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Newcomer's Guide to the Symphony

What do I wear?

Our orchestra wears all black, instead of what used to be the traditional white tie and tails, guest artists will wear elegant formal wear, and your executive director often wears a floor-length dress to speak at the beginning of the concert, so that's what you'll see on the stage. Most of our attendees wear something partway between dressy casual and semi-formal. We recommend wearing what is comfortable and fun for you: a lot of people enjoy the opportunity to dress up for an event like a symphony orchestra concert, but it certainly isn't necessary. Don't forget to take the opportunity to take a picture in front of our photo-backdrop in the lobby!

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What are all of those instruments?

This is where attending our pre-concert lecture about the concert comes in super-handy! The lecturer will talk about the instruments, the composers of the music being performed, and often you'll have the opportunity to meet the guest artist. They begin at 2pm before every concert. But a quick and dirty explanation of the parts of an orchestra is also helpful! This .pdf guide will help introduce you to the orchestra. 

Violin Orchestra

Why does everyone tune to the oboe?

The oboe plays an "A" in order to tune the orchestra. It is an easy instrument to hear, and the oboe's pitch is secure and reliable. 

Black Oboe

Will it be fun?

Absolutely! It is, admittedly a different kind of fun from something like an amusement park or festival, but fun nonetheless. There is nothing like the experience of live music, and honestly, it helps ground you in your body and it's an enriching experience. Our music director and conductor, Dan Allcott, approaches the music with a fervent enthusiasm, and will often take a moment between pieces to talk about the music. There is also the social element: it's awesome to meet new people at intermission and after the concert: including the musicians!


When do I clap? 

Worried about clapping at the wrong time? It happens all of the time. You applaud the concertmaster when he comes on stage (he's the first violin player), and you applaud the conductor when he comes on stage, every time he comes on stage. You applaud at the end of an entire symphonic work (song or piece of music), but not during each pause between movements (each part of the piece of music). Your program will list everything, and you can see how many parts a piece of music has and count the pauses to know when you're actually at the end of the piece of music. You keep applauding as the conductor recognizes musicians or sections of the orchestra (groups of like instruments) that had solos or performed stand-out performances during the piece of music.

Close up of couple clapping in theater

Other questions?

Please don't hesitate to call or email us! The Executive Director, Rachel, and the Director of Patron Relations and Marketing, Sara, are passionate about making symphonic music accessible for all people and would be happy to answer any and all questions!

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