Definition of orchestra in US English:



  • 1A group of instrumentalists, especially one combining string, woodwind, brass, and percussion sections and playing classical music.

    • ‘The scoring is for a simple classical orchestra, strings, double woodwind, four horns and two trumpets.’
    • ‘It is as if the string section of the orchestra suddenly decided to play its own music, disregarding everyone else.’
    • ‘It supports a concert choir, a concert band and an orchestra.’
    • ‘Born in China, Jennifer is a member of the Columbus Symphony Cadet orchestra and is principal flutist at Jones Middle School.’
    • ‘The brass section of an orchestra typically consists of trumpets, horns, trombones, and tubas.’
    • ‘Numbering more than 15,000, Boosey publications are a staple for serious musicians of all instruments, and for concert bands, orchestras and choirs.’
    • ‘My father believed there would be more openings for a violin player in an orchestra because the string section was bigger than any other.’
    • ‘The competition is open to all brass players under the age of 21, of Grade 8 or equivalent standard, who play regularly with a brass or wind band or orchestra.’
    • ‘The orchestra was founded in 1951 by eight soloists from the most highly respected Viennese orchestras and chamber music ensembles.’
    • ‘He also studied the violin with Felix Niolan, concert-master of the Opéra orchestra.’
    • ‘With a thriving orchestra, wind-band, ensembles and choirs, and a full range of instrument lessons on offer, music is well represented in the school.’
    • ‘The result is not the sound of a piano but the sound of a whole percussion orchestra.’
    • ‘The first half of the programme will consist of the choir and orchestra performing Schubert's Mass in G, for which they will be joined by soprano Evelyn Nicholson.’
    • ‘They are joined by anything from sweeping strings to a full orchestra with brass and a mass of subtle percussion.’
    • ‘Calfe also is active in her high school marching, concert and jazz bands, orchestra and percussion ensemble.’
    • ‘As the dark tones of the opening gave way to the big tunes and the triumphant outbursts of brass and percussion the orchestra sounded confident and technically in control of Dvorak's patriotic music.’
    • ‘The orchestra's brass section will open each concert with A Fanfare For The Ancient Kingdom, a piece composed in conjunction with local schools.’
    • ‘Sibelius Instruments is a unique, interactive encyclopedia of instruments, bands, orchestras and ensembles.’
    • ‘Sandström uses a large orchestra, including many percussion instruments and an organ.’
    • ‘Conklin has performed as a violin soloist with numerous orchestras including the Louisville, Nashville and Berlin Symphony Orchestras.’
  • 2The part of a theater where the orchestra plays, typically in front of the stage and on a lower level than the audience.

    • ‘Six principal string players (two violins, two violas, and two cellos) had left their places in the orchestra pit and now took their seats on the stage for the overture.’
    • ‘The current facility, a traditional black-box theater in Alice Pratt Brown Hall, accommodates only 200 and has a small orchestra pit and stage.’
    • ‘Next week's production of The Wizard Of Oz will involve more than 100 participants, aged seven to 21, on stage and backstage and in the orchestra pit.’
    • ‘Suddenly, the front wheel that was supporting the castle went skidding across the stage and landed in the orchestra pit.’
    • ‘This could be lowered for an orchestra pit; raised to match the floor level just in front of the stage, where it could support three rows of seating; or raised further to the stage's level, increasing its frontal floor area.’
    • ‘There is even an orchestra pit, quite unusual for auditoriums at home.’
    • ‘This evening, though, Davis will make his debut in the orchestra pit at Richard Wagner's Bayreuth festival theatre in Bavaria, conducting the composer's 1850 work, Lohengrin.’
    • ‘He's been keeping her in the orchestra pit under the stage all this time.’
    • ‘Simply put, the system divides the orchestra pit into ten acoustical zones and the stage into fourteen, each governed by a directional microphone.’
    • ‘As part of the refurbishment, a new orchestra pit, accommodating up to 60 musicians, has been created, along with the construction of a new backstage block, incorporating dressing rooms, and an increase in the height of the flytower.’
    • ‘Word is Adams fell nearly six feet into the orchestra pit at Liverpool's Royal Court theatre, badly fracturing his wrist, injuring his leg and cutting his lip.’
    • ‘‘There is a give-and-take between what happens on stage and what happens in the orchestra pit,’ he added.’
    • ‘And the orchestra pit at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre was being used for the first time.’
    • ‘During an orchestra rehearsal for New York City Ballet, Christopher Wheeldon rushes onto the stage from the audience, nimbly maneuvering over a narrow strip between the proscenium and the orchestra pit.’
    • ‘Another door at the far end led into the orchestra pit under the stage.’
    • ‘He led the foursome to seats in the balcony above the orchestra pit - the perfect place to sit and see and hear everything.’
    • ‘This corresponded to the front of the orchestra pit.’
    • ‘The fact that neither hall has an orchestra pit created unique problems of stagecraft for the directors.’
    • ‘A special focus on the performing arts is evidenced in the public wing of the building, which includes a 1030-seat auditorium with a recessed orchestra pit and full fly loft.’
    • ‘The theater also contains a full fly tower and is outfitted with a control suite, catwalks, spotlights, and an orchestra pit.’
    1. 2.1North American The seats on the ground floor in a theater.
  • 3The semicircular space in front of an ancient Greek theater stage where the chorus danced and sang.

    • ‘An exceptional feature of the theatre is the fact that a small stream was channelled through the space between the orchestra and the back of the proscenium.’


Early 17th century: via Latin from Greek orkhēstra, from orkheisthai ‘to dance’.