Community Orchestras in Australia: Finding Music

Where do orchestras find their music?

The most used method of accessing music is purchasing music (87%), following by hiring from a publishing company (65%), then hiring from Symphony Services International (54%), and exchanging with other orchestras[i] (52%). Fewer than half of orchestras use other methods listed.

However, the positive rankings of each method varied from their actual use, indicating that some orchestras are interested in methods they are not using, some are using methods to access music which they would prefer not to. The Australian Music Centre has a much higher ranking than its actual use, indicating that more orchestras would like to use its services, while purchasing music has a lower positive ranking than its actual use, indicating that some would prefer not to purchase music. (Figure 3)

COiA july12 Figure3

In addition to the sources of music listed, community orchestras told the Music in Communities Network that they also use the State Library of QLD, Victorian Music Library, Tertiary music school libraries, and the internet. One website mentioned a number of times, the International Music Score Library Project (, which publishes scores and parts for out of copyright works.

Commissioning music

The survey asked whether the orchestra commissions a composer to write music, and whether a member of the orchestra writes music. In total, 54% of orchestras use at least one of these methods. 28% commission music but don’t have a member of the group compose for the group, 11% have a member compose but don’t commission, and 15% use both methods.

The positive ranking is much higher; 76% of orchestras would like to use at least one of these methods (26% commission, 13% have a member of the group compose, 37% both).

Therefore, there is a considerable overlap of interest in commissioning music and having a member of the group write music, and a considerable amount of interest in performing new music which is not yet being realised.

Next: Participation, Concerts and Rehearsals

Back to Community Orchestras in Australia (home)

[i] The Orchestras of Australia Network (TOAN) developed a scheme to facilitate orchestras exchanging music. The network no longer exists but anecdotally the Music in Communities Network is aware that some continue to use connections made through TOAN, and orchestras would support a new version of the scheme. The survey did not specifically ask about the National Music Lending Scheme.