Concert Etiquette

Coming to an AYO concert? Read up on concert etiquette for audiences here!

We’re so glad you are planning to come to an AYO concert thank you!  We suggest you take a moment to familiarise yourself with symphony concert etiquette to maximise your enjoyment of the concert and that of your fellow audience members!  And don’t forget that the musicians have put many hours into preparing for this concert and want to give their very best possible performance – undistracted!  So:

  • Arrive early – be seated 10 minutes prior to the performance start time. If you must arrive late, wait until the end of the piece and take your seat during the applause.
  • Be entirely silent while the music is being played - the cardinal principle is to let others listen to the music undisturbed:
    • avoid conversation
    • suppress coughs and sneezes until a loud passage arrives, and muffle these with handkerchiefs (have one handy)
    • electronic devices are turned off
    • sit still: no noisy page turning of the programme, rustling of lolly wrappers, searching handbags for tissues etc.
    • do not leave your seat while music is playing unless there is an emergency.
    • no photography or video recording is permitted.
  • When to clap? Applause between the movements of a symphony or suite is regarded as a distraction from the momentum and unity of a work. It is usually considered something of a faux pas, though a minor and well-meaning one.  Sometimes it is the purpose of the conductor to maintain a fairly long silence after the last notes of a piece; this is an especially likely choice for pieces with quiet endings. The audience can be signalled not to applaud immediately through the device of the conductor keeping her hands lifted (as if still leading the orchestra), then lowering them when the intended silence is over. Thus in a way the conductor is "conducting the audience" as part of a performance ritual. Such efforts are usually heeded, at least by experienced audiences.
  • Dress expectations – think ‘smart casual’ for most concerts. Hats are removed as they block others' view of the stage. Dress up if it’s advertised as a formal occasion.
  • Coming with a small child? It’s wonderful to expose children who are ready to sit quietly for some time to this music but we do ask that you plan to arrive extra early to allow time for the child to have a comfort stop before the concert starts. Please ensure you are seated at the end of a row near an exit - it can be infuriating for audiences to be disturbed in their listening by people moving about the concert hall.   In general, symphony concerts are a serious business and can be quite a marathon for children.  If you are looking to give your child a ‘classical music’ experience, bear in mind that shorter concerts with short works tend to be most suitable for young children.