Picture of Nicole Martín Medina

Nicole Martín Medina

Gestora Cultural – Abogada/MBA

The Fairy Tale of the Trumpet Player o What is an orchestra for? – Part 5

Work carried out during the

Master’s Degree in Management of Cultural and Creative Industries 

Universidad Europea Miguel de Cervantes, 2020-2021

Subject “Theoretical Foundations of the Cultural and Creative Industries”.
Spanish mark: 10

Reduced text (without the theoretical-academic part)

Special Christmas 2023 entry, in 6 parts

The Fairy Tale of the Trumpet Player o What is an orchestra for? – Part 5
“What is an orchestra for?” That had been the question. “What’s the point of an orchestra?” whispered the fermata.
“Well, pay attention; now we’ll take the next step. Little by little, it will become clear to you.”
“An orchestra is a reflection of society in miniature,” he heard the orchestra’s assistant conductor think.
“So,” reasoned our hero, “What happens to us in the orchestra is something that happens in our society as a whole?” What an overwhelming idea!
“The orchestra is an opportunity for encounter. It is a space for tuning up, with its regulation of each other. It is an opportunity to bring together, in a sublime way, protagonism and subordination, at last, the marriage of the I and You unite to become We are. The orchestra is the temple of cooperation, where beauty is traced in every gesture, in every step, in every silence, the sound of life,” were the thoughts heard in the violin section.
The trumpeter was astonished at the poetry expressed by these ideas: “Can it be said that the orchestra is poetry, or is it rather the music that the orchestra brings to life?” But it is clear that a society without music and poetry loses its soul, so orchestras are needed to interpret the music.
“Don’t be a simpleton,” the harpsichord said, interrupting the trumpeter in his meditation. “Keep listening and draw your own conclusions.”

The trombones did not fall short either. “On the basis that an orchestra is an architecturally perfect sound machine, it serves as a powerful sonorous instrument that perfectly integrates the different families of instruments. I particularly see the orchestra as the ultimate extension within the field of Chamber Music, as each role is perfectly designed, bringing together the different gears that will constitute this veritable cathedral of sound.

First a temple, now a cathedral.

“Since Antiquity, music has accompanied theater, dance, prayer, etc. In other words, activities with a social vocation and a representational function. Although nowadays ‘orchestra’ is a self-contained and independently developed concept, it still retains some of these functions of accompaniment and representation. Orchestras create community both by their own configuration and by the public they serve because they recreate and communicate their values and expectations”, one could perceive among the violas.

“At least the violas have paid attention to my exquisite exposition of the orchestra’s history,” murmured the treble clef with a touch of vanity [1].

“You are conceited. But let’s leave it at that. I would like to know: how did we end up in such a grey state that we don’t even realize how important the work we do as performers is?

“Come on, rookie, you’ve already realized that you’re part of the problem and part of the solution,” he said, enjoying the sunshine of his triumph.
“Excuse me?” he replied to the trumpeter. “If you used the plural, ‘we’re done’ clearly,” the treble clef replied with a big laugh.
From behind the orchestra, where the choir was usually placed, the following was heard from a chorister: “Without an orchestra, we would not have the great moments of cinema, the great soundtracks; the musicians would not be able to live their dreams; the composers would have their works in the shadows; they would not be able to listen to them if it were not because now technology can imitate an orchestra, although it is not the same, and the sensation of listening to a live orchestra is unique. It would be a great loss to the human soul. Jobs would be lost, great classical works could never be heard again, choirs could not accompany each other, and culture would be diminished and crippled without an orchestra.”
Another chorister thought, “An orchestra is like a good stew. Each instrument, or group of instruments, adds its energy, flavor and density to the final dish. The chef-director arranges all the ingredients so that the recipe-score is fulfilled. Moreover, this stew can serve as an accompaniment to other elements to create more complex dishes”.
“An orchestra is an instrumental ensemble that, in the current context, is the result of musical evolution. It responds to the need to incorporate new timbres and sounds demanded by composers in the development and evolution of musical language and the prevailing aesthetic. It is the instrument that composers have, with rich, diverse and heterogeneous technical peculiarities, which allow the communication of an intellectual action in its most abstract and expressive sense, generating cultural value and the transmission of knowledge”, was heard from the percussion section.
“An orchestra reproduces the works of the greatest composers to the delight of the public. Moreover, it serves as a tool for education, not only in school concerts, as these times of semihemidemisemiquavers have shown. The orchestra accompanies operas, operettas and zarzuelas and culturally promotes a kingdom or a city”, was heard in the horn section.
“An orchestra is living proof that 120 people can communicate at the same time,” were the thoughts of a flutist [2].
Our protagonist could not stop the avalanche of ideas that surrounded him. “Starting from the premise that communication is the key element for the coexistence of people, that it is the tool that avoids fights and wars, that it is the device that allows the development of empathy and understanding between one and the other, and, given the fact that an orchestra is a way that 120 people can communicate at the same moment (without what happened with the semihemidemisemiquavers that were almost not understandable in their imbroglio), there is no other conclusion than that the orchestra makes all the sense in the world. The orchestra, the music, makes us human, makes us sensitive and exposes us to our humblest selves while welcoming and sheltering us. It makes us a community, whether you are a musician or a member of the audience. It gives us conscience”.
It was as if fireworks of questions and answers were going off inside our hero and, thanks to the help of the fermata, splashing the other musicians, who in turn replied with new definitions of the great importance of their place of work and their new home. 
“Do you realize?” The treble clef interrupts him again. “The orchestra not only communicates in unison, but is also able to think together. Obviously, it requires a certain level of leadership. Otherwise, as you have seen, they end up in a grey routine like everyone else. Someone who knows how to make ideas, illusions or visions jump out at other people as has just happened here with the definitions about orchestras. What can I say, to let an orchestra fall into a tailspin is a real sin, my friend, but of course, I’m just a simple treble clef.”
“You mention leadership,” replies the trumpeter. “But isn’t that the conductor’s job? You’re not talking about the fermata, I suppose?”
“Oh, Mr. Trumpet,” scoffed the treble clef. “Leadership has nothing to do with positions within an organization. It is a philosophy of life. A leader can be anyone who has a clean soul and a clear mind. Anyone who gives himself to a cause he believes in with all his being. Every organization needs to be led toward the desired development, ideally by managers who have this ability. Unfortunately, it is not always the managers who have the best leadership skills. Leadership means accepting the responsibilities and obligations that this entails, even if they go against one’s own interests. With dedication, honesty and loyalty, leaders become magnets for colleagues and turn them into leading groups. Why do you think you and I are doing what we are doing here?”
“Mister Treble Clef, Sir, I don’t understand you at all.”
“You really don’t?”
“The orchestra?”
“Yes, the orchestra.”
“Yes, and you.”
“The orchestra as a leader in society. Me as a leader within it? From the back row of it, the rookie who doesn’t know anything, doesn’t even have experience playing in a symphony orchestra?”
Silence. Nothing. 
It is said that silence is also music.
….. To be continued and ended on January 6……
Nicole Martín Medina
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Christmas 2023
(Original Spanish/Translation Deepl/Revision NMM)




[1] The commentary the treble clef refers to is part of the historical exposition on orchestras within the technical-academic text that was cut for the adaptation of this publication.

[2] The definitions are literal transcriptions given to me by musicians of the Gran Canaria Philharmonic. However, within the story, the instruments and musicians have been anonymized to avoid possible identification. I chose the instruments that offer their thinking in the story arbitrarily, without reference to the authors.

A big hug and a thousand thanks to all those who have participated!


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