FAQ

What is classical music?
What is a symphony orchestra?
What should I wear?
Are there any customs that I need to know?
When should I applaud?
When should I arrive?
May I take photos or record the music?
How do I purchase tickets?

What is classical music?

The term “classical music” can be used in two ways. When it’s capitalized, it’s usually referring to a historical period (c. 1730-1820), the time of Mozart and Haydn. The other meaning of “classical music” is much broader, covering the entire canon of Western art music, from Gregorian chant to Philip Glass and beyond. It encompasses a vast range of styles, forms and techniques, but in one respect, classical music differs from other types by its use of music notation, which is used by composers to indicate the pitch, speed, meter, rhythms and overall execution of the music. From the simplest song to massive compositions of mind-bending complexity, classical music often attempts to affect the mind, body and spirit in profound ways; the greatest examples succeed in doing just that.

What is a symphony orchestra?

A symphony orchestra is a large ensemble of musicians who variously play strings (violins, violas, cellos, and basses), woodwinds (clarinets, oboes, flutes, and bassoons), brass (trumpets, French horns, trombones and tubas) or percussion (drums, timpani, bells, etc.). Because of its size (100 or more musicians), an orchestra requires a conductor to keep the players together and present a unified interpretation. Compositions for the orchestra include such works as symphonies and concertos (for soloist and orchestra). Classical music is also written for, and performed by, smaller groups of instruments (“chamber music”) or even by just one or two musicians (“solo recital”).

What should I wear?

The tired stereotype that you must dress formally (tuxedos, evening gowns, etc.) for a classical concert lives on, but only in cartoons and old movies. Never let your wardrobe keep you from a concert! Your experience of the music is what’s important, so wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. As you’ll see, a lot of concertgoers wear business attire or casual business attire. We do ask that you refrain from using strong scents, as they may be distracting to other patrons and the performers.

Are there any customs that I need to know?

Although no special knowledge or experience is needed to enjoy an orchestral concert, certain practices have become customary: After the orchestra is seated, the first person to come on stage is the concertmaster (the lead first violinist), who is greeted with applause and who then initiates the tuning process. Next comes the conductor (with or without soloist), who is again greeted with applause. Once the conductor has bowed and turned towards the orchestra, everyone becomes quiet so the music can begin.

Silence is the canvas on which music is experienced, so for maximum concentration and enjoyment, the audience should be as quiet as possible. In the sensitive acoustics of First Baptist of Augusta, even the slightest noise can be a significant distraction. What would normally go unheard in daily life (whispering, humming, tapping, turning pages, etc.) is noticed by everyone around you. Of course, mobile phones and all other electronic devices must be silenced before the performance begins.

When should I applaud?

This has been the subject of much debate. The tradition for the last hundred years or so has been to clap only at the very end of a piece, no matter how many individual movements there are. (In a recital, the custom is to applaud after a group of pieces, as indicated in the program.) The purpose of waiting is to maintain an unbroken atmosphere so that the piece retains its unity and that any spell the music has cast remains unbroken. But in earlier times, it was not unusual for the audience to respond with spontaneous applause, sometimes even insisting that a movement be repeated before a piece could continue. Today, as more music lovers attend classical programs for the first time, enthusiastic applause does occasionally break out between movements. If you are worried about when to applaud, the safest course is to wait until the conductor has turned around to face the audience and everyone is clapping.

When should I arrive?

It’s a good idea to arrive at least 30 minutes before your concert time (double that, if it’s your first visit). Then you’ll have plenty of time to park, peruse the program and prepare yourself for the experience. Late Seating: In consideration of our artists and patrons, late seating will take place during the first appropriate pause in the program at the discretion of management. Certain programs are performed without intermission; in those cases, late seating may not be available at all. For the convenience of latecomers, the performance can be viewed and heard on monitors throughout the lobbies.

May I take photos or record the music?

The use of any recording devices, including cameras, is not permitted at any time.

How do I purchase tickets?

You have several options:

In person: SOA Office (Monday – Friday 9 am to 5 pm) or one hour prior to concert at concert venue.
Phone: 706-826-4705
Online: SOAUGUSTA.ORG

Group Sales

For groups of ten or more, please contact our office at 706-826-4705.

Patrons with Disabilities

Seating is available at all concerts for those with disabilities. If you have special needs, please contact our office at 706-826-4705 so we can best accommodate you.

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