Paradox, Paradigms, and Participation: Widening the Pathways to Participation in Amateur Orchestras

By Jamie Arrowsmith.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 2, 2014 $US5.00

The modern amateur symphony orchestra presents a paradox, relying as it does on 19th century hierarchies and outdated codes of conduct while at the same time providing high quality entertainment, enabling the public to experience and participate in this art form, and composing a vital part of the cultural identity of many 21st century communities. Through the lens of community music theory and drawing on research conducted in the United Kingdom and Ontario, Canada, this paper examines how the apparent dichotomy between the performance of traditional western classical repertoire and the current philosophy and best practices of the community music movement may be reconciled The research suggests that while there are many barriers to participation in amateur ensembles, the most significant include the narrow approach to the training of amateur instrumentalists and the process by which they are accepted into amateur ensembles. To ensure continued access to the orchestral experience for amateur musicians and the future sustainability of amateur orchestras as part of our cultural heritage, a paradigm shift involving a re-visioning of the training and recruitment of amateur orchestral musicians is necessary.

Keywords: Amateur Orchestras, Community Music, New Paradigms, Participation

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 8, Issue 3-4, December 2014, pp.13-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 2, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 774.616KB)).

Jamie Arrowsmith

Coordinator, School of Music, Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada