If you are attending your first performance at Symphony Center, below are some frequently asked questions to help make your experience more enjoyable.
- When should I arrive?
When should I arrive?
We try our best to begin all concerts on time. With that in mind, you should give yourself enough time to comfortably reach your seats prior to the concert time, taking into consideration your parking needs and whether you will need to wait in line at Will Call to pick up your tickets. In general, we recommend arriving at Symphony Center 30 to 40 minutes prior to the concert start time.
- What if I arrive late for my concert?
What if I arrive late for my concert?
We try our best to begin all concerts on time. If you
arrive late, you can listen to the concert over the monitors located throughout
Symphony Center. There are also video monitors at the bars on floors 1, 5 and
6. Some concerts — but not all — may have designated pauses, in which late
arrivals can be seated at the discretion of the ushers. We recommend that you
wait close to your seating area's entrance so that we can seat you as soon as
possible if there is a pause. If for any reason your ticketed seat may be too
far away to reach during the brief pause, we will escort you to the nearest
available seat so that you can hear the concert. Please note: Because not all
concerts will have pauses or an intermission for late seating, we recommend
that you call us at 312-294-3000 to verify the late seating policy for a
- What if I have to leave a concert early?
What if I have to leave a concert early?
If you have to leave a concert before its end, please
do so between program works. Please note: Because not all concerts will have
additional pauses between works or an intermission, you may not be able to
re-enter the hall after you depart.
- How long is a typical
How long is a typical
Program length varies, but a typical Chicago
Symphony Orchestra performance lasts about two hours, including one
intermission. Most other events run about the same length, some a little
shorter, some a little longer. You can always call us at 312-294-3000 for an
- Can I take pictures?
Can I take pictures?
Cameras as well as other recording devices in Orchestra Hall can create
major distractions for the musicians and audience members around you. As a
result, no still, video cameras or tape recorders are permitted. All equipment
should be checked with the house manager prior to entering the
- Can I bring my children?
Can I bring my children?
Symphony Center welcomes children eight years of age and older. Some
concerts, including CSO Family Matinees and special kid-oriented programs, are
open to children of all ages. Please call 312-294-3000 for a list of these
special performances. All children, regardless of age, must have their own
tickets for all performances.
- Can I bring my cell phone?
Can I bring my cell phone?
Patrons carrying cell phones, wearing alarm watches and/or electronic
paging systems are requested to turn them off before entering the concert hall.
Please contact the house manager before entering the auditorium if emergency
notification might be required.
- How does the seat numbering work?
How does the seat numbering work?
Odd-number seats are located on the left side of the Hall, and
even-numbered seats are located on the right. For example, seat 101
is on the left and located next to 103; seat 2 is on the right and
located next to seat 4. The balconies, Terrace, and Gallery are
numbered in this manner. The Main Floor is numbered in double digits
(odd numbers on the left, even numbers on the right); the center is numbered in
consecutive triple digits.
- What is your Box Seating policy?
What is your Box Seating policy?
Box seating is on a first-come first-serve basis and is general
admission. It has been the long standing tradition at Symphony Center
to rotate seats within the boxes at intermission.
- What is your Will Call policy?
What is your Will Call policy?
If you purchased student web tickets or tickets for an event that is
less than seven days away, we will automatically hold the tickets at the
- What should I wear?
What should I wear?
Attending a concert at Symphony Center is always a special occasion;
therefore, most patrons enjoy dressing up a bit. Today's standards for
business formal dress or business casual dress are both acceptable for
concerts at Orchestra Hall. Jeans, shorts and t-shirts are discouraged. After
all, the musicians will be wearing their finest (tuxedos or suits on the men
and gowns on the women). It is also recommended that patrons refrain from
using strong perfumes and colognes so as not to distract the patrons sitting
- When do I clap?
When do I clap?
in classical music, such as a Beethoven symphony or Mozart piano concerto, have
three or more movements or sections. A short pause usually falls in between
each of them. It has become customary over time not to clap during these short
pauses. To find out the number of movements (and corresponding number of
pauses) in a piece, turn to the program page in your program book. You will
find that each work is subdivided by movement (usually indicated by tempo
markings in Italian). After the last movement, clap to your heart's content.
- What if I have to cough?
What if I have to cough?
In an effort to help reduce distracting noises and enhance the
concert-going experience, the Walgreen Corporation provides complimentary cough
suppressant tablets to patrons attending all concerts. Cough drop dispensers,
subject to availability, are located throughout Orchestra Hall.
Disclaimers and Helpful Links