First Year Odyssey


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Concert Etiquette

Know What Concert You're Attending

The Performing Arts Center offers a lot of different kinds of concerts and recitals during the semester. They include performances by symphony orchestras (large groups which include string, brass, woodwind and percussion instruments), bands (large groups which include brass, woodwind and percussion instruments), choruses (large groups which include all women, all men, or men and women), chamber orchestras (smaller than symphonies and often including only strings), as well as soloists, duets, trios, quartets, quintets, etc., of all kinds. Some of the events (especially those requiring the purchase of tickets) are performances by professional musicians, but a large majority of the concerts and recitals are performances by students and faculty of the University of Georgia School of Music, and many of them are not much older than you.

Know Where the Concert/Recital Will Be

The Performing and Visual Arts Complex is located on the East Campus, near the Ramsey Student Activities Center. Any UGA bus that goes to the Ramsey Center stops next to the Complex.

There are three performance halls in the Complex. Two are in the Performing Arts Center and one is in the School of Music building. These two buildings are next door to each other and to the Georgia Museum of Art.

The largest of the three halls is Hodgson Concert Hall, named for the founder of the University of Georgia School of Music, Hugh Hodgson. Hodgson Hall seats an audience of 1,100, surrounding the stage in what's called a "festival-style" auditorium. Most large concerts are held in Hodgson Hall. It is on the first floor of the Performing Arts Center.

Ramsey Concert Hall, not to be confused with the Ramsey Center, seats 360 people and offers a more intimate setting for soloists and chamber recitals. Named in honor of UGA alumnus and philanthropist Bernard Ramsey, this hall hosts the Ramsey Concert Hall Series of new artists. Doctoral students and faculty members in music must present recitals each year, and Ramsey Hall provides them with a performing home. Ramsey Hall offers a more traditional seating arrangement than Hodgson Hall. Ramsey Hall is on the second floor of the Performing Arts Center.

The Edge Recital Hall is a 180-seat theater with a grand piano, a projection screen, and a sound booth to accommodate recitals, lectures, clinics, and recordings. Named in honor of former UGA valedictorian and Rhodes Scholar Robert G. Edge, the hall is located on the third floor of the School of Music building. The majority of Masters and Undergraduate music students' recitals are held in this hall.

Know If You Need a Ticket

Many of the events are free; however, some do require tickets. If so, the FYO website will list the price of the tickets and how to obtain them. You should make sure to get your ticket ahead of time, as the box office frequently is not open at concert time. A number of the Performing Arts Center program series offer student ticket prices. Be sure to check with the box office for information about these specials.

Come Early and Be Prepared

Always plan to arrive at least fifteen minutes before the time of the concert. The time shown on the FYO website will be the time that the music will actually begin. Arriving a few minutes early will allow you to find a good seat and look over the program before the concert begins. That way, you'll know what to expect during the performance. Plan ahead, especially if you're going to ride the bus to the Performing and Visual Arts Complex.

Stay for the Whole Performance

Most concerts (large group performances which include symphonic orchestras and bands, and choral groups) will last between one and one and a half hours and will include an intermission about halfway through. Most recitals (performances by a small ensemble such as a chamber orchestra, quartet, etc., or solo artist) will be a little shorter and usually don't include an intermission. You are expected to remain for the whole performance, including encores. Do not attend a concert or recital if you know that you have somewhere else that you must be immediately afterward.

Know When to Clap

When you first arrive at the performance, look over the program and read the program notes about the artist(s) and the pieces of music that will be performed. Not only will that help you know more about what you'll be hearing, it will also help you understand when you should applaud and when you'll get to take a little break during an intermission. When the concertmaster (the lead violin player) and conductor/director first come onstage at the beginning of the program, they are usually welcomed with polite applause.

Usually, the performances will include between two and five pieces of music. As you look at the program, you will see some pieces that are listed like this:

Capriccio Lucian Foster (b. 1952)

This indicates that it is a short composition, written by Lucian Foster, a composer who was born in 1952 and is still alive. You will also see some that are listed like this:

Suite Espagnole pour violon celle et piano (1930) Vieille Castille Murcienne Asturienne Andalouse Joaquin Nin (1879 - 1949)

This indicates that it is a longer piece called a "suite for cello and piano" with four parts (called movements), written in 1930 by Joaquin Nin, a composer who lived from 1879 until 1949. The piece is not considered finished until the last movement has been played. If you want to appear knowledgeable to your fellow concert audience members, NEVER applaud until after the last movement. Although the performers are always glad for you to express your appreciation for their efforts, clapping between movements breaks their train of thought and interrupts the overall mood of the composition.

If there is a conductor or director of the group, watch for him to lower his baton or hands and seem to relax. He may even turn around to face the audience. If you're still in doubt, look for people in the audience who look like experienced concert-goers and wait until they begin to applaud. Sometimes, at the end of the program, audience members will shout "Bravo" or stand while they're applauding (a "standing ovation.") This just indicates that they think that the performer(s) did an outstanding job. Just because other people stand, doesn't mean you have to. Do what you feel. A standing ovation should be considered like a good tip at the end of a wonderful dinner served by an exceptional waiter.

Once the concert is over, the performers will leave the stage. However, if the audience continues to clap, they may return to the stage for additional recognition and may even play an extra bonus piece, called an "encore." These are usually short and entertaining and it is considered rude to leave during them. The concert is not completely over until the applause ends and the lights come back on.

Be Silent During the Performance

If you arrive early, it's okay to talk to those seated around you until the lights dim, indicating that the concert is about to begin. After that, it is important not to talk, sing along, hum or make any other noise that will disturb others. The musicians have practiced long and hard and probably don't need your help. A good rule is not to do anything that will make anyone else notice you, including popping your gum, sighing and snoring! If you absolutely have to talk to someone, an occasional whisper is okay, but the general rule is to keep your attention focused on the performance. The three performance halls at UGA have amazing acoustics. Performers from around the world are so impressed with the sound in our halls that some even come here to record their CDs. The audience can hear every note. Just remember that this means that the performers can hear every sound you make as well.

You should sit silently in your seat, except in cases of emergency. For example, if you feel that you are about to have a coughing fit, it's better to slip quietly out of the concert hall and return between pieces.

Most concert halls require that you turn off your pager and cell phone before the concert begins, and you are not allowed to take photographs (especially flash!). You should also check to make sure that your watch alarm is off. Under NO circumstances should you EVER talk on your cell phone, text message your friends, or play games on your phone/Blackberry during a concert. It is disturbing to those around you and, more importantly, can be distracting to the performers.

Don't Eat, Drink, or Smoke

Except for outdoor and "Pops" concerts, food and drink are usually not allowed, except during intermissions at some performances. If you are suffering from a cough, however, it's better to bring along some cough drops or lozenges than to disturb the audience. Just make sure you don't make a big deal of digging them out of the bottom of your purse and unwrapping them noisily.

Know What to Wear

Although most concerts at the Performing Arts Center are not noted for their formality, try to be neatly dressed and avoid such things as torn clothes, "Daisy Dukes," t-shirts with obscenities, etc. Remember that there will be other audience members who are not part of the University community and you will be representing the University of Georgia to them. If you have questions about what is appropriate apparel for concerts, call the Performing Arts Center box office for help.