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Who We Are

The Really Terrible Orchestra of Pennsylvania, or RTO-PA for short, provides an environment for musicians of all skill levels to make music without the pressures of feeling uncomfortable during rehearsals and performing.  RTO-PA strives to be as open and inclusive as possible, placing the emphasis on “community” in “community orchestra.” We all share in the love of music and performing for others.


RTO-PA is comprised of approximately 70 to 75 local musicians ranging in age from the 20's to the 90's.  RTO-PA provides the opportunity to both amateur musicians as well as seasoned professionals to advance or maintain their orchestral playing competency. The musicians, many who are retired, have played, or currently play with the Lehigh Valley Pops, Macungie Band, Allentown Symphony Orchestra, Moravian University Orchestra, Reading Philharmonic Orchestra, Reading Pops Orchestra, Swing Fever Dance Band, Allentown Municipal Band and Pioneer Band.


Colleen Schoneveld, founder, violinist, and current board member brought the concept of the “Really Terrible Orchestra” to the Lehigh Valley.  The RTO-PA is modeled after the Scottish RTO founded in 1995 by Peter Stevenson and Alexander McCall Smith who were inspired by the enjoyment their children had playing in their school orchestra.  They decided to look for a local amateur orchestra to play music with for fun but found no such thing and ended up establishing the first Really Terrible Orchestra.


The mission of RTO-PA is to provide an opportunity to better our talents as musicians, which in turn  allows us to bring the joy of music to our community.  By providing people of all musical levels an educational venue and a non-judgmental atmosphere of compassion and encouragement, the RTO-PA seeks to:

  • Expand music education and music appreciation to the adult population.

  • Provide lapsed musicians with an opportunity to regain and hone their skills.

  • Provide a pleasant and stimulating environment for adults of the community who wish to participate in community concert orchestra activities.

  • Provide experienced musicians the opportunity to learn and master new instruments.

  • Train amateur musicians in orchestral protocol and orchestral literature and provide the tools necessary for collaborative music making.

  • Provide cultural enrichment and music education to the community by publicly performing varied repertoire.

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