First Timer's Guide to the Orchestra

Your first trip to the orchestra can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know what to expect. We’re here to help with that! Here are some commonly asked questions.

What is the difference between a symphony, an orchestra, and a philharmonic?

The short answer is: NOTHING! Among the top tier orchestras in the US are the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony. The word “orchestra” refers to a group of musicians performing a concert. “Symphony” means harmony. “Philharmonic” is the love of harmony. Different orchestras may choose their names based on how it sounds with their city or state name, to differentiate it from other orchestras in the same city or area, or just because they like one better than the others.

How long are the performances?

Most concerts last approximately 2 hours, including a 15 minute intermission. Any significant exceptions to this will be noted on the individual concert page on our website. Each performance is divided into two parts with an intermission in the middle.

When should I clap?

Generally, you clap only after a piece is finished. For example, if you’re listening to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, which has four movements, it is generally considered appropriate to only 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 short pause between movements, although sometimes there is no discernible gap. If you’re unsure, you’ll know the piece is over when Maestro Confessore turns around to face the audience. However, even though the norm is to remain quiet between movements, if you are moved to clap after a particularly exciting movement, feel free to clap away!

How many musicians are on stage?

Typically there are approximately 65 musicians on stage. The number of musicians depends on the piece being performed. At times we’ve had a smaller orchestra, and at other times, we’ve had as many as 100 musicians on stage.

What kind of accommodations does the King Center provide for patrons with disabilities and impairments?

The King Center offers a variety of accommodations for guests with ADA requirements. Please speak to an usher for more information.

I have another question that wasn’t answered here. Who can I contact?

The BSO Office Staff is happy to assist you! Give us a call Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (321) 345-5052. You can also email our Director of Communications, Laura Sayer, at 

To learn about BSO Season Subscription options, please call the BSO Office at (321) 345-5052.

BSO Office hours are 9am-5pm Monday through Friday.

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