If your question isn’t answered here, feel free to give us a call at (802) 864-5741. The most important things to know are that you’re welcome at the VSO, and we’re thrilled you’re joining us!
Where do you perform?
We have the pleasure of performing all over Vermont, in venues large and small, indoors and outdoors. For most of our traditional, full-orchestra concerts, we perform at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington and the Paramount Theatre in Rutland. Locations for each of our concerts can be found at vso.org/events.
What should I wear?
Wear whatever you feel comfortable in. Many people enjoy dressing up for our concerts in business casual or cocktail attire, but many show up in jeans as well. And we understand that you need to dress for the Vermont weather, whatever it may bring—your Bean boots are welcome.
What if I don’t know anything about orchestral music?
Don’t worry, there are no prerequisites for enjoying a VSO concert, and there is no right or wrong way to interpret the music! Your experience listening to a piece with no prior knowledge about it and enjoying wherever it takes your mind is just as valuable as that of the retired viola teacher beside you, who knows the piece inside and out and is mentally playing along with the viola section.
What if I want to learn more about orchestral music?
If you want to start the concert knowing some background information about the works you will hear, you are welcome to arrive early and read your program notes. Written by our staff, musicians, and sometimes the composers of the pieces themselves, these notes provide context for the pieces and descriptions of some of the themes or techniques that you may hear.
Our classical concerts at the Flynn Center and Paramount Theatre are preceded by Musically Speaking, a free discussion that provides entertaining insight into the program one hour before the start of the concert. For each of these concerts, we also make a preview video, which you can view in the weeks leading up to the concert on our Facebook page, YouTube channel, or at vso.org/events. In addition, our classical concerts at the Flynn Center are preceded earlier in the week by Taste Test, our music education series for adults. For more information about Taste Test, visit vso.org/events.
We also love this article from the Washington Post, which offers some recommended listening for those looking to get into classical music, in general.
How long are the concerts?
Our concerts vary in length and format, but our classical concerts tend to follow a traditional symphony orchestra concert format, and last between an hour and a half and two hours.
These concerts typically start with an overture or other relatively short piece, followed by a concerto (usually featuring a soloist). This is followed by a 20-minute intermission, where you are free to leave your seat for refreshments, the restroom, or just to get up and stretch. The second half of the concert is usually a longer symphony with multiple movements.
When should I arrive?
This varies from venue to venue, so we recommend checking vso.org/events for door times and information about pre-concert events.
For our classical concerts, we recommend arriving at least 15 minutes before the start time of the concert, so that you have plenty of time to find your seat and get comfortable before the concert begins. You are encouraged to arrive even earlier if you wish to look through your program, socialize with friends, or enjoy any pre-concert events that may be occurring.
When should I clap?
You are welcome to applaud whenever you hear something you like, but if you’d like to stick with convention, we have a few pointers about when you can expect most of the rest of the audience to clap.
Unlike at jazz or rock concerts, audiences at VSO concerts typically wait until the very end of a piece to applaud. Sometimes a piece has multiple movements or sections, and a pause between movements can seem like the end of the piece—but it’s not! In between movements, the conductor and musicians usually remain engaged and hold their instruments in place or make a few adjustments, as they are about to begin playing again. You can tell that a piece is over once the conductor turns towards the audience. Then you can join the rest of the audience in clapping and cheering!
Can I take photos or video?
Professional photography and video are not permitted without advance written permission from the VSO. Otherwise, you are welcome to take photos or video provided that your device is silenced, you do not use a flash, and you limit the length of videos so as not to distract others. We encourage you to share your concert-going experience on social media, and to tag us so we can see what you enjoyed!
How old does my child have to be to attend a concert?
We encourage early exposure to music, so children of all ages are welcome, but some of our concerts are better suited for young audiences than others. Our Holiday Concerts and Summer Festival Tour concerts are appropriate for the whole family. More traditional concerts necessitate the ability to sit quietly for longer periods of time. Please bear in mind that a single piece at these concerts can last anywhere from 10 to 50 minutes, making it challenging to duck in and out with young children who may need a break from the concert hall.
What if I arrive late?
At our Jukebox and Summer Festival Tour concerts, it’s easy to respectfully come and go whenever you need to. At all other concerts, ushers seat latecomers at their discretion, so as not to disturb others in the audience. This might entail waiting for the end of a piece to take your seat, which can take several minutes. We recommend that you plan to arrive early for our concerts, to account for any unexpected delays that might come up on your way.
I use a wheelchair or have other accessibility needs. What do I need to know about attending VSO concerts?
Because we perform in such a wide variety of venues, we recommend calling the venue directly if you need specific accessibility information for a given concert. Venue phone numbers are listed for each concert at vso.org/events.
What if the print in the program insert is too small for me to read?
We provide large print program inserts, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please ask an usher if you would like a large print program insert.
I want to go with my co-workers/music class/church group/etc. Do you have group rates?
We offer group rates for parties of 15 or larger. Please contact (802) 864-5741 ext. 110 for more information about group rates.
Are there any pre-concert or post-concert events?
Some of our concerts are preceded by a free pre-concert talk about the program, called Musically Speaking. Occasionally, there are other performances before the VSO takes the stage, or receptions immediately following the concert. Some of these events are announced at the concert or listed in the program, but the best ways to stay informed about special events are to like us on Facebook, join our email list, and refer to our website before the concert.