BSO Players & Staff
In addition to our Principal Conductor, the BSO frequently works with its Conductor Emeritus, Conductor Laureate and Associate Guest Conductor. The Orchestra also employs a Young Conductor in Association who is on hand to assist with preparation and rehearsals.
The BSO works with many of today's composers through mainstream concerts and its education and community work.
The leading voice in the strings is the violin, an instrument of extraordinary range and versatility. Orchestral violins are divided into two sections: firsts and seconds. Violins are played with a bow, but can also be plucked. The left hand is used to stop the strings in order to change their vibrating length and therefore the pitch of the notes. The four strings of a violin are tuned in fifths - G D A E.
Violas add a rich colour to the string section of a symphony orchestra and are used to fill in the harmony texture. They are tuned a fifth below the violin - C G D A, and have a darker, richer, more mellow sound.
Cellos and double basses add a solid bass line to orchestral works. In addition the beautiful tone of the cello is often used to add lyrical solo lines to pieces. The cello is tuned an octave below the viola and is the true bass of the violin family. Although even more lower-pitched, the double bass is actually a member of the older viol family.
Woodwind instruments are derived from basic blown pipes and can be made from a wide variety of materials. Most produce their sound by means of a vibrating reed. They come in families with larger and smaller versions of the main orchestral instrument, and are used to add a variety of colours to the orchestral sound. The standard woodwind section of the modern symphony orchestra comprises two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons and contrabassoon. In many pieces, composers may add additional instruments such as an alto flute, saxophones or smaller high-pitched clarinets.
Brass instruments consist of a length of metal tubing ending in a flared bell. They use valves or a a slide mechanism, which engage additional lengths of tubing to extend their range. The air column is set in motion by vibrating the lips against a cupped mouthpiece. Sound characteristics are partly the result of the width of the bore, as well as the shape and size of the bell and mouthpiece. Whist they can be played with great subtlety, brass instruments are often used to provide immense power, brightness and dramatic effect.
The percussion section adds rhythmic vitality and drive to a symphony orchestra. The percussion family includes the timpani, xylophone, glockenspiel, marimba, tubular bells, cymbals, drums and tam-tams to name but a few. Keyboard instruments such as the piano or celeste are also often used by composers to add further tonal colour.
The modern orchestral harp has 47 strings, stretched between the neck and the soundboard, together with seven pedals for altering the pitches of the strings. As well as plucking chords, techniques such as glissandos and harmonics can be used to create special effects.
Running a symphony orchestra is an extremely complicated business. Administration staff work on the scheduling of concerts, planning of repertoire, travel logistics, marketing, finances, funding and education projects.
The BSO Board comprises talented individuals who give their time and expertise on a voluntary basis.