What is a Philharmonic, Anyway?

Some might wonder about the terms symphony and philharmonic in classical music. Is there a difference? Maestro Donato Cabrera, musical director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic, clears things up:

“The terms symphony and philharmonic are interchangeable and synonymous with one another,” said Cabrera. “Their difference lies in their etymology.”

“Symphony and orchestra are Greek in origin. Symphony comes from the word symphonia, which means an agreement of sound. Orchestra originally meant the actual location where the chorus was located in front of the stage for Greek tragedies,” he said.

“The word philharmonic is Latin in origin and is literally translated as ’a lover of harmony.’ So, the terms today simply help differentiate between competing organizations that perform western classical music,” Cabrera added.

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