Garritan Personal Orchestra

Gary Garritan is a man with a mission – to make available an affordable symphony orchestra library. Professional composers are going to justify shelling out hundreds or even thousands of pounds more for the EastWest Symphonic Orchestra or the Vienna Strings, but most people are going to like the price of the Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO).

Garritan originally started out with his Orchestral Strings library, which was much larger and cost considerably more. But he realized that this was not the way to go for musicians who wanted quick results. With professional libraries, you end up spending lots of time wading through long lists of patches hunting for the right instrument, and prices are well beyond the reach
of most. So, time for simplicity, sanity and affordability in the form of the Personal Orchestra. And unlike the larger libraries, GPO will run comfortably on a laptop.

The GPO is much more than an orchestral samples library that can be accessed using the supplied Kontakt Player plug-in from within suitable host software. The package also includes Overture SE notation software, GPO Studio VST host software, Ambience reverb software – and Cubase LE (with the next version).

Articulations are controlled with a MIDI keyboard and pedals. The mod wheel controls the volume;
how hard you press the key controls the attack; and the sustain pedal controls legato and bow strokes.I tried it with Pro Tools using the Kontakt RTAS plug-in. This worked fine and didn’t stress my G4 unduly. GPO was developed with notation programs in mind, and I had good results using Sibelius and Finale with the GPO Studio application hosting the Kontakt Player and linked with the notation software – although Sibelius was more straightforward than Finale.


There can be no doubt about it – the Garritan Personal Orchestra does exactly what Gary Garritan claims, and is great value for money. It has everything you need to get started making orchestral music, including a complete orchestral sample library, a sample player, an audio/MIDI sequencer, a notation program, and a VST host. There is some room for criticism, though. Some users have reported that there are not enough samples without vibrato, and that some desirable instruments and articulations are missing – but at the asking price, I think there’s a reasonably comprehensive set of orchestral instruments in the library. Just don’t expect the highest quality – the whole library occupies only just over 1.8GB on disk. And you can hear the compromised quality when you audition on professional monitors, as I did. Nevertheless, I can recommend this package to anyone who wants to get started with orchestral composition on the Mac at a very affordable price.

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