FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What should I wear?
Whatever makes you comfortable. You'll see concertgoers in suits, vests, sweaters, skirts, khakis, slacks, everything! Contrary to what many people think, formal attire -- such as tuxedos and evening gowns -- are not required at concerts.
When do I clap?
Generally, it is considered proper concert etiquette to clap only after a piece is complete, and the conductor has lowered his or her hands. This means that, for example, if you're listening to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, which has four movements, it is appropriate to clap after the last movement. You can look at your program book to find out how many movements a piece has. Usually, there is a 15- to 30-second pause in between movements. So, in the case of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, you know you're hearing the Finale after three pauses. If all else fails, you can always wait for the rest of the audience to clap before applauding.
What should I expect?
When you sit down in the theater, the lights will be bright, you will hear the audience talking and the orchestra warming up on stage. When the lights go down, this is the signal that the concert is about to begin. The orchestra and audience will become quiet. The concertmaster (the principal, or lead, first violin player) will come on stage, and the audience will applaud in recognition of the leadership role the concertmaster holds in the orchestra because the concertmaster is responsible, in part, for how the orchestra sounds.
The concertmaster will then ask the principal oboe player to begin tuning the orchestra. The oboist will play a note that the other wind and brass instruments will use to be sure they are in tune. The oboist will play the note a second time, and this time the concertmaster and string players will use the note to be sure they are in tune. When the concertmaster is satisfied the orchestra is in tune, s/he will sit down, signaling the conductor that the orchestra is ready to play.
The audience will applaud when the conductor comes on stage, and will stop when s/he turns toward the orchestra. The theater will again become very quiet, and the conductor will begin the concert. At the end of the piece, the conductor will drop his hands to his sides, and the audience will applaud.
Intermissions are typically 20 minutes long. At most Philharmonic concerts in the Saroyan Theater, refreshments are available in the lobby while local artists and musicians display their work and perform in the lower lobby. Be sure to visit!
Bells will sound at the end of intermission, signaling time to return to your seat and enjoy the rest of the concert.
Will children enjoy their time at the Phil?
Children under seven are not encouraged to attend our regular masterworks concerts -- the programs tend to be too long for children. However, while our subscription concerts are perfect for adults, children and their families will enjoy our Holiday and Family Concerts.