About the Flexible Orchestra

Flexible Orchestra

Founded in 2003 by Daniel Goode
First concert: April 30, 2004
Conductor: Tara Simoncic

a new idea for a real orchestral sound with rotating instrumentation

“I think the idea of the flexible orchestra is an excellent one. (maybe 12 violas next time?) and I enjoyed your piece, it had grace — a quality in short supply these days! it was just, well, pleasurable listening to the instruments as they played together”

— David Behrman, composer, 2005

“It’s an orchestra.”
         — JD Parran, clarinetist/saxophonist, 2013

“Lovely music.”
        — Christian Wolff, composer, 2012

we can surmount the rigidity of the historical orchestra with a section of one instrumental family plus a smattering of others; changing every year or two!

A re-forming of the symphony orchestra so that a group of, say 15-20 musicians through strategic instrumentation has an orchestral sound: both the “mass” and the variety. For example: 10 trombones, 2 clarinets, 2 double basses, piano, percussion (the 2007 orchestra)

The Flexible Orchestra principles:

1)    It should sound like an orchestra. That means at least one—probably only one—section of multiples of a single instrumental type. And like an orchestra there are also different timbres from a few other instruments used both for contrast and emphasis.

2)    It should have flexible orchestration, meaning it should change its section of multiples and the contrasting group of instruments every so often, let’s say every year or two, not every two hundred years (and more) as with the official Western orchestra.

3)    It must be economical, that is, accomplish its sound concept at a reasonable cost. So if the Flexible Orchestra caps at fifteen players, there might be twelve for the section of multiples and three for the contrasting group; or perhaps eleven and four, etc.

4)    Such a type of orchestra could spring up anywhere and make use of the instrumental strengths of a community or geographical area. Let’s say San Francisco proper has a surfeit of double basses, while the Peninsula has lots of violas; Cincinnati may have many trumpets. Those could be the multiples in each of these communities that make up cores of flexible orchestras in each place.

For the genesis and theoretical background of the Flexible Orchestra please see Letter from Vienna (1999), part 3, The Problem of the Orchestra.