Attending a symphony concert is a wonderful experience, filled with beautiful music, elegant surroundings, and a sense of occasion, but can sometimes feel intimidating. To make the most of your visit to the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (NSO), here are some tips and information to help you prepare for your concert night.

Click on each heading below to learn more about What to Know Before You Go


Arrive Early

Plan to arrive at the venue at least 30 minutes before the concert starts. This gives you plenty of time to find parking, pick up your tickets from the box office if needed, and locate your seats without feeling rushed. Arriving early also allows you to settle in and soak up the atmosphere before the performance begins.

Additionally, for some concerts there may be so pre-concert music, entertainment or speakers on the concourse prior to the main performance.

Enjoying the Experience

Attending a symphony concert is more than just listening to music; it’s about immersing yourself in the entire experience. Here are a few additional tips to enhance your enjoyment:

  • Listen Actively: Pay attention to the different instruments and how they interact with each other. Notice the dynamics, rhythms, and melodies, and how they evoke various emotions.
  • Learn and Explore: Don’t hesitate to learn more about the music and composers before or after the concert. This can deepen your appreciation and understanding of the performance.
  • Share the Experience: Attending a concert with friends or family can make the experience even more enjoyable. Share your thoughts and impressions during intermission or after the concert, and discuss your favorite moments.

Dress Code

While there is no strict dress code for NSO concerts, many attendees enjoy dressing up for the occasion. Business casual attire is common, but you’ll also see people in everything from jeans to formal wear. The key is to feel comfortable and enjoy the evening.

For select concerts at the Arts & Culture Centre, the coat check will be open. At the D.F. Cook Recital Hall at Memorial University there is an area to hang up your coat, however this area is no supervised and is at your own risk.

Before the Concert
  • Explore the Program: Take some time to read the concert program, which is usually available online before the event, or scan the QR code before entering the main theatre or on the pillars inside the theatre, and in print at the venue. The program provides valuable information about the pieces being performed, the composers, and the performers.
  • Visit the Bar and Concessions: Concerts at the Arts & Culture offer refreshments for purchase before the performance and during intermission. Enjoy a drink from our friends at Spirit Newfoundland to enhance your concert experience. You can even pre-order your drinks here.
  • Food & Beverages: We all love to eat, drink and be merry, but unfortunately, food and beverages (with the exception of bottled water and beverages in approved ACC cups) are not permitted in the ACC. But not to worry: There are vending machines and a cash bar available on site! (The NSO even has special feature drinks available for certain concerts—check the programs on the concert listing page for more info!) Eating or drinking in the hall can be very disruptive to others enjoying the concert.
During the Concert
  • Silence Your Devices: Before the concert starts, make sure to silence your phone and other electronic devices to avoid disruptions.
  • Applause Etiquette: It’s customary to applaud when the concertmaster (the lead violinist) takes the stage, and again when the conductor and soloists enter. During the performance, it’s best to wait until the end of a complete piece before applauding. If you’re unsure, follow the lead of other audience members.
  • Stay Seated and Quiet: Once the music begins, remain seated and quiet to fully appreciate the performance and respect the musicians and fellow audience members. If you need to leave for any reason, try to do so during a break between pieces or movements.
  • Concert Length: Sometimes, we can’t help but get carried away by the music. For this reason, performance length may vary. But a regular NSO concert runs approximately two hours with one intermission. Some performances may run shorter or longer depending on piece length or guest artist. You can find the length of each individual piece on each concert description on our concert listing page and in our concert program.

Most symphony concerts include an intermission, usually lasting around 20 minutes. This is a great time to stretch your legs, visit the restroom, or grab a refreshment. The program will indicate the timing of the intermission, so you’ll know when to expect it. There is no intermission during the Messiah.

If you’re the type that needs a breath of fresh air every now and then, note that some concerts have no intermission; details for each NSO concert are available on the concert listing page.

After the Concert
  • Express Your Appreciation: Applauding at the end of the performance shows your appreciation for the musicians’ hard work and talent. Standing ovations are a way to show exceptional appreciation and are often reserved for particularly outstanding performances.
  • Meet the Musicians: Some concerts offer opportunities to meet the musicians or the conductor after the performance. NSO musicians and guest artists sometimes come to the lobby following performances.

Can’t tell a Brahms symphony from a Bach prelude? If so, don’t fret. You don’t need any experience or knowledge of classical music to enjoy a symphony concert. But a little background info always helps enhance the experience. That’s why we include information on musical selections and our guest artists as well as our Spotify playlists on the concert listing page for each NSO concert.

We also host a pre-show talk called “Listen Up” before each Masterworks show. Just follow your ears to the upper concourse of the Arts and Culture Centre! Listen Up begins at 7:15pm

What if I arrive late? If you arrive after the concert has started, you’ll typically need to wait until a suitable break in the performance before being seated. This is to avoid disturbing other patrons and the performers.

Can I bring children to the concert? Children are welcome at many NSO concerts, especially those specifically designed for younger audiences. Be sure to check the concert’s suitability for children when purchasing tickets. Programs like the Gerry Germain Family Plan make it easier for families to attend together.

What if I need assistance? Concert venues usually have staff available to assist you with finding your seat, locating restrooms, or answering any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if needed.


We want as many people as possible to be able to share in the joy of music. The Arts and Culture Centre is fully wheelchair accessible. As wheelchair seating is limited, we ask that you please book in advance. We also have a limited number of hearing assist devices that can be reserved when ordering tickets. Please let the Box Office know of any special needs when ordering tickets.

DF Cook Recital Hall at Memorial University’s School of Music is wheelchair accessible with two spaces available at the back of the hall.

There are also accessibility accommodations available at our other venues. For further details, please contact the NSO office (722-4441).

CONCERT ETIQUETTE & Photography Policy

Human beings need to cough sometimes. If you’ve got the urge, wait for a loud passage of music so you can try to fly under the radar. If you catch a bad case of the coughs, the appropriate thing to do would be to quietly exit the concert hall. For performances at the ACC, ushers will assist in getting you to the closest exit. They will also inform you when you are able to re-enter the auditorium during a suitable break in the performance. If you have lozenges for a cough, please unwrap them ahead of time to have handy during the performance.

There’s nothing like a symphony selfie to remember the night! You are welcome to take pictures inside the concert halls before and after the concert, and at intermission. We love to see the concert through the eyes of our patrons so please tag us on any pictures you post online. Check out our social media accounts here.

As a courtesy to musicians, guest artists, and fellow concertgoers, we ask that put your phone away during the performance. Flash photography is forbidden at all times. The use of cameras, smartphones, and/or other recording devices for commercial reproduction or sale is strictly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.


A wonderful aroma can be hard to resist, but for the consideration of others, we strive to make all NSO events scent-free. We urge you to refrain from using any scented personal products when attending NSO events. Please keep in mind that the comfort and health of our patrons and employees can be compromised by the presence of scents in our environment as they can sometimes trigger asthma and other scent-related ailments.