Employee orchestras at corporations: where work meets play

Posted on: January 28, 2020

A Google Orchestra performance. Photo by Arkanath Pathak

“In the city that birthed grunge … the latest musical sensation is the Amazon Symphony Orchestra,” writes Chip Cutter in Monday’s (1/27) Wall Street Journal (subscription required). “Amazon’s nearly 100-employee orchestra is one of a number of acts following in the corporate-music tradition of old industry giants like Boeing Co. and Eastman Kodak Co. Now, a new generation of company ensembles is getting the work band back together: Google has its Google Orchestra and Salesforce Inc. has an a cappella group.… Musicians come from all corners … many of them former high-school band geeks or music majors…. At the Texas Medical Center Orchestra in Houston, some of the doctors and other health-care professionals who belong have attended rehearsals in … scrubs, says its Juilliard School-trained director, Libi Lebel.… Company musical ensembles date at least to the 19th century, when coal mines throughout Britain had brass bands, many supported by mining companies, says Jesse Rosen, chief executive of the League of American Orchestras.” Other ensembles discussed in the article include the Boeing Employees Choir, Procter & Gamble Big Band, Kodak Concert Band, and “the Hewlett-Packard Symphony Orchestra … now called the South Bay Philharmonic.”