In the Sonar forums I was asked about how the Song of Llorienne was sequenced. This is my somewhat long-winded answer.
The libraries used are all East West Hollywood Orchestra Gold except for the vocal which is 8Dio Jenifer. EWHO does not use keyswitches to the extent that other libraries might. That means that if I want to have different articulations (arco, pizzicato, etc.) I need to create separate tracks for each one. I created a Sonar project template that has everything set up. The only thing I need to do is load the samples I will actually use. The template is explained more here.
Every note is played not hand-entered By playing every note, subtle timing and velocity differences are recorded that helps the track to sound like it is performed by live musicians and not a computer. If I quantize anything, I use a medium level of quantization.
That said, I find it is often necessary to hand adjust individual notes to get the timing to sound right. The same is true of the velocity. I had to hand edit the velocities of the timpani to get it just right.
The best articulations for the job This can be obvious but in Song of Llorienne the first 2 16th notes of the main string melody needed to be doubled with sustain AND legato articulations. Legato alone was too wimpy sounding. For the string runs, even though they are just a few notes, I switch out to a sample made for runs . It makes a difference.
Expression I have an app for my Surface Pro 2 called Xotopad . This allows me to enter CC11 and CC1 via a pad controller with one hand while I play the notes with the other. More info here. CC11 controls expression (volume) and CC1 controls the vibrato amount. Changing these slightly while playing can add to the realism.
For some parts (like the low strings in the beginning), I drew the controllers in because I used 2 hands to play the part. In any case, I edited the controllers to get the right loudness levels and to add expression. For example, I might add a slight swell to the beginning of a brass note or have the strings swell the way the cellos do in the first part of the song. I spend a LOT of timing tweaking the controllers.
Judicious Doubling I will often double the violins with the cellos or violas for a bigger sound. You here this when the orchestra takes over the melody. It is easy for me to get too carried away with this though. You hear the violas drop out at one point and a counterpoint taken up by the horns and woodwinds. Too much of a good thing is not good. I also doubled the harp with subtle piano chords to add some depth to the sound. I think it helped to fatten the sound.
Reverb Sends Each section or solo instrument has its own effects send for reverb. I use Quantum Spaces and generally use the IRs for real concert halls. The reverb for each section is slightly different to mimic their position front to back in the orchestra. For me this isn't a hard and fast rule. I'll change it for effect if needed. The combination of loudness, reverb and timbre help give the impression of depth of field. As far as pan goes, EWHO is already panned correctly so I don't usually touch it.
I don't know if any of that is helpful, but I hope so. If anyone has better tips, chime in!