play first chair

play first chair

To function as the leader of a particular section in a band, or of the band as a whole. Hyphenated if used as a modifier before a noun. I remember there being a lot of pressure when I played first chair for the university's chamber orchestra, but I loved the thrill of the spotlight and the responsibility. The conductor wanted me to play first-chair brass for the foreseeable future.
See also: chair, first, play

play first chair

 
1. to be the leader of a section of instruments in an orchestra or a band. (More literal than the following sense.) Sally learned to play the violin so well that she now plays first chair in the orchestra. I'm going to practice my flute so I can play first chair.
2. Fig. to act as a leader. I need to get this job done. Who plays first chair around here? You're not the boss! You don't play first chair.
See also: chair, first, play
References in periodicals archive ?
The impending shakeup spurs second violinist Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to suggest that he be allowed to play first chair on occasion, to the irritation of Daniel (Mark Ivanir), the quartet's tightly wound first violinist.
Cruz didn't play first chair in the appeal of this lawsuit, but he has taken the lead on other international patent infringement cases, successfully arguing a $5 million intellectual theft case before the Supreme Court against a Chinese company last year.