If you are new to classical music, you may be nervous about attending a concert because you’re not sure what to expect. Put your worries away! The most important aspect of attending a symphony orchestra performance is to relax and enjoy yourself. Here are some tips to help you feel at ease.

What should I expect?

Expect to experience some great music! Let go of any preconceptions you may have about classical music or the concert experience. Sit back, let your thoughts go and allow yourself to simply focus on what you hear. Watch Maestra Sarah and the musicians and see how they interact. Feel and listen to the music—the beat, the melody and the way the tunes make you feel.

PRO TIP: If you want to learn about the music before the concert, check out the notes in the program guide. You will receive a copy when you arrive or you can read them ahead of time online.

When should I arrive?

The lobby opens one hour prior to curtain time. Please try to arrive at least 30 minutes before the curtain rises.
Late arrivals will be seated when there is an appropriate break in the performance.

What should I wear?

The short answer is “you do you!” Many guests wear business or slightly dressy attire, but you’ll see everything from khakis or jeans with a nice shirt to dresses and suits. Please refrain from wearing anything that might hinder others’ experience, such as large hats or strong perfumes.

PRO TIP: We want you to fully enjoy the concert, so dress in a way that makes you comfortable.

I don’t know anything about classical music. Do I need to study?

There’s no need to study—just come and enjoy! However, if you want to learn more about the music and/or composer, you can read the program notes ahead of time (you will also receive the season program when you arrive). Some patrons also listen to the works on a streaming service like Pandora or Spotify or watch YouTube videos to prepare for the live performance.

For the best information about our Classics concerts, arrive early to attend our Pre-concert Talks. PLU Professor Greg Youtz hosts these conversations about the concert program with Music Director Sarah Ioannides, our guest soloists and composers, as available. The Pre-Concert Talks begin at 6 pm in the theater preceding each Classics series concert.

When do I applaud?

The rule of thumb is to applaud only at the end of a piece and not between movements. Typically Maestra Sarah will keep her back towards the audience during the silence between movements (DON’T CLAP). At the end of the piece, she will slowly lower her hands and turn to face the audience (CLAP NOW).

PRO TIP: If you’re uncertain, wait for others to clap first.

Can I check my phone during the concert?

It is an important part of the concert experience to remain as quiet and still as possible during the performance. Having your phone out can be disruptive to those around you not only because of the noise but also the light it projects. Also, flash photography and personal recordings of our concerts are prohibited. So silence your phone, unplug and enjoy the music—but by all means check in, tag us and post your selfies before or after the concert!

How long is the concert?

Most of our concerts are between 1 1/2 and 2 hours long, including a 20-minute intermission.

Should I bring my kids?

It depends. Generally speaking, we recommend our Classics concerts for kids ages twelve or older. However, if your child has a real interest in classical music, attending a concert with him or her may be a wonderful experience for your family. Be sure to take advantage of our ticket discounts for youth!

PRO TIP: For younger children, we offer our Mini Maestros series which introduces kids to the symphony with more approachable and interactive concerts.

What if I have to get up and leave during the performance?

If you must leave your seat, please do so between pieces—preferably when the audience is applauding. Or better yet, wait for intermission (every concert includes a 20-minute intermission).

PRO TIP: If you have a cough, you might want to have a cough drop unwrapped and ready.

Are refreshments at the theater?

The Pantages Theater has snacks and beverages available for purchase in the lobby prior to the concert and at intermission. At most concerts, you can bring your refreshments with you to your seat, but please be mindful of packaging that may be noisy to open.