What should you wear? What happens if I’m late? When should I clap? Read below for answers to all frequently asked questions. For any additional questions please contact us.
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ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Interested in learning more about the pieces performed at each concert and their composers? Program notes are available on the concert event pages and will be emailed to ticket holders prior to each concert.
WHAT TO WEAR
Symphony NH concerts have no dress code or expectations. Our audience members tend to dress as if going out to a nice dinner, but please feel free to dress to your comfort level.
If you had your tickets delivered via email, please print them and show them to the ushers at the concert. You do not need to wait in any box office lines.
If you chose to pick up your tickets at the concert (Will Call), you may pick them up at the box office table with the "Will Call" sign. At Keefe Center for the Arts this is to the right in the lobby.
Tickets may be purchased at the concert location an hour and a half before the concert start time.
SHOULD YOU BE LATE
Please arrive at least 15 minutes before the concert start time in order to give yourself plenty of time to reach your seat. If this is not possible our ushers will show you to your seat during the next break in the program. You may be asked to wait until the conclusion of a piece or asked to temporarily sit in a seat closer to the door so as not to disturb performers and audience members. In order to not disturb other members of the audience, please wait to enter thee hall until the end of the movement or piece. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
Our concerts contain a 20 minute intermission listed in the concert program. Please ask ushers if you have questions about intermission, locations of restrooms, and availability of refreshments.
Frequently Asked Questions
You might have questions about our upcoming concerts. Please click on each question below for more information:
I'VE NEVER BEEN TO AN ORCHESTRA CONCERT BEFORE. WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
Expect to enjoy yourself! This is the time to let go of any preconceptions you might have about classical music or the concert experience. If you feel a little nervous, that’s OK. Some things about the concert may seem strange because they’re new to you, but if you just focus on the music, you’ll have a great time. Open yourself up to the music. Let it trigger your emotions and memories. Feel the rhythms; follow the tunes. Watch the musicians and the conductor, and see how they interact with each other. Notice how the music ebbs and flows — surging and powerful at some times, delicate and ephemeral at others, and everything in between.
HOW EARLY SHOULD I ARRIVE TO THE CONCERT?
We recommend arriving at least 30 minutes early to the concert you're attanding in order to give yourself sufficient time to find parking, pick up tickets at will-call, find your seats, and so on. The doors to the concert hall open about 45 minutes before the concert begins, and concerts typically start right on time! If you do happen to arrive late, ushers may ask you to wait in the lobby until there is a suitable pause in the music and then help you find your seats in the hall.
WHAT IF I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE MUSIC ON THE PROGRAM? DO I NEED TO STUDY BEFOREHAND?
There’s no need to study. The music will speak for itself. Just come and enjoy! Over time, many frequent concertgoers do find their enjoyment is deeper if they learn more about the music and composers before a concert. This can be simple, like reading the Concert Insights beforehand; or it can be more involved, like listening to recordings of the music to be performed in the days before they attend a concert. You know yourself best, so if research interests you, go ahead and follow your curiousity. But if studying isn’t your thing, there’s no need to be concerned about it. Just listen with an open mind.
WILL I RECOGNIZE ANY OF THE MUSIC?
You might. The music we perform is in our every day lives as well: in commercials, movies, TV themes, cartoons, stores, and even some elevators! Popular music often quotes classical melodies, too. While you’re listening in the concert to a piece you think you’ve never heard before, a tune you’ve heard a hundred times may jump out at you.
Whether or not you’ve heard the music before the concert, as you listen, you’ll notice that each piece of music uses its own group of several tunes over and over in different ways. You’ll start to recognize these melodies as a work progresses. Listen for the ways a melody is repeated: Is it exactly the same as the first time, or with a different character? Is it played by the same instruments, or different ones? Does it start the same as before, but go off in a different direction? Or start differently and surprise you by developing into the tune you recognize from earlier in the piece?
HOW LONG WILL THE CONCERT BE?
It varies, but most orchestra concerts are about 90 minutes to two hours long with an intermission at the halfway point. Very often there will be several pieces on the concert; but sometimes there is one single work played straight through. 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?
This is a very common question! No one wants to clap in the “wrong” place. But it’s simpler than you may think.
At the beginning of the concert the concertmaster (leader of the violins) will come onstage. The audience claps as a welcome and as a sign of appreciation to all the musicians. The concertmaster then bows to the audience as a welcome and sign of appreciation in return.
After the orchestra tunes, the conductor (and possibly a soloist) will come onstage. Everyone claps to welcome them, too.
Then everything settles down and the music begins. Just listen and enjoy! The audience doesn’t usually applaud again until the end of the piece. That said, if you do applaud between movements, don’t worry about it! Clapping is a sign of appreciation and musicians love being appreciated. And it’s only in the last 50 years or so that audiences stopped applauding between movements anyway, so you have music history on your side!
In most classical concerts the audience never applauds during the music. They wait until the end of each piece, then let loose with their applause. But this can be a little tricky, because many pieces seem to end several times—in other words, they have several parts, or “movements.” These are listed in your program.
In general, musicians and your fellow listeners prefer not to hear applause during the pauses between these movements, so they can concentrate on the progress from one movement to the next. Symphonies and concertos have a momentum that builds from the beginning to the end, through all their movements, and applause can “break the mood,” especially when a movement ends quietly. Sometimes, though, the audience just can’t restrain itself, and you’ll hear a smattering of applause — or a lot of it — during the pause before the next movement. It’s perfectly OK to join in if you enjoyed the music, too.
What if you lose track, and aren’t sure whether the piece is truly over? One clue is to watch the conductor. Usually, she or he won’t relax between movements, but keep hands raised; the attention of the musicians will remain on the conductor. If in any doubt, it’s always safe to wait and follow what the rest of the audience does!
At the end of the piece, it’s time to let yourself go and let the musicians know how you felt about their playing. Many pieces end “big” — and you won’t have any doubt of what to do when! Some end very quietly, and then you’ll see the conductor keep hands raised for a few seconds at the end, to “hold the mood.” Then the hands will drop, someone will clap or yell “Bravo!” — and that’s your cue. There’s no need to restrain yourself. If you enjoyed what you heard, you can yell “Bravo!” too.
WHAT IF I NEED TO COUGH DURING THE MUSIC?
Everyone gets the urge to cough now and then. Don't worry, and don’t let worrying ruin your enjoyment of the concert. There’s a funny thing about coughing — the less worried you are about it, the less likely you are to feel the urge! So chances are you’ll feel less need to cough if you’re prepared.
Be sure to visit the water fountain in the lobby before the concert, and at intermission. If you have a cold, take some cough medicine in advance and bring wax paper-wrapped—or unwrapped—lozenges with you. Have a few out and ready when the music begins. Allow yourself to become involved in listening to the music and in watching the performers. The more you are absorbed in what’s going on, the less likely you are to cough. If you absolutely can’t restrain yourself, try to wait for the end of a movement. Or “bury” your cough in a loud passage of music. If this is impossible, and you feel a coughing fit coming on, it’s perfectly acceptable to quietly exit the concert hall. Don’t be embarrassed — your fellow listeners will probably appreciate your concern for their listening experience.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY CELL PHONE DURING THE CONCERT?
Turn it off! The same goes for pagers and watch alarms. It’s a good idea to double-check in the few minutes before the concert begins, and again as intermission draws to a close. Better still, leave them at home if you can. Doctors and emergency workers who are “on call” can give their pagers to an usher, who will summon them quietly if they are paged.
CAN I TAKE PICTURES
Cameras, video recorders, and tape recorders aren’t permitted in concerts. If you have a camera and want a souvenir of a special evening at the symphony, it can be fun to ask someone to take your picture outside the concert hall before you go in.
WHY IS THERE AN INTERMISSION AND WHAT SHOULD I DO DURING IT?
It’s a short rest period for the musicians and conductor — once you see how much activity goes into a performance, you’ll understand why they need a break!
Listening to music is also an intense activity (even if considerably less physical), and a break in the middle helps the audience concentrate better in the second half. Some concerts, though, have no intermission because it would interrupt the flow of a long work. Check the program before the concert so you know what’s coming.
Most intermissions are fifteen to twenty minutes long, which gives you time to socialize with your companions, get a drink or a snack in the lobby, and visit the restroom. Do whatever puts you in a good frame of mind to hear the second half of the concert.
CAN I BRING MY KIDS?
Yes! Attending an orchestra concert can be a great family activity. We offer free youth tickets for children ages 15 and under - however we recommend waiting until children are at least 5 years old before bringing them to an orchestra concert. Young children often have trouble sitting through pieces of music that can be over 40 minutes long at some of our concerts. But if you think your child will enjoy the concert setting, you are welcome to bring them. We have a Children's Program at each concert so our young audience members can learn about the concert. We also recommend purchasing seats on the aisle in case you do have to exit the hall during the concert.