First Timer’s Guide to the Orchestra

Are you new to the world of Orchestral music?  Read through our handy guide, and get ready for a fantastic experience!


Enjoy the music
You have come to be entertained, moved, transported, or perhaps, to satisfy a loved one’s plea. Anyway, you’re there, so you might as well enjoy it. Some do this by watching the orchestra or the conductor. Some do this with their eyes shut. Experiment. Enjoy. Some people go to sleep – that’s ok as long as you don’t snore!  PS please turn off your mobile device, and remember that photography or recording is not permitted in the concert hall. Invite a friend or another couple to go with you to the next concert; You’ll enjoy it all the better.

Please make a lot of noise in the lobby
We love to hear the lobby “buzz” before and after the concert. Where possible we’ll have the bar open.  Please limit your conversations to before or after the music. Oh, and anything that makes unwanted noise should be left at home or turned off. This includes cell phones, pagers, crinkly lolly wrappers, baby monitors, most pets, and some distant relatives. Speaking of children … please consider leaving very young children in the care of a competent relative or babysitter for our more formal concerts. Our concerts are generally two hours long, with a 20-minute intermission, with concerts marketed as ‘family-friendly’ being around an hour long with a ten-minute break.

Applaud whenever you feel moved to applaud
Most people applaud a performer to express their awe and their appreciation for the performance. So, whenever so moved, please applaud. However, it may benefit your relationship to the loved one next to you to know that most symphony-goers feel bound to an unwritten contract to applaud only at the end of the entire musical work. For example, in a four-movement work, people actually wait until the end of the fourth movement to applaud. But, they generally make up for lost applause by applauding a really long time. How long? Long enough for the conductor to bow, shake hands with some musicians, walk off the stage, pause, come back on the stage, invite the orchestra to stand, bow, shake hands with some musicians, and walk off again. So, when not wanting to totally embarrass your evening’s companion, wait until others applaud, then follow their lead.

Come in and sit down when the doors open
We use a dozen venues across the region with seats up high down low (even on the ground for Sunset Symphony), and all of them are very comfortable. However, if you want to be among the leaders of the audience and take prime position, you need to arrive before the music begins. Once the music starts, the ushers will not allow you to enter until an appropriate break in the music, which in some cases may not be until intermission. Orchestras all over the world do things like this to ensure the enjoyment of the vast, vast, VAST majority of concert-goers who arrive and take their seat on time. I know you’ll understand.

Ask questions anytime (except when the music is playing!)
Please call our office to ask your concert etiquette questions, talk to the friendly hosts on our ‘Friends’ desk which is set up at every concert, or grab another concert goer who looks like they know what’s what. We also often have our musicians out talking with the audience before and after concerts and in the break. Don’t be shy. Some of them will even sign your programme for you.


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