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Use the tabs below to find out about each section of the orchestra, watch video clips, and read interviews with musicians.

Apart from being a solo star instrument, the piano was originally used in the orchestra to add strength to weak bits of music.

Since the early 1900s the piano has become more equal and, aside from playing along with the others, it often gets passages to play alone.

The keyboard player is often called upon to play other instruments. Find out more below.

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Meet the orchestra

Elizabeth Burley, Piano
BBC Symphony Orchestra

  • How old were you when you first started playing?
    I was six and a half.

  • Why did you choose this instrument?
    There was always a piano in the house so it seemed the natural thing to do.

  • Do you play any other instruments?
    I also studied the harpsichord and will have a go at all other keyboard instruments! I also learned the cello but you wouldn't want to hear me play it!

  • What do you like most about playing in an orchestra?
    There is always something to learn and something to be challenged by. It's always thrilling to be part of the amazing sound of a large symphony orchestra.

  • Do you play any other kind of music?
    I'm ashamed to admit I don't.

  • What is your favourite music?
    I love so much different music but if I was going onto a desert island it would have to be Rachmaninov's piano music.

  • Do you have any other hobbies?
    Tennis, jiving, hill walking and going to the theatre.

  • What would you have been if you weren't a musician?
    I never really considered doing anything else but would have enjoyed something to do with the theatre.

Have you been listening to an orchestra without realising it?

Spot the orchestra

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