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First Timer's Guide

General Questions

What should I expect from an orchestra concert?
Do I need to know anything about classical music to enjoy the concert?
What is the average duration of a WASO concert?
What if I'm late?
Is there disabled access?
What should I wear to a WASO Concert?
When should I applaud?
What about other noises? - coughing, mobile phones, pagers?
Can I take pictures?

About the orchestra

What is a symphony orchestra?
Why do the musicians wear formal black clothes?
How do I find out more about the music and the performers?

General Questions

What should I expect from an orchestra concert?

Let go of any preconceptions you may have about classical music or the concert experience. This is an opportunity to open your mind and to allow yourself to be taken on a journey by the conductor and musicians through the music. Expect to enjoy yourself.

Do I need to know anything about classical music to enjoy the concert?

No, don't worry if you do not have a classical music background, the music will speak for itself. However if you would like to know more each piece is described in the program notes of concert programs which are given out free prior to the concert and are on the website in the week leading up to the concert. Alternatively you can attend the free pre-concert talk.

Many frequent concertgoers find they enjoy the music if they have heard it before the concert - if this appeals, WASO's podcasts provide a great way to learn more about the music and are found on our website, otherwise just come along and enjoy with an open mind.

What is the average duration of a WASO concert?

The average WASO concert lasts a maximum duration of two hours, with a 25 minute interval, with the exception of the Morning Symphonies and children's concerts that run for 1 hour with no interval. The length of each piece being played can be found in the concert program.

What if I'm late?

The concert hall doors will be closed promptly when the concert commences. Late comers will not be admitted into the hall until a suitable break in the music. Make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before the concert is due to start.

Is there disabled access?

Wheelchair bookings must be made through the WASO Box Office, not online. When booking your ticket please state your requirements to the booking staff to ensure you obtain seating in an appropriate area.

For patrons with wheelchairs there is special allocated seating in the auditorium, a wheelchair accessible toilet on the ground floor and ACROD parking available in the undercover car park (top level), with lift access that provides entry directly into the foyer of the Concert Hall. Upon arrival please see staff for assistance.

For patrons with hearing impairments, the Sennheiser MobileConnect Personal Hearing Assistance system is available for every seat in the Perth Concert Hall auditorium. Visit perthconcerthall.com.au/your-visit/accessibility/ for further information.

For more information about accessibility at the Perth Concert Hall, click here.

What should I wear to a WASO concert?

WASO concerts have no dress code, wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. Most patrons will wear slightly dressy clothes or business attire, but you will also see patrons in jeans, skirts, t-shirts or dresses.

Formal attire is not required however if you feel like dressing up and making a night of it you should, it all adds to the experience.

When should I applaud?

Musicians love applause. As a guide, audience members normally applaud:

  • When the Concertmaster (violin) walks onto the stage.
  • When the Conductor walks onto the stage.
  • After the completion of each piece and at the end of the performance. 

What about other noises? - coughing, mobile phones, pagers?

Pagers, mobile phones and alarm watches must be switched off during a performance. Concerts are recorded for airing on ABC radio and these noise disturbances are picked up.

While coughing is an unavoidable problem there are ways to minimise the disturbance of the musicians, conductor and your fellow audience members. Cough lozenges are available from the WASO Customer Service Desk before each performance and at the interval. If you are in the middle of the concert and start to cough try to muffle or bury the cough in a handkerchief or in a louder section of the music. If you need to cough many times there is nothing wrong with excusing yourself from the hall for the rest of the movement.

Please note that incorrectly adjusted hearing aids may disturb other patrons.

Can I take pictures?

No, taking photographs or recordings of any kind is not permitted and breaches performers' copyright.

About the Orchestra

What is a symphony orchestra?

A symphony orchestra is a collection of musicians who play instruments in four groups:

  1. Strings - violins, violas, cellos and double basses, harp
  2. Woodwinds - flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons
  3. Brass - trumpets, horns, trombones, tubas
  4. Percussion/Timpani - including the drums, bells, xylophone, tambourine

Why do the musicians wear formal black clothes?

This is a tradition that started centuries ago. The musicians dress in this 'uniform' so that they do not distract the audience from the music. Soloists are the exception, they often dress differently because the focus of the audience is on them.

How do I find out more about the music and the performers?

WASO and Wesfarmers Arts bring you free pre-concert talks, which are held on the Terrace level of the Perth Concert Hall 45 minutes before every Classics, Masters and Morning Symphony concert. The talks are presented by leading musical authorities and these informative and entertaining talks will greatly enhance your concert experience.

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Next Performance: 31 March

Kate Miller-Heidke with WASO