Many times, those new to classical music are nervous about attending concerts because they don’t know what to expect in terms of concert etiquette, and they may have heard that it is kind of “stuffy” with lots of rules. Relax! Classical music isn’t as intimidating as you might think. Use the tips on this page as a starting point to help you fully experience the wonderful classical music performed by the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, whether it is your first time attending an orchestral concert or you are a seasoned concert-goer.
- Is it time to clap yet? While tradition has changed over time, today’s audiences usually wait until the end of an entire work to clap, even though the piece may have several parts or movements where the orchestra will pause before continuing. It is considered a minor faux pas to clap between movements, though the musicians will be glad to know that you are enjoying their performance! Why is it important not to clap at these break points? Holding applause between movements is considered to be respectful to the performers’ concentration and maintains the momentum of the music they are creating. In addition, quiet endings have a lingering magic that can be too easily broken by audience members in a hurry to initiate applause. If you want to anticipate when the composition will come to an end, you can count the number of movements for an entire work as listed in the program booklet. The movements are also usually easy to hear because of the different tempos or speeds and moods of the music, so keep track of the sections and applaud after the final movement. The occasional composer can trick you, however, by not inserting a pause between movements. Beethoven, for example, doesn’t have a pause between the third and fourth movements of his 5th Symphony. Your best bet is to watch the conductor. He will let you know when a piece is over, so wait until he puts his arms down and turns to face the audience. If his hands remain in front of him, he is waiting for the orchestra to be ready to continue with the next movement of the piece. If the work is completed, the conductor will also shake the hands of the concertmaster and the soloist if there is one. If you’re still in doubt, you can always wait until the majority of the crowd begins to applaud.
- Talking during the performance. Please do not talk during the performance. The acoustics in auditoriums and concert halls are designed to amplify sounds, and as a result, whispers are amplified too.
- Turn off cell phones. No matter how cool a ring tone is, most people who pay for concert tickets do not wish to have the performance interrupted by a phone. If there is some reason that you absolutely must use your phone and it cannot wait, have the courtesy to wait until an appropriate time and leave the concert hall before using the phone.
- Wait for an appropriate time to enter and exit. Opening and closing of doors for people to enter and exit disrupts the effects of the lighting and people coming and going in the middle of performances distracts the audience and the performers.
- What do people wear to the concerts? Concert-goers usually dress as they would if they were going to a play, a religious service, or a nice family restaurant.
- Where can I park? Parking for all events at the Wilson Center will be located at the Hanover Parking Deck (across from the Wilson Center entrance). Please visit Wilson Center's website for parking directions and rates.
- How long will the concert last? The evening concerts are about 90 minutes to two hours in length (including an intermission.) The Youth Orchestra and Junior Strings matinees are 60 minutes in length with no intermission. (At this time there is no food or beverage concession available for the matinees.)
- Is the concert appropriate for children? Matinees in general, and the Family Concert in particular, are good concert choices for children. They are generally more casual in presentation and shorter in length. Evening concerts are appropriate for children who can sit quietly for 60 minutes or more at a time.
- Can I buy tickets at the door? Tickets are sold at the door on a space-available basis; if the concert is already sold out, concert-goers can wait in the lobby for unclaimed tickets to be released shortly before the concert begins.