Frequently Asked Questions
If you are attending your first performance at Symphony Center, below are some answers to frequently asked questions that will help make your experience more enjoyable.
How do I contact Patron Services?
I ordered an eTicket? When will I receive it?
If you ordered eTickets, you will receive two emails. The first email is an order confirmation and the other will come 12 days before the performance from email@example.com and include your eTickets. In addition, your eTickets can be opened in your account section the day of the performance.
If you have not received your eTicket, check your spam filter or junk mail folder and contact Patron Services for assistance if you are still unable to locate your eTicket.
What if I arrive late?
Most concerts begin promptly at the scheduled start time. We recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before the concert start time.
Free preconcert conversations begin 75 minutes before CSO Classical concerts. Seating, refreshments and restrooms are available in the Rotunda before the hall opens.
If you arrive late, you can listen to and view the concert on monitors located throughout Symphony Center. During designated pauses in the music, there may be opportunities for late seating. Please note, late seating is at the discretion of house management and may not be available for all concerts and seating locations.
How long is a typical performance?
The program length varies for every concert. Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances usually last about two hours, including one intermission. Most other events run about the same length. Estimated run times are included on the webpage for each individual event when available and are also mentioned in performance reminder emails, sent two days out from each performance. Or, contact Patron Services about one week before a concert for specific timings.
May I use my phone or take photos?
Patrons are welcome to take photos of their visit to Symphony Center and share them. Audio and video recording is strictly prohibited during the performance itself. Before the concert begins, please turn your cell phone or any other electronic device off, or put it on silent mode. Smartphones, cameras and other recording devices are distractions to the performers and other audience members. If you need to leave your electronic device on for important notifications, please consult house management before the performance.
May I bring my children?
Symphony Center welcomes children 8 years of age and older. Some concerts, including family programs, are open to children of all ages. All children, regardless of age, must have their own tickets for all performances.
What is the Box Level experience?
Each box consists of three to eight individual seats that are unnumbered. The tradition is to rotate seating either between works or at intermission. All Box Level patrons have access to a nearby concessions bar and restrooms, and each box has its own coat closet.
What is the Terrace Level experience?
Terrace seating is behind the stage and offers a close-up view of the performers and an exquisite vantage of Orchestra Hall.
Terrace seating is not available for performances that include a screen, like CSO at the Movies, or those that include the Chicago Symphony Chorus. In addition, please refrain from talking during the performance or wearing strong perfume and cologne, as it can distract the performers.
Why are my assigned seats all odd or all even numbers?
Odd-number seats are located on the left side of Orchestra 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.
I can't attend. How do I exchange or donate my tickets?
Exchange requests are subject to availability, and fees or upgrade costs may apply. For ticket donations, you will receive receive a receipt letter that can be used for tax purposes at the end of the calendar year.
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. We encourage you to wear whatever makes you feel most comfortable. For the benefit of all patrons and performers, we ask that you refrain from using strong perfume and cologne.
When should I clap?
Many works, such as a Beethoven symphony or Mozart piano concerto, have separate movements or sections. A short pause usually follows each movement, and it has become customary to refrain from clapping during these pauses. Once the complete piece ends, you are welcome to applaud as enthusiastically as you’d like!
What if I have to cough?
To help reduce distracting noises and enhance the concert experience, Walgreens provides complimentary cough-suppressant drops for patrons. Dispensers are located throughout Orchestra Hall.
I live outside the United States. Is it possible to order tickets?
If you want to order tickets from a country other than the United States, you can order tickets and have them delivered as an eTicket or held at the Box Office. If you have difficulty ordering online, please contact Patron Services.
Are bags or backpacks allowed inside the hall?
Oversized bags must be checked at a coat check, conveniently located throughout Symphony Center. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association also reserves the right to search bags for security reasons.