Reply To: Pit orchestras
I think a lot of this is determined almost entirely by situational things. I know that in my high school, we only had students play in the pit- but my high school has a very strong instrumental program, and also designated a lot of time to rehearsals for the musical. Sometimes, parts would have to be slightly adjusted, but it was almost entirely student done. I’ve worked with a lot of other programs that hire the seats out. I can see the validity in that when the program isn’t strong enough for the top parts, but I think that the pit should always include students in it. Whether you hire out some seats or no seats is up to you, but a student musical should give most of the opportunity to the students.
As for using a synthesizer, I think that should be a last resort. To me, synth strings have such a distinct “cheap” sound to them, and really just takes away from the entire performance. In all reality, this is for a high school musical, and the quality of the music expected by the audience is just that. I would rather hear just-okay real strings over solid synth strings any day.