Orchestra 101: Chairs

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As I began working on a final article for this series I realized I had missed an important topic that to a pro seems really obvious but may be off the radar for many readers, the topic of chairs. As in types of chairs and also when you can (or should) be in them before a service.

Orchestral players expect comfortable chairs to sit in. The chairs you see used in concert halls are not cheap but make a huge difference over the course of sitting there for three hours!

There are several types of chairs out there but the line made by Wenger is pretty standard. They make chairs at different heights and also cellist chairs. I mention these specifically as I am sure that one of my former colleagues in Nashville (no longer in the orchestra) had negotiated into their contract that they, a non-cellist, would have a Wenger cellist chair at every service they played. So the crew had to be sure to bring a cellist chair for that individual to every service.

There were other chairs that were special chairs the crew had worked up for individuals over the years that were used at the main concert and rehearsal venue. These chairs were standard chairs that had been shortened for several of the more let us say more petite individuals in the group, and they were marked with names for those individuals.

The tip being, if you are playing extra in an orchestra and really would like a shorter or different type of chair, ask the crew nicely if they have any. They set the stage up over and over and may actually have one that is not in use.

When you can be in the chair is part II of this post. I could not find any contract language on this topic in my old Nashville contract I have been referencing but it is stated that at run-outs the bus will arrive at least a half hour before the service. My memory is that the stage was always set a half hour before and we could access the stage freely from that point forward to warm up. You were required to be at the venue ten minutes before the service and in your chair five minutes before or you were subject to fines or other action.

With that statement it leads me into a final topic which will be addressed further in the final article in this series as originally mapped out next week.

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