Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra

The WSO celeste

A celeste sounds rather like a glockenspiel, but with a fuller sound. It looks likea rather small upright piano. It is actually a keyboard instrument which strikes metal bars with hammers.

The celeste isn't part of the standard symphony orchestra, but composers do call for it from time to time. Most people are probably only familiar with it as the ethereal tinkle of the sugar-plum fairy in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. Because of our ambitious programming, we find ourselves needing a celeste surprisingly often.

Despite its appearance, a celeste is remarkably expensive. They are not mass-produced, but have to be made to order. As yet there is no satisfactory electronic substitute.

Our celeste was built by Schiedmayer's, an old-established German company in Stuttgart. Their pianos had a very good reputation a century ago, when no respectable home would have been without one. Nowadays the firm is still in the family, run by Frau Schiedmayer, and is one of the few firms that can actually build a celeste. Ours is the superior, five octave model. It is 43" high, 48" wide and 24" deep.

The instrument is not purely for the use of Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra - musicians throughout the North-West and even further afield are intended to benefit. Any organisation affiliated to the National Federation of Music Societies is encouraged to hire it. The fee is currently 100.

If your organisation is interested in using the celeste, please contact John Nattrass. Please note that the fee includes insurance but not transport and that 4 people are required to move it.

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