Symphony 101


We love that you are reading this page!  It means that you will be joining us for an upcoming performance and/or this is your first time at a BSO concert.  First, we can’t wait to see you at our performance!  Second, we know that there may be lots of questions you may have about attending symphony performances.   We get it…symphony concerts have a certain stigma and can seem intimidating.  It’s just the opposite! Symphony concerts are full of energy and excitement that can create musical memories to last a lifetime!

So, before you go and experience a concert, we’ve put together a list of our most commonly asked questions for you.  If you don’t see your question below give us a call at the BSO office at (321) 242-2024.  You can also email uspost your question on our Facebook page or send us a tweet via Twitter!


Click on each question for the answer.

  • Absolutely!  You hear a good deal of symphonic music on a daily basis.  From movies to television, commercials to video games, symphony music is all around us!

  • Children are welcomed to all symphony performances.  If their attention span starts to wain, an usher may ask you to take him or her outside the auditorium.  Just in case, we suggest purchasing seats closer to the end of the rows for a speedy exit.

    We also suggest to introduce the little ones to the symphony through our FREE 4th of July Concert and our Annual FREE Family Concert.  These concerts are great for kids to get to know the symphony

    All patrons, regardless of age, must have a ticket to enter the theater. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian and must have a ticket for a seat adjacent to the adult.

  • There is no dress code! Anything that makes you feel comfortable, and is family-friendly, is fine. Most people will be wearing business clothes or slightly dressy casual clothes, but you’ll see everything from khakis to cocktail dresses. Some people enjoy dressing up and making a special night of it. If you do decide to dress up, though, go easy on the cologne. It can distract others near you and even prompt them to sneeze (which may distract you).  Just remember to keep all outfits family-friendly!

    Want some fashion ideas?  Make sure to check out our “What to Wear…What to Wear?” board on Pinterest!

  • Early bird gets the worm…or, in this case, avoids the rush at the door.  By arriving early, you avoid the parking lot rush, long lines at the door and will call lines.  You can also enjoy a stroll through the King Center lobby art gallery and purchase refreshments.  Plus, prior to concert featuring masterworks, Maestro Confessore hosts an interactive chat in the main hall.  He’ll discuss the pieces, why they were chosen and more. Main floor seating is open at this time, so feel free to sit up front and ask questions.  The chat begins approximately 40 minutes before the performance and lasts about 20 minutes.  Afterwards, you’ll have plenty of time to head to your seat or grab a drink in the lobby.

  • Most concerts are two hours, including a 15 minute intermission. Any significant exceptions to this will be noted on the individual concert page on our web site.  Each performance is divided into two parts with an intermission in the middle.  This is a great time to talk and get to know your seat neighbor, stretch your legs or propose to a future fiancée.

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

    Most orchestra stages are set in a fan-shaped arrangement: Strings in successive rows – first and second violins to the left, followed by violas, cellos and double basses, usually to the right. The strings are always upfront, backed deeper in the orchestra by woodwinds (flutes, clarinets, oboes, English horn, bassoons and contra-bassoon) and brasses (French horns, trumpets, trombones and tuba), with the various percussion (timpani, side drum, bass drum, cymbals, etc.) toward the rear.

    Once the orchestra is seated, the last player to walk onto the stage is the first violinist, or “concertmaster,” who bows to applause, then asks the principal oboist to sound an “A”, to which the orchestra tunes. After the orchestra has tuned, the conductor will walk onstage. This is a good time to silence your cell phone!

  • Yes!  Due to the acoustics in the concert hall, any sound, no matter how small, can be heard on stage by the orchestra, even as far away as the back row.

  • Concessions are available for purchase at the King Center prior to, and during intermission, of all our performances.  An ATM is located in the front lobby of the King Center for your convenience.

  • AH!  The BIG question!

    For new symphony listeners, one of the biggest worries is when to applaud.   This question also tends to create a huge stir and here’s why:  Back in the day, symphony performances were like rock concerts are today.  Crowds would clap, talk, yell and were very noisy during performances.  When the clock struck midnight in 1900, or thereabouts, it became the norm to remain quiet between movements and only clap at the end of the piece.  There isn’t a rule somewhere that says you have to do so.  So, you shouldn’t feel awkward or weird for clapping when the music makes you want to express joy for it.   If you love what you are experiencing, show it!  We’ve even had a patron yell “Yee-haw” at the end of Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo.”  It was great!

    If you’re still in doubt, wait and watch the conductor. Maestro will lower his hands when the piece is complete. If you were thrilled with the performance and the conductor has turned to acknowledge the applause, at this time you can cheer or yell “Encore, Encore!”

  • We’ve got you covered!  See us in the lobby at the BSO table for complimentary herbal cough drops.

  • Prior to a performance, you are welcomed to take pictures and video to share with family and friends.  During a performance though, an usher may ask you to put away your device if you are seen taking photography or recording video.  It’s not just about copyrights and all that…if your phone is on, it could be distracting to those around you.

  • First…Don’t panic!  We have two options available to make sure you get to the performance on time:

    • All ticket holders:  Lost ticket passes can be obtained from the King Center Box Office the same day as the concert at no charge.  You will need a valid I.D. when requesting and must match name on order of purchase.
    • For subscribers:  If you would like to avoid the lines at the box office the day of the concert and have tickets mailed to you, tickets can be reprinted at a cost of $3 per ticket.  All requests must be made at least two weeks prior to the concert to allow for ample mailing time.  We send all tickets via the USPS, first class.
  • If you’ve purchased tickets and are no longer able to go, or find a friend to give them to, please make sure to let us know by donating them back to us!  Although, we can’t issue a refund, we can mail you a letter acknowledging your tax-deductible contribution.   We will be happy to find a local student or other person in the community to give them to on your behalf!

    Tickets should be turned in anytime up to 24 hours in advance of your concert. We will be unable to accept any tickets for tax deduction purposes after the concert has begun or passed.  Questions?  Call us at (321) 242-2024.  

    Please note that ticket donations must be made through the BSO office and not the King Center.

  • Ticket proceeds only cover approximately one-third of the orchestra’s expenses. Through hundreds of BSO supporters like you, we are able to provide you with six exciting subscription performances as well as many others each season.    If you love what you experienced, help us bring these concerts to life!  $10 goes a long way…Give Now!

  • The King Center offers a variety of accommodations for guests with disabilities and impairments.  You can visit their website or call the Box Office at (321) 242-2219 for more information.