What is the difference between a symphony orchestra, pops orchestra, philharmonic orchestra and a chamber orchestra? A symphony or philharmonic orchestra is the largest. A pops (such as the Boston Pops) usually plays more popular music instead of traditional classical music. A chamber orchestra (such as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra) are smaller with 50 or less players and only have one or two players for each instrument except for the strings. Some chamber orchestras like Orpheus do not have a conductor.
Most major cities in America have a symphony or philharmonic orchestra. Philharmonic means love of music. The definition in several dictionaries defines the word "philharmonic" as an orchestra and it supporters and admirers. There are many independent orchestras around the world. There are orchestras that specialize in certain types of music. The New York Scandia Symphony nyscandia.org . Which specializes in music of Scandinavian Composers. Also the Great Brittan based Academy of Ancient Music aam.co.uk which deals with Baroque Music.
One of the most famous chamber orchestras is the London based Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. It is called that because when it was organized in 1958 they used the Anglican church of St. Martin in the Fields asmf.org. it was founded by the late Neville Mariner who was its main conductor until his death last year. The current conductor is American born Joshua Bell. They originally specialized in Baroque music. Now they do music of all periods.
The most famous orchestra in America is the New York Philharmonic One of the "Big 5' (the other 4 are the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra). They are based at The Lincoln Center in New York and had been at Carnegie Hall.
It dates from 1842. it was led by Leonard Bernstein America's most famous conductor for many years. I remember the Young People's concerts from TV when I was a child. Another famous conductor was the Italian Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) who was the father in law of pianist Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989).
Toscanini was one of the more famous conductors. The NBC Symphony Orchestra was created especially for him in 1936. This orchestra played radio broadcasts on the NBC Network. many of them are now on recording. Toscanini and the NBC Orchestra were one of the first orchestras and conductors that I had heard of. My family had a 78 rpm of him conducting Mozart's Symphony 41 "Jupiter". Toscanini retired in 1954 and died in 1957. The NBC Orchestra existed for a few more years under the name "Symphony of the Air" then it disbanded.