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Classical music can seem daunting to some first-time concertgoers, but there’s no reason to stress. Relax and enjoy the music. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about classical concerts, intended to help make your first visit to the Auburn Symphony a pleasing and memorable experience.
The term “classical music” covers a wide range of musical styles spanning hundreds of years, from a Bach concerto to a Brahms rhapsody, from a 19th century Schubert symphony to a contemporary tone poem by John Adams. Generally, classical music is played by a symphonic ensemble comprised of strings (violins, violas, cellos, and basses), woodwinds (clarinets, oboes, flutes, and bassoons), brass (trumpets, French horns, trombones, and tubas), and percussion (drums, xylophones, and bells), or some combination of these instruments.
Absolutely. Classical music is exciting, surprising, and often funny. When you hear Haydn’s “Surprise” Symphony, you’ll know why he called it that. You’ll find yourself hanging on every note of the third movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Ives’ Three Places in New England will make you laugh. Strauss’ s thrilling Also sprach Zarathustra will fill you with a sense of awe.
You’ll probably recognize far more than you would have imagined. Many of today’s popular songs, television shows, and movies use or are based on classical themes, including the “Lone Ranger” theme (Rossini’s William Tell Overture), the Bugs Bunny cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” (Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries), United Airlines television commercials (Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue), and many others.
Contrary to what many people think, formal attire—such as tuxedos and evening gowns—is not required at Symphony concerts. In fact, most people only wear comfortable casual to formal clothing.
Generally, you clap only after a piece is finished. For example, if you’re listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, which has four movements, it is appropriate to clap only after the last movement. You can look at your program to find out how many movements a piece has. Usually, there is a 15- to 30-second pause between movements. So, in the case of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, you know you’re hearing the Finale after three pauses. If you’re unsure, you can wait for the rest of the audience to clap before you join in.
Please silence cell phones and pagers before entering the concert hall. Noises such as a pager going off or a cell phone ringing are very distracting to your fellow audience members, the conductor, and the musicians. Recording the concert is prohibited.
Coughing can be an unavoidable problem. But there are ways to avoid coughing during the music. If you feel a cold coming on, please bring lozenges with you. During winter months, free cough drops are located throughout the lobby. Any usher can direct you to them. The next step is crucial: Unwrap them ahead of time. Unwrapping a cough drop during the music makes more noise than you might think. If you don’t have a lozenge and you need to cough once or twice, please try to wait for the end of the movement. Also, please don’t talk while the music is playing. Being sensitive to your neighbors allows everyone to have a more pleasant concert experience.
We recommend that you don’t bring children younger than twelve to our regular subscription concerts, which tend to be too long for young children. Kids of all ages, though, will enjoy our Symphony at the Park (in September) our Messiah Sing-Along (in December) and our Family Concert (in March).