We want your first experience with the Grand Rapids Symphony to be worry-free. So, we've put together some tips and frequently asked questions for the first-time concertgoer.
What should I expect at a Grand Rapids Symphony concert?
Expectations for a symphonic experience vary. For some it's a romantic night out. Others escape on a musical journey to a secret place. The truth is, experiencing classical music is a very personal thing and not one experience is wrong.
One thing is certain: expect to enjoy yourself! Let go of any preconceptions you may have about classical music or the concert experience. If you feel a little nervous, that's OK. Some things about the concert may seem strange because they're new to you, but if you just focus on the music, you'll have a great time. And don't forget to close your eyes from time to time to really feel the music.
Open yourself to the music. Let it trigger your emotions—maybe even your memories. Feel the rhythms; follow the tunes. Watch the musicians and the conductor, and see how they interact with each other. Notice how the music ebbs and flows—surging and powerful at times, delicate and ephemeral at others, and everything in between.
How long will the concert be?
It varies, but most classical concerts are about 90 minutes to 2 hours long, with a 15-minute intermission at the halfway point. Very often there are several pieces on the concert; but sometimes there is one single work played straight through. It's a good idea to take a look at the program before the concert to get an idea of what to expect.
Should I arrive early?
Absolutely! Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before concert time, so you can check your coat, find your seat, turn off your cell phone, take a look at your surroundings, absorb the atmosphere, and have time to glance through the program book, too. You won't be alone. Most concertgoers make a point of coming early to read the program notes, or just watch the orchestra warm up.
What happens if I arrive late to the concert?
If you're late, you may end up listening from the lobby. If that happens, the usher will allow you inside during a suitable pause in the program, so your arrival won't disturb other concertgoers.
What should I wear to the Grand Rapids Symphony?
We’re happy to say that we have no dress code, although most people opt for business attire or business casual. This time is for you, and we want you to be comfortable. Whether you wear bejeweled rings or nose rings, everyone is welcome at our concerts. Some people enjoy dressing up and making a special night of it, and you can, too. Still, evening gowns and tuxedos are pretty rare unless you've bought tickets for a fancy gala—and if you have, you'll know.
What are Will Call tickets?
When you place an order for tickets, we will mail you your tickets. However, if you place an order for tickets within ten days of a concert, we will request that you pick-up your tickets at the Will Call window, located at the Box Office.
May I take pictures?
Cameras, video recorders, and tape recorders are not permitted inside the concert hall. If you happen to have one with you, be sure to stop at the coat-check and check it in before entering. If you have a camera and want a souvenir of a special evening at the symphony, ask someone to take your picture outside the concert hall before you go in.
May I bring my kids?
It depends on the concert and on the age of your children. Many standard-length classical concerts are inappropriate for small children because they require an attention span that is difficult for youngsters to maintain. Most concerts also are held at night, and stretch beyond "bedtime."If your children are young, check out our DTE Energy Foundation Family concerts or Lollipop Concerts; these are a great way for families to enjoy classical music together.
In all cases, it's a good idea to check with the Symphony office directly about the appropriateness of the concert you plan to attend with your kids. Also ask about discounts for students and children.
May I take a tour of the concert hall?
This website gives a "virtual" tour of DeVos Performance Hall, offering a view of the orchestra on stage from each seating section.
Are there ways to learn more about the music?
In addition to providing program notes in the program book at each concert, we have lots of ways for you to learn: (1) Free pre-concert discussions titled Upbeat, held at DeVos Performance Hall one hour prior to Richard and Helen DeVos Classical concerts. (2) Blue Lake Public Radio (88.9 and 90.3 FM) will preview selected series in August/early September. (3) Program Notes and listening clips are on the concert pages on this website when available.
Are there discounts for groups?
Your group of 15 or more may be able to receive 10-15% off individual ticket prices. More than 70% of concerts presented by the Grand Rapids Symphony are available for group savings and non-profit fundraising sales. Call 616.454.9451 x 4, or visit the Group Sales information page on this site for more details.
Are there discounts for students?
Students may take advantage of the Student Passport discount program. Membership in the program allows a student to purchase a $5 ticket for most Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series, Fox Motors Pops Series, Crowe Horwath Great Eras Series, Porter Hills Coffee Classics Series, DTE Energy Foundation Family Series, and PNC Lollipops Series concerts.
Certain performances and seating sections may be restricted. Call 616.454.9451 x 4, or visit the Student Passport information page for more details. Certain subscription series also have discounted prices for students. Certain seating sections may be restricted. Check individual concert detail pages for availability.
What if I need to cough during a performance?
Please try to refrain from coughing during quiet musical passages. If you have a severe cough, feel free to step out of the hall until an appropriate break in the music when you can be re-seated.
What provisions are made for patrons with disabilities?
A limited number of wheelchair seats are available. Call 616.454.9451 x 4. All Grand Rapids Symphony venues are handicapped-accessible.