The Orchestra

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The Orchestra of the Opéra national de Lorraine is created in 1884. Associated with the Salle Poirel specially built in 1889 for the symphonic seasons, it fulfils its both symphonic and lyrical mission linked with the Opera of Nancy from 1979. In 2006, the Ministry of Culture and Communication assigns to the latter the status of national opera, what takes part in the rise of the Orchestra's influence.

The 66 musicians of the Orchestra give about sixty concerts per season, mainly at the Salle Poirel where it is in residence since 2017, but also at the Opéra national de Lorraine for the lyrical works. The Orchestra is regularly invited by prestigious theatres or festivals, not only in the Région Grand Est but also around France.

The Polish conductor Marta Gardolińska was appointed musical director of the Orchestra in January 2021, succeeding the Israeli conductor Rani Calderon. Her appointment marks a new step in the Orchestra's life and fits completely with the development of the project "Nancy - Opéra citoyen" carried out by its director Matthieu Dussouillez, with the setting up of an ambitious artistic and cultural agenda striving for excellence to the advantage of all.

It is an essential cultural tool for the city of Nancy, it allows the largest audience to discover music through eclectic programs and high-level conductors and soloists.

Here are some keys to understanding the composition of an orchestra!

The musicians are arranged in a semi-circle around the conductor and are divided into four groups called families: the strings, the woodwinds, the brass section and the percussions.
Often, two other instruments are added to these different families: the harp and the piano.

The strings

These are the musicians who are positioned closest to the conductor. They are also the most numerous. Their family name comes from the fact that all the instruments have strings which need to be stroked with a bow to produce a sound. There are four instruments in this family: the violin, the viola, the cello and the double bass.

The woodwinds

These musicians are usually placed in a line behind the strings. Their name comes from the fact that these instruments are made of wood (as was the flute, originally). To produce a sound, one must blow into it. There are four main woodwind instruments in the orchestra: the flute, the clarinet, the oboe and the bassoon. To these four instruments, we can add a few cousins such as the piccolo which is a small flute, the cor anglaise (English horn), which resembles an oboe but produces a deeper sound, the bass clarinet, which as its name suggests will have a deeper sound than the clarinet or the contrabassoon which also has a lower pitch than the bassoon.

The brass section

Here again, one must blow to make a sound but this time into a brass instrument. Another common feature with these instruments is that one does not blow into a mouthpiece but rather, into a cupped metal rim which ends in a funnel-shaped bell. Again, there are four instruments in this family: the trumpet, the horn, the slide trombone and the tuba.

The percussions

These instruments are positioned behind the other musicians. To make a sound, one must strike (percuss) with a variety of batons and sometimes even with the hands. A percussionist must be versatile in order to play both a snare drum and the xylophone or cymbals in the same piece of music. Conversely, the timpanists (the musicians who play the kettledrums) only play the part reserved for them in the score.

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