Distance orchestra

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A remote orchestra is a group of musical instruments that are set up separately from the actual orchestra when a musical work is being performed , often behind the podium or at the opposite end of the concert hall . In order to achieve precise interaction with the main orchestra, it is either necessary to use a separate (auxiliary) conductor for the remote orchestra, or the conductor on the main stage is transmitted to the location of the remote orchestra by camera on a monitor or by mirror.


Related to this term is the use of incidental music in opera . For this reason, the terms incidental music and distant orchestra are occasionally used synonymously in orchestral practice . While incidental music is about the inclusion of the music in the stage action, when using remote orchestras the focus is more on the creation of sound effects and - as in the Venetian multi-choir - the inclusion of space.

In addition to the long- distance orchestra, there are works with a long-distance choir , especially in the late Romantic period , which in the same way contain a distant vocal ensemble, for example in Gustav Holst's The Planets , Peter Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and Claude Debussy's Nocturnes .


Early examples of distant instruments in this sense are the trumpets placed backstage in Ludwig van Beethoven's 3rd Leonore Overture (see Fidelio ) or Georges Bizet's Carmen . Hector Berlioz used four remote orchestras made up of trumpets and trombones in his Requiem . It was based on models in French music around 1800. In sacred works and cantatas by François-Joseph Gossec and Étienne-Nicolas Méhul , which were designed for a performance in the Paris Invalides , distant orchestras were used in the galleries earlier .

From the music of the late romantic period onwards , the distant orchestra is increasingly used. Gustav Mahler in particular repeatedly uses remote instruments in his works with differentiated instructions for setting up: "at a great distance" ( 1st symphony ), "from the opposite direction" ( 2nd symphony ), "set up in the distance" ( 3rd symphony ) . Symphony ), "positioned in the heights" (3rd symphony), "placed at a distance" ( 6th and 7th symphony ), "positioned in isolation" ( 8th symphony ).

In the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, the concert space and its acoustic possibilities are included from the outset in many works, for example in compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen . The spatial sound of electronic music also plays a role here, but also continues to have the effect of instruments set up far apart or distant orchestras.

Examples of works with a distance orchestra