Classical music in a contemporary world.

Maybe you've never been to an orchestral performance before. Maybe you think it's all stuffed tuxedos and formality. Not quite. While classical music has a rich heritage it has also endured for centuries because it has broad appeal. People young and old continue to enjoy the beauty of symphonic music. For some it's an immersion into the arts. For others it's an unusual night out. Whether your treating your family and friends, entertaining a client or making a great impression on a first date, the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra will give you a night to remember.

Three myths debunked.

Myth: You have to get “all dressed up” to attend a concert.
Reality: We think people enjoy concerts most when they are comfortable. Formal attire is not required at Orchestra concerts. You’ll see concert goers in suits, vests, sweaters, skirts, khakis, slacks… everything!

Myth: Only the “experts” can truly appreciate great music.
Reality: There are no experts. Everyone experiences music in a very personal way and no two people will have identical reactions. Though some people choose to study music as a hobby or profession, we believe your opinion is just as important and valid as theirs.

Myth: Serious concerts are only for the rich or well-heeled.
Reality: Great music attracts people from all walks of life. True, symphony audiences are a discerning group who appreciate the best in music, but the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra audience is diverse and welcoming to all.

A First-Timer's FAQ

What is classical music?
The term “classical music” can mean anything from a Bach Concerto to a Brahms Rhapsody, anything from an Adams tone poem to a Schubert Symphony. Generally, classical music is played by a symphonic ensemble composed of strings (violins, violas, cellos and basses), woodwinds (clarinets, oboes, flutes and bassoons), brass (trumpets, French horns, trombones and tubas) and percussion (drums, xylophones and bells), or some combination thereof.

Will I enjoy the concert?
Absolutely! Classical music is exciting, surprising, and quite often funny. When you join us in the concert hall, you’ll learn why Haydn called it the “Surprise” Symphony, you’ll hang on every note of the third movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, you’ll giggle at Ives’ Three Places in New England, and you’ll be in awe of Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra.

Will I recognize any music?
Odds are, you’ll recognize far more than you realize. Many of today’s popular songs, television shows and movies include or are taken from classical themes, like the Lone Ranger theme (Rossini’s William Tell Overture), the Bugs Bunny cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” (Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries), United Airlines commercials (Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue), and many more.

How long are concerts?
Normal concerts are usually about two hours including an intermission.

What should I wear to hear the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra?
Wear whatever makes you comfortable. Contrary to what many people think, formal attire — like tuxedos and evening gowns — is not required at Orchestra concerts. You’ll see concert goers in suits, vests, sweaters, skirts, khakis, slacks, everything!

When should I clap?
Generally, it is considered proper concert etiquette to clap only after a piece is complete. This means that, for example, if you’re listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, which has four movements, it is appropriate to clap after the last movement. You can look at your program book to find out how many movements a particular piece has. Usually, there is a 15- to 30-second pause in between movements. So, in the case of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, you know you’re hearing the Finale after three pauses. If all else fails, you can always wait for the rest of the audience to clap before applauding. Another good sign is when the conductor either turns around or steps off the podium (the elevated “box” she stands on).

What about other noises — coughing, cell phones, pagers?
It is always best to turn off cell phones and pagers before entering the concert hall. Noises such as a pager going off or a cell phone ringing are very distracting to the conductor, the musicians and your fellow audience members, and are considered to be quite rude. Another alternative is to set the device on vibrate, so that if an important call is received, one can retreat to the exterior of the hall to take care of the issue.

Coughing is an unavoidable problem. But, there are ways to avoid coughing during the music. If you feel a cold coming on, please bring lozenges with you. The next step is crucial: unwrap them ahead of time. Unwrapping a cough drop during the music makes more noise than you might think. If there are no lozenges in hand and you need to cough once or twice, please try to wait for the end of the movement. If that’s not possible you can try to bury your cough in a louder section of music, rather than coughing in the midst of the most delicate pianissimo. And, either way, a handkerchief or scarf will further help to muffle the disruption. If you need to cough more than a couple of times, there’s nothing wrong with getting up and excusing yourself from the Hall for the rest of the movement. Following these guidelines helps you be sensitive to your neighbors, and allows everyone to have a more pleasant concert experience.

Suppose I lose my tickets?
No problem – If you contact the Symphony office (203.956.6771) at least two days before the performance, we can have a new set waiting at the concert.