Info & tips for concertgoers

Info & tips for

Concert FAQs

What should I wear?
There is no dress code for MSO performances, more than anything we want you to be comfortable when you join us. For evening concerts, many patrons come from work in business-appropriate attire or dressed for a night out. For matinees, some patrons dress a bit more casually.

When should I arrive?
Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before the concert start time. This will give you enough time to park, find your seat, look over the program book, and relax before the music begins. You may want to arrive earlier – to have a drink or snack at one of the lobby bars, or to attend the pre-concert Prelude Discussions.

How do I find my seat?
The usher who takes your ticket at the door will be able to give you directions. If you need additional help, just ask any of the ushers as you enter the seating areas. Overture Hall is well equipped with elevators to provide access to all patrons.

How long will the concert run?
Orchestral concerts vary in length depending on the music being performed. Most concerts last between 90 minutes and two hours, including one intermission.

How long is the intermission?
At Madison Symphony Orchestra performances, intermission generally runs twenty minutes. This may vary for certain kinds of performances. A bell will ring shortly before the end of intermission, so that you have enough time to return to your seat before the performance resumes.

Can I take photos?
You are welcome to take photos in the lobby and inside Overture Hall before and after your concert, and during intermission! Please refrain from taking photos or using any other electronic devices once the concert begins.

When do I clap?
There are a few traditions that have developed as orchestral music has evolved over the centuries, including when to applaud. These days, audiences generally applaud to greet the performers and to show appreciation after a performance. Most people clap at the beginning of a concert when the concertmaster (the lead violinist) enters to tune the orchestra – this is in acknowledgement of the concertmaster and the entire orchestra – and then again when the conductor and any soloists come onstage.

Once the music starts, there may be a brief pause between the movements, but people usually reserve their applause until after the final movement of each piece so that the performers and audience can maintain their focus. At the end of the work, the conductor will lower the baton all the way, signaling that the piece is over. At that point, applause is most welcome. You can also check the program book to see how many movements there are, so that you can keep track.

Do I need to know anything about the music before I come?
No. In fact, it can be a wonderful discovery to simply sit down and listen to whatever the orchestra plays. However, some people like to know a bit about the music before they hear it. Read our Program Notes online or in our Program Books for background information about the works, composers, and guest artists on the program.

For even more insight into the music, local and national experts lead our engaging Prelude Discussions one hour before most Madison Symphony Orchestra performances.

Can I bring the kids?
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. However, kids of all ages may enjoy our annual Christmas concerts in December.