Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page.

When attending an orchestra concert for the first time, a few questions may arise - from what is going to be played to what to wear and when to clap, we answer the most common questions below.

Anything else you want to know? Give us an email at office@cso.co.nz 


  • What is a symphony orchestra? +

    A large instrumental ensemble made up of four different sections consisting of strings, woodwind, brass and percussion. For most of our concerts there are usually around 60 to 70 musicians performing on stage.

  • Does a symphony orchestra only play classical music? +

    The CSO plays a wide range of music styles and genres – from classical to contemporary and jazz to popular, as well as performing with ballets, operas and choirs.

  • What time should I arrive? +

    Our doors open half an hour before the concert starts – make sure you leave enough time to find a car park. If you arrive late, you will be ushered in after the end of the first piece. 

  • Can children go to CSO concerts? +

    Absolutely – children are welcome to attend CSO concerts and we have tickets available at a discounted price for those 18 years and younger. 

  • Do I need to dress formally to go to an orchestra concert? +

    No, just wear whatever you feel comfortable in. If you’d like to dress up however, you are most welcome to.

  • Can I bring my cellphone? +

    If you need to bring your cellphone or any other electronic device, please make sure they are turned off or silenced before the concert starts. 

  • Is it okay to talk through a concert? +

    Sometimes a piece of music leaves you wanting to discuss it with those around you – we just ask that you leave this until between the pieces as conversations can be really distracting to both your neighbours as well as the musicians on stage. 

  • Can I take photographs / videos? +

    No, we do not permit photos and videos to be taken of the concerts. 

  • Are there refreshments available? +

    Most of our concerts have an interval of 20 minutes where, depending on the facilities at the venue, drinks can be purchased from the bar.

  • Who is the person who stands up at the start of the concert and makes everyone play different notes? +

    This is the Concertmaster – he or she is the leader of the orchestra and they get up at the start to ‘tune’ the orchestra. The players all ‘tune’ so that their instrument’s ‘A’ matches the ‘A’ that is played by the oboe. It is really important that musicians tune at the start of the performance, as changes in temperature and humidity can easily make their instruments of out of tune. 

  • Why do the players stand up when the Conductor comes on? +

    This is something that orchestras have done for many years and it is a traditional way of showing respect to the Conductor.

  • How do I know what piece they are playing? +

    The pieces that are being played in each performance are listed in order in the concert programme that you can purchase for $5 each before the start of the concert or in the interval. The pieces are also listed on our website and in our season brochure. 

  • When do I clap? +

    Clap at the very end of each piece. Some pieces have more than one movement which means that there will be a gap of silence between every movement. You can check the programme for how many movements are in each piece so that you know when the end is. If in doubt about when to clap – wait until everyone else starts! Applause is your way of showing the musicians on stage that you liked their performance, so cheer and stamp your feet if you want – the players always appreciate hearing this!

  • What happens after the concert has finished? +

    Our bar will usually open and audience members are welcome to join the CSO musicians and staff for a drink and a chat.