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Where do you think is the best place to sit?

Orchestra: That and what seating arrangement for orchestras do you like best?

From Daniel H
Posted June 26, 2006 at 05:02 AM

I just started going to concerts again, and I was just wondering where the best place to sit is (that's not a balcony seat). Today I got an center aisle seat, N5, Benaroya's "prime orchestra" seats, and it was really nice. I got to see the entire orchestra, until a huge tree sat in front of me and impeded my vision for the rest of the performance. At least he seemed like a nice guy to his wife.

Anyways, I was just wondering what really are the "best seats" and seating arrangement for the orchestra. I don't know if this is a modern orchestra thing, but the Seattle Symphony Orchestra has a seating kind of like:

| W I N D S |
|Cellos| |Violas|
|1st Violins| |Conductor| |2nd Violins|

Now I don't know if that makes a lot of sense, but we tried that in middle school and I hated it! we usually had the 2nd violins sitting where the cellos are to have their f-holes pointing toward the crowed. It only really throws me off because when they were playing Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, the violins didn't really seem synchronized; the 2nds seemed to lag behind. It could have been acoustics or I just didn't listen properly.

This is only a discussion of what you think. I haven't gone to too many concerts so I'm not well educated in professional orchestras.

Thanks,

Dan

From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on June 26, 2006 at 05:38 AM
Sitting principal is a great experience for a number of reasons. If I'm not sitting principal (which I haven't for a long time), I don't really give a damn because the seatings can be pretty meaningless and political. If money's involved, obviously I'd want to be near the front with an endowed seat.
From Kevin Huang
Posted on June 26, 2006 at 05:52 AM
I like the seating arrangements used by orchestras. In fact, they work so well that I wouldn't change a thing.

Basically the strings are organized as a "string quartet" around the conductor. The winds and brass are placed back in order of volume. The bass section is joined up with the cellos to augment the sound, since they're often playing the same stuff.

As a section violinist, my favorite seat is 2nd violin outer seat, 2nd or 3rd stand. Since the 1st and 2nd violins are usually coordinated, I like being sandwiched between a 1st violin to my right and a 2nd to my left. I've got players ahead and behind me, so I'm getting pulled along by everybody while still making my contribution.

Oddly enough, I've had the most trouble playing and keeping time as the concertmaster! You don't have anybody to your right or in front of you, and it's hard to keep tabs on what the section is doing. In college and high school, the conductors would put me in the last chair in order to make sure the players ahead of me were in synch. I didn't mind sitting back there (all orchestral seats are equal to me from an ego standpoint, at least in a nonpaying situation) and the sound was more evened out since I tended to be the strongest player in the unit and could play "out" from the back without offending anybody.

As far as hall seats go, that totally depends on the hall and orchestra. I tend to want to sit to the middle of the hall so that I can see everything.

From Stephen Mayhew
Posted on June 26, 2006 at 05:29 PM
Oops. Technical error. I wish we could delete posts here.
From Stephen Mayhew
Posted on June 26, 2006 at 05:26 PM
Our local symphony has the same seating as desrcibed above. That's funny. It is kind of unusual.

Gennady Filimonov plays in the Seattle Symphony. Maybe he has a comment on the seating of the symphony?


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