An orchestra’s role in #worship

One of the most difficult things to plan for are orchestras in a worship gathering.

The music library takes a lot of work to pull off. If you have a 20 piece orchestra, at 5 songs for that week, and 2 pages of music per song — that’s 200 separate sheets of paper to get distributed and collected correctly.  That’s a huge task.  Fortunately, at our church we have an awesome volunteer orchestra librarian (Linda Gifford).

Finding tasteful orchestrations is difficult. I’ve heard lots of cheesy orchestral arrangements.  I’ve even written some of them.  But when it comes to orchestrations for worship environments, has it covered.

Determining availability of musicians is a challenge. We have a roster of 46 orchestral instrumentalists.  For the upcoming weekend, we have 20 confirmed, 13 unconfirmed, and 13 declines.  We use an awesome web app called Planning Center Online. This web app is a HUGE help to us in this regard.  Now, to get the musicians to simply accept or decline instead of remaining unconfirmed : )

Stage space can be a premium. Frankly, if all 46 orchestral instruments confirmed for a weekend — we’d have a problem.  So we can comfortably fit 20-25 instrumentalists on stage (30 uncomfortably).  Orchestra musicians take up a lot of room to move bows, slides — not to mention the flute position or tuba girth.

However, there are lots of pros to having an orchestra in a worship gathering.

Increased use of talent within the church. I joke sometimes (but serious) that I am God’s “talent broker” at the church.  My role is to figure out the best placement of talent in the church in order to make the value of the whole much larger than its individual parts.  An orchestra is a great way to accomplish this.

An orchestra can a particular weekend a completely different sound/feel, bringing variety. Some people have said they don’t enjoy the sound of an orchestra in worship.  That’s because they’ve experienced some bad orchestras in worship settings.  Out of tune orchestras can sound like cats in heat.  However, excellent orchestras (in tune, on time, musical) can really enhance the rhythm section.  Think Trans-Siberrian Orchestra, film score, or a Cold Play string quartet.

It’s a way to connect with musicians we wouldn’t connect with otherwise. Remember, relationships will always trump music.  Who cares about great music on their death bed?  The relationships we have with each other mean everything.  Without the orchestra, there’s no way I could connect with some of the following people.

Alto Sax
Kristen Jordan
Joyce Harris
Matthew Osborne
Ruth Osborne
Austin Abernathy
Sam Cho
Barb Blue
Amy Simpson
Anthony Roth
Arin Evans
Bekah Wolgast
Debbie Wolgast
Geri Turvey
Heather Mullins
Liz Dodds
Shawna Link
Chrissy Bolze
Linda Marling
Sarah Mellen
Anna Lischke
Tenor Sax
Bob Meissner
Don Petersen
Patrick Hill
Dylan Phillips
Angie Shelton
Dustin Fluke
Justin Shields
Kellie DeMill
Nat Diliberto
Connor Brantingham
Caitlin Givens
Alex Foster
Carrie Davidson
Christa Packard
Heidi Nelson
Jessica Elliott
Krista Wolgast
Megan Poppe
Melody Buford
Parker Robb
Roy Tanner
Carrie Osborne
Daniel Osborne
Kelly Crandall
Piper Robb
REMEMBER: Music is not the reason an orchestra exists in a worship setting, people are the reason.

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