Orchestra 101

First Time at the Orchestra?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

How long is a concert?

A typical performance is 90 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.  Most of our concerts start at 8:00 p.m. and end at 10:00 p.m. but there are some exceptions to this. Be sure to arrive early in order to mingle, have a drink, or listen to one of our fascinating pre-concert talks.

Can I wear my jeans? Or is there a dress code?

Many people have the false impression that they need to be dressed to ‘the nines’ in order to attend an orchestral performance. Fear not! We encourage you to wear whatever you feel most comfortable in. Some people enjoy dressing up for the occasion, while others prefer wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It’s really up to you. Whatever you choose to wear is fine by us!

When should I clap?

We always appreciate hearing your applause and enthusiasm if you’ve enjoyed a specific work we have performed. Typically, concert goers wait until the final movement of a work before they applaud. If you are unsure of when a specific piece is finished, you can consult the program to see the title of the work and its movements. If you are still unsure whether the piece is finished, focus your attention on the conductor. Once the piece is finished they will lower their arms and turn to face the audience.

Can I bring my child to the Orchestra?

As a general guide we recommend that children should be 6 or older, but we leave it up to your discretion. In our experience, younger children often have a hard time remaining quiet and sitting still for the length of the performance, but we leave that up to you!

If you don’t feel comfortable bringing your child, we do have incredible family programming that may be better suited for them.

I don’t know anything about classical music? How can I learn more before the concert?

Before many of our concerts we host free pre-concert chats called “Musically Speaking.” They start at 7:00 p.m. and will give you a deeper understanding of the meaning behind the notes of the repertoire you will hear during the performance. These talks are given by classical music experts, guest conductors or our Musical Director Alexander Shelley. They also explore the fascinating details about the composers, musicians and genre of music you will hear.

Another great way to learn more is by listening to our NACO podcasts, or by reading the detailed descriptions in our house programs handed out before you take your seat. These program notes are also available online a week before each performance, giving you ample time to learn more about each specific work.

Can I bring my drink into the concert hall?

On certain occasions we do permit you to bring drinks into the hall but this is not the case for every show. Make sure you visit our website to learn if the concert you will attend allows you to bring your drink with you. If it isn’t, you will have plenty of time to have a drink before the show or during intermission.

Can I take photos and videos during the performance?

When you take photos or videos during the concert it is distracting for the musicians and the patrons who are around you. You can certainly take photos or video before the performance, at intermission or after the concert but we ask that you refrain from doing so while the concert is taking place.

How can I share my concert-going experience with others?

We would love for you to share photos of your experience at a National Arts Centre Orchestra concert – or NACO for short! Make sure you tag us on our official Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. You can also find us on YouTube and learn more about our ongoing activities across Canada. And don’t forget to follow the NAC on Instagram!

Menu