First Timer's Guide

The Symphony Concert Experience

Because PSO is a community orchestra, our audiences often include family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who may be less accustomed with concert hall traditions. We hope this information enhances your enjoyment of the program.

What should I wear?

There was a time when attending a classical music performance meant getting all "gussied up," especially for evening concerts. But things are much more relaxed now with most people wearing "business casual" attire. If it's appropriate for a job interview, church, or meeting your future in-laws, chances are it is fine! The important thing is to be comfortable.

Avoiding distractions during the concert.

Before the concert begins, please be sure to turn off cell phones and pagers, because ring tones can disrupt the music for everybody. Also, we ask that during the concert, you limit talking to hushed whispers so as not to distract those around you. If you have a cough, please unwrap lozenges before the music begins or during intermission. It's surprising how the sound carries! If your cough persists, quietly exit the auditorium and wait in the lobby until it passes. Ushers will gladly get you a drink of water.

When do I clap?

This is a source of confusion for first-time concert-goers, especially if the music--which often features several movements--is unfamiliar to you. When the sound stops, you may not know if it's a brief pause or if the entire piece is over. Here's an easy rule of thumb: Watch the conductor. If he still has his arms up, you can be sure there's more music coming very soon and this is not the time to clap. But when he lowers his arms to his side and either signals the players to stand or turns to the audience, that's when you applaud.

How long will the program last?

Typically our performances run just shy of two hours, including the intermission.

What happens during intermission?

That's a time for the musicians to relax a bit--they've been working hard! And equally important, it's a time for the audience to "rest" their ears. Listening is active, and you need a break, too. It also allows for non-musical silence between pieces, much like a wine taster cleansing his or her palate between samples. Audience members are free to move about the auditorium and converse in full voice at this time.