New to the Symphony

Here at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra you will discover the magic of great music making in classical, pops, holiday, and family concerts featuring one of America's finest ensembles, the multi-awarded, ever-achieving ASO.

Expect to enjoy yourself! Let go of any ideas you may have about classical music or the concert experience. Open yourself up to the music.

Let it trigger your emotions — maybe even your memories. Feel the rhythms; follow the music. Watch the musicians and the conductor, and see how they interact with each other. Notice how the music ebbs and flows, surging and powerful at some times, delicate and ephemeral at others, and everything in between.

Classical music is all around us
In commercials, movie soundtracks, television themes, cartoons, retail shops, and even some elevators! Popular music often quotes classical melodies, too. While you're listening in the concert to a piece you think you've never heard before, a tune you've heard a hundred times may jump out at you.

Whether or not you've heard the music before the concert, as you listen, you'll notice that each classical piece uses its own group of several tunes over and over, in different ways.

You'll start to "recognize" these melodies as a work progresses. Listen for the ways a melody is repeated: Is it exactly the same as the first time, or with a different character? Do the same instruments or different ones play the melody? Does it start the same as before, but go off in a different direction? Or start differently and surprise you by developing into the tune you recognize from earlier in the piece?

There is no dress code.
Anything that makes you feel comfortable 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, and you can, too. Still, evening gowns and tuxedos are pretty rare unless you've bought tickets for a fancy gala—and if you have, you'll know! If you do decide to dress up, though, go easy on the cologne, which can distract others near you and even prompt them to sneeze — and may distract you.

Plan to arrive 20 minutes before concert time, so you can find your seat, turn off your cell phone, take a look at your surroundings, absorb the atmosphere, and have time to glance through the program book. You won't be alone.

Most concertgoers make a point of coming early to read the program notes to familiarize yourself with what you are about to hear. Rushing to your seat at the last minute doesn't really give you enough time to get settled, so you may not fully enjoy the first piece on the program. And there's another good reason to come early: Most concerts start on time. If you're late, you may end up listening from the lobby! If that happens, the usher will allow you inside during a suitable pause in the program, so your arrival won't disturb other concertgoers.

“Inside the Music” Concert Previews
The Atlanta Symphony provides free concert previews before each Thursday classical subscription concert. Hosted by Ken Meltzer, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Insider, the Previews offer an entertaining and informative look at the music featured on the concert program. Special guests often join Ken to offer their unique insights as well. “Inside the Music” previews take place in Symphony Hall (unless otherwise noted) on Thursday evenings, 7:00-7:30pm.

Most orchestra concerts are about 90 minutes to two hours long, with an intermission at the halfway point. Very often there will be several pieces on the program, but sometimes there is one single work played straight through. It's a good idea to take a look at the program before the concert to get an idea of what to expect.

Most intermissions are 15-20 minutes long, which gives you time to socialize with your companions, get a drink or a snack in the lobby, visit the facilities, or simply sit in your seat and read the program notes. Do whatever puts you in a good frame of mind to hear the second half of the concert.

At the beginning of the concert, the concertmaster will come onstage. The audience claps as a welcome, and as a sign of appreciation to all the musicians. After the orchestra tunes up, the conductor (and possibly a soloist) will come onstage. Everyone claps to welcome them, too. This is also a good moment to look at your program, so you can see the names of the pieces that will be played and their order. Then everything settles down and the music begins. Just listen and enjoy!

The audience doesn't usually applaud again until the end of the piece. In most classical concerts—unlike jazz or pop—the audience never applauds during the music. They wait until the end of each piece, then let loose with applause. But this can be a little tricky, because many pieces seem to end several times — they have several parts, or "movements." These are listed in your program. Above all, enjoy your experience at the ASO! We hope to have you back as a frequent guest.

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