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?

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?

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 particular concert.

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 performance?

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 estimated length.

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 auditorium.

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?

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?

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?

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?

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 Box Office.

What should I wear?

At any given Symphony Center concert, you will observe some concertgoers dressed up and others dressed more casually. Many patrons wear business attire or casual business attire, but we invite you to wear whatever makes you feel most comfortable. After all, what matters most is your concert experience, not your concert attire! For the comfort of all patrons, however, we ask that you refrain from using strong perfumes and colognes.

When do I clap?

Many works 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?

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.

Can I order tickets from an address outside of the United States?

Unfortunately, we are unable to process international ticket orders online at this time. To place your ticket order for Symphony Center events, please call Patron Services office toll-free at 1-800-223-7114 or email Patron Services at cso.org/contact.

Do you have a coat check?

Yes, there are multiple coatrooms located throughout Symphony Center. Inquire with an usher before your concert to locate the most convenient coatroom. We want to ensure that you have a comfortable concert experience and therefore encourage checking other large items that do not easily fit below your seat.