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Attending a Concert

What should I wear?

Concerts are meant to be a great social occasion and you should feel free to dress comfortably. Many people will wear business clothes or slightly dressy casual clothes, but you'll see everything from khakis with a nice shirt to dresses and suits. Some people enjoy dressing up and making it a special night, and you can as well. Still, evening gowns and tuxedos are pretty rare except on our Opening Night Gala. At our outdoor summer concerts at the Pacific Amphitheater, casual attire is acceptable.

When should I arrive?

Regular season concerts begin at 8 p.m. Please consider arriving twenty minutes before the concert begins so you can find parking, find your seat, and have time to look through the program book and notes. Most concertgoers make a point of coming early to attend the Preview Talk at 7 p.m. (see below), read the program notes, or just watch the orchestra warm up. If you arrive late, you will be seated by ushers during the next break in the performance.

What are the Preview Talks before the concert?

Each Classical Series concert is preceded at 7 p.m. by a thirty-minute interactive discussion called a Preview Talk. Concertgoers are invited to sit in the main floor seating area for an insightful conversation related to the music, composers, and guest artists featured on the evening's concert. Ticket patrons will be asked to return to their reserved seats at the end of the Preview.

How long will the concert be?

It varies with the music selection, but most Pacific Symphony concerts are about two hours in length, usually with an intermission at the halfway point. Very often there will be several pieces in the concert; but occasionally there is one single work played straight through. With Pops concerts, the Symphony often performs on the first half with Richard Kaufman conducting and is joined by a special guest artist for the second half. Sunday Connections concerts are about 90 minutes in length, with no intermission. It's a good idea to take a look at the program before the concert to get an idea of what to expect.

When should I clap?

Many works in classical music have three or more movements or sections. There is often a brief pause between each movement, almost like chapters in a book. The tradition in the concert hall is that applause should only occur when the work is finished and not in between movements. To find out the number of movements in a particular piece, turn to the program page in your program book. Applause should occur only after the last movement. Another way to tell is when the conductor turns around and smiles at the audience.

What if I need to cough during the music?

Coughing can be an unavoidable problem, but there are ways to avoid coughing during the music.

  • Please consider visiting a water fountain prior to the concert.
  • Feel free to bring unwrapped cough drops into the concert hall. Unwrapping cough drops during a concert makes more noise than one might think. If there are no cough drops on hand, try to wait until the end of the movement.
  • If you can't avoid coughing, please try to wait until a loud passage in the music or at the end of a movement. An un-muffled cough is often louder than any musical instrument.
  • Finally, please consider stepping outside but remember that audience members who have to leave the hall before the conclusion of a work will not be reseated until a convenient break in the music.

What should I do with my cell phone and other electronic devices?

Pacific Symphony requests that all cellular phones and other electronic devices be turned off before the performance and when coming back in from intermission. Noise of any kind, including unwrapping candy wrappers, talking, whispering or rustling programs, can be distracting to the musicians as well as those around you.

Can I take pictures?

Pacific Symphony prohibits the recording of its performances via camera, digital camera, cell phone, camcorder, audio tape or with any other electronic device.

What is an intermission?

Almost all of Pacific Symphony regular season concerts have a 20-minute intermission. Concessions are available for purchase on various levels at Segerstrom Concert Hall and at Pacific Amphitheatre. Family and Sunday Connections series concerts are performed without an intermission.

Can I bring my kids?

You are always encouraged to bring your children, but keep in mind the type of concert and their ages. Many standard-length classical concerts are inappropriate for small children because they require an attention span that is difficult for youngsters to maintain. Pacific Symphony offers several series appropriate for young children including our Family Musical Mornings offered on five Saturdays throughout the season.