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How do orchestras play in sync? Tom Allen breaks it down

Editorial Staff

"It shouldn't work at all, but it does," says CBC Music's Tom Allen.

In his most recent video, produced in collaboration with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Allen looks at the many factors that conspire to derail a symphony performance — and the mysterious alchemy (actually the skill, presence of a conductor and a little luck) that keeps it all together.

"If you go to see a pop or rock band at a major hall," Allen explains, "you'll see monitors along the front of the stage, pointing back at the musicians so they can stay together."

But when a symphony orchestra plays on that same stage, there are no monitors, and with more than 15 metres separating the bassist on one side and the percussionist on the other, the potential for pandemonium is high.

So what do they do about it? Allen and a few far-flung Toronto Symphony Orchestra players explain:

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