarm Will Sound bring only contemporary and brand new music to the Hall. Pops orchestras have included The New York Pops, Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, and Moscow Pops.
Over the past few decades, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as been a regular visitor to Carnegie Hall. Its specialization? Performing without a conductor. Orpheus has an early antecedent. The American Symphonic Ensemble—which later changed its name to Conductorless Symphony Orchestra—first performed here in 1928.
We've even had the Electric Light Orchestra.
RelatedA to Z of Carnegie HallThe Rose MuseumThe History of the Hall