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What to Expect — a Choral Concert FAQ

Q:

When should I get there?

A:

We suggest you plan to be at the concert hall at least 15-20 minutes before the performance begins. These extra minutes will give you time to enjoy the architecture of the hall, use the restroom, find your seat, take a look at the concert program, turn off your cell phone, unwrap any cough lozenges, people-watch, socialize and do anything else you might like to do before the lights go down and the concert starts.

This buffer time does not include the time it takes to park. Allow for another 15-30 minutes to find your parking spot in the parking structure or neighborhood and walk to the venue.

If you will be picking up your tickets at the will call window at the box office, give yourself a few extra minutes.

Many people enjoy the insightful Concert Previews we often offer prior to concerts. These Previews begin one hour prior to the concert.

Q:

Can I bring food or beverages into the hall?

A:

For most concerts, cough lozenges are the only type of food item permitted inside the concert hall itself. Food and drinks are available at many venues in the lobby before the concert and during intermissions, although items need to be consumed before entering the concert hall. Occasionally, concerts will be set up as "cabaret-style," that is, chairs are set around small tables rather than in rows, and refreshments may be included as part of the concert-going experience. Outside food is not permitted.

Q:

What should I wear?

A:

This is Southern California and our relaxed cultural sensibilities do spill over into the concert-going world as everywhere else. That being said, audiences attending concerts in beautiful halls such as the new Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, or Meng Concert Hall do tend to treat the occasion with a bit of attention. Audiences tend to choose outfits that they'd wear to, say, a nice restaurant for a special occasion, rather than something they'd wear to a baseball game. During the holidays, you'll see a few more special outfits including a few fancier dresses and suits and a tux or two, but generally people's clothing reflects the idea that they see it as a nice night out.

If you enjoy wearing cologne and perfume, please note that you will be sitting in close proximity to others and many singers are sensitive to strong fragrances, so if in doubt, go lightly on your choice of scent.

Q:

Can I bring my child to a concert?

A:

While we love to open up children to the beauty of classical and choral music, we also know it can be difficult for some children to quietly sit still through an entire concert. Children are definitely welcome to attend our annual holiday concert, Tis the Season! For other concerts, please bear in mind the age and maturity level of your child. Younger children and toddlers can become restless and disruptive. In such cases, they are best left with a babysitter for the evening.

Q:

When should I applaud?

A:

This is a very common question, so don't be embarrassed that you're unsure—many people around you will be wondering the same thing. The basic rule of thumb is to clap at the end of each piece. Since many pieces of classical music have several movements of differing tempos and styles within them, sometimes knowing when a piece has finished isn't always easy. The concert program will list all of the movements within a piece, so you can follow along. If you lose track, just watch the conductor — his or her arms will drop and relax when it's time to clap. Or just wait until others begin to clap.

It is also customary to clap at the beginning of the concert when the conductor and, if there's an orchestra, the concertmaster (the principal first violinist) walk onto the stage after the house lights dim. If you're unsure who the concertmaster is, the hint is he or she will be carrying a violin!

The cheering and whistling that you hear from excited fans at popular music concerts aren't quite as common at a classical concert, though we can say Pacific Chorale performances have brought out many thrilled "whoops" from our audience lately! Instead you might hear a hearty "Bravo" (or "Brava" for a female soloist or conductor).

The standing ovation, or "standing O," is a way of indicating strong approval or appreciation for a particularly good performance. Please don't feel it is mandatory or expected. We are happy to receive whatever expression of acknowledgement you would like to convey.