Symphony for Beginners


Introduction to Attending a Symphony Performance

For those new to classical music, a symphony performance may seem daunting. Put your mind at ease, the most important aspect of attending any symphony performance, regardless of it's the first time, or if one is a seasoned concert-goer, is to relax, listen and watch, and enjoy yourself.

The best form of entertainment is live, with musicians producting music in unison, playing the piece as if for only you. Keep in mind, the extraordinarily talented ASO musicians as they play on stage enjoy your presence as much as you'll enjoy theirs. As an audience member, you are as important as the musicians on stage. Without you, there'd be no music.

A large number of the symphonies written, classics to contemporary, tell a story. In the place of words a group of musicians on stage tell a composer's story through music. The music played by the symphony is there to make you feel emotion, capture a mood, challenge the mind, paint a scene, transcend and transport you to another world.

Live classical music is a visual treat as well. Watch the conductor wave his baton evoking the movement of the piece. See the musicians on stage flowing, working as one, creating aural magic before your ears and eyes. A symphony performance is an experience for your mind, body, and soul.

What to Wear

The ASO has no dress code. We encourage concertgoers to dress however they feel most comfortable. Some come dressed up for a serious night out on the town, others come in jeans. The point of a symphony performance is enjoy yourself, not what to wear.

When to Arrive

Performances start at their designated time, in many cases, you will not be allowed in while a piece is playing. Plan on arriving a half hour early so you can stroll through the lobby, casually find your seat, sit down, relax. and enjoy the show.

About the Music

There's no requirement to know the music to be played during each performance. In fact, sometimes hearing a piece for the first time live is the best way to experience and discover music as it's treating all your senses at once.

While listening to classical music in your home, car, or elsewhere is nutrition for your mind , expanding your world, you need not a degree in music to enjoy a symphony. Come with open ears and a sense of wonder. Listen to every piece like it's an experience, because it is. If you happen to know the piece, all the better, you'll be entertained at how each piece is delivered, ever one slightly different but no less great.

Turn Off Mobile Devices

One should respect not only the musicians playing for you, but out of courtesy to everyone trying to enjoy the performance, please, turn off all electronic devices. Some pieces get very quiet, should your cell phone go off, you may be asked to leave. Before you sit down to enjoy the show, turn your phones off as even on vibrate others around you can often hear the buzzing noise. Also no texting, light from within the audience, while not normally distractive to the orchestra, is a distraction for everyone around you.

No Taking Pictures

Photography is not permitted inside the concert hall, before or during the performance. If you take any photos or video you will be escorted and may be asked to delete documents. One exception, when the ASO has guest artists or composers, if they're selling CDs or in the lobby, based purely on their discretion, if you wish to have your picture taken with them that may be permittable, but be respective of their time and presence.


The majority of shows have an intermission. This is a good time to stretch your legs and move around if you wish. Note, an intermission is only 20 minutes long, be sure to get back to your seats before the second half of the concert begins so you're not disturbing other people trying to work your way down a row or aisle. Also, for Regions/EBSCO Masterworks concerts, if you don't return to your seat by the end of intermission you may not be allowed by in until the next piece is finished.