Then perhaps it's not a good idea to do electronic music. On the other hand I think you should use the TECHNIQUES (e.g. programming using a sequencer, using samplers / romplers with symphonic sounds) so you can compose the music you want with the sounds you like.
To further clarify this, get a nice symphonic library (e.g. Symphobia) and a sequencer, then see if you like the workflow and it fits your needs. After you can easily add specific section-dedicated libraries (e.g. Hollywoodwinds, Cinebrass).
I think you misinterpreted what you said - I'm not trying to emulate orchestral instruments electronically, I'm trying to switch from making classical music to making electronic music, which totally bypasses the need for players and allows me to explore a more pop-ish sound than what I do now, which is pretty out there, Bartok-ish atonal music for classical instruments.
It's because I want to have full control over the sound, but I don't want to spend my time trying to make sampled instruments sound real. I'd prefer to work with electronic sounds instead, and I like that it gives me access to a bigger range of possibilities than acoustic instruments do.
It's great that you have a classical background, I also am classically trained and feel that it really helps me a lot.
Experimentation. Mess with stuff. Since you know what are lfo's, filters and such, it will be easier for you to create the desired sound. Unless, of course you want to use synth presets. EQ-ing, compression and distortion devices are also really important for me. There are no strict rules in electronic music, so whatever sounds good to you is the only thing that matters.
Also, what kind of headphones are you using ? Your music might suffer a lot if you use hi-fi speakers or headphones for production(but I guess you already know that).
I'm using a set of Bose headphones, not sure what kind. I only have that, a set of 2.1 home speakers, and some iPod earbuds available. Would it be better to mix on the ipod buds since if something sounds good on them, it'll probably be good on better equipment?
It actually should be the other way around. If something sounds good on a monitor speaker/headphone it most likely will translate well to other systems. However, I recall seeing a video on youtube, where a guy tested the frequency response of some kind of iphone earbud and was surprisingly flat. You won't get any real bass response, but since that's all you have, you might try and see what result you'll get.
But still, monitor speakers or headphones are crucial and you can find good ones for very affordable prices