Orchestra FAQ

At the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, we want our patrons to have a wonderful experience! Whether it’s your first concert or you’re a seasoned veteran, you may have some questions or find some of the lingo or customs to be unfamiliar. On this page, we do our best to answer your questions and provide an explanation of terms that may not be familiar to you.

Entrances and exits

We recommend arriving 15 minutes prior to the start of the concert. Refreshments are available for purchase in the lobby if you find yourself with a few minutes to spare. Before a performance begins, there are usually about 5 minutes or so of pre-game announcements and activities, allowing a buffer for audience members searching for that perfect parking spot. Once the orchestra begins to play, the fashionably late will be asked to wait until applause to enter, so as not to disturb the other patrons. If you have to leave the hall during the performance, please try to wait for an applause moment to make your discreet exit.

What is the Dress Code?

Come as you are. (Well, maybe not PJs and flip-flops…) Genuinely, our priority is that you have a great time and want to come back, so dress comfortably. Most concert-goers will dress in business-casual attire, but you will see everything from jeans to furs. Ultimately, it’s up to you!

How long is the performance?

Performances are typically about 2 hours long and include a 20-minute intermission, usually around the 45-minute mark. The run time of each piece will be listed in the program.

Can I bring my children?

CSO believes parents know best whether their children are able to sit through a symphony concert. Many CSO concerts, like the Family Matinee and Holiday concerts, are specifically geared towards having families and children in attendance. CSO offers student rate tickets if you’d like to bring along the whole family to any performance; older students may be asked to show a student ID at the door. If at any time your youngster becomes distracting to the other patrons or the musicians on stage, please take the first opportunity to make a discreet exit until your symphony fan in training is able to return.

Phones: yay or nay?

Yay—but respectfully. When you arrive at a performance, please be sure to set your phone to silent, so as not to inadvertently join the music-making. During the performance, we invite you to take all the photos you want; just be sure the flash is off, and the screen is dimmed out of respect for your fellow concert-goers. (And, of course, be sure to tag us if you post any of your photos on social media!) As for video, due to music copyright laws, we ask that you do not video performances. An usher may politely remind you of the guidelines above if you get caught up in the excitement of the show and happen to forget.

When do I clap?

When the spirit moves you—although, preferably, the spirit will wait until the music has stopped. It is customary to clap at the very end of a piece, but if you feel the urge at the end of a particularly exciting movement, chances are you aren’t alone… so go for it! The Maestro and musicians love to know you are enjoying their performance. They also appreciate standing ovations, if you are so moved at the end of a particularly spectacular piece.

What accommodations are there for disabled patrons?

Handicapped parking is available in the parking garage, and curb-to-seat assistance is available upon request. If you need to change your seat to accommodate a wheelchair, walker, or oxygen tank, please check in with the box office. Hearing impaired devices are also available upon request.

What is the difference between a concerto and a symphony?

Simply put, a concerto features a soloist in front of the orchestra, and a symphony does not. A symphony is a feature for the entire ensemble, and while you will hear instrumental solos, they will be played from within the orchestra without any special fanfare. These solos are usually fairly short and are passed from instrument to instrument within the orchestra. If a member of the orchestra has a particularly important/famous solo, or does a really fantastic job of playing it, you might see the Maestro acknowledge them with a solo bow during the applause at the end of the piece. A concerto features a soloist—a hotshot on their particular instrument—playing in front of the orchestra. Often, the soloist’s primary job is to play concertos with orchestras, and they spend their lives traveling and performing. The soloist and the orchestra seem to have a conversation back and forth, both trying to get in the last word.

What is a Concertmaster, anyway?

The Concertmaster is a fancy title for the 1st chair, 1st violinist. CSO usually has 22 violins on stage; 12 of them are playing the first violin part, and 10 play the second violin part—think first and second sopranos in a choir. The Concertmaster has the important job of helping to keep the orchestra together; and in fact, in days of yore, often doubled as the conductor. On a good day, all the violins move their bows up and down in coordination. The Concertmaster is the one who decides which direction to move the bow on any given note, and the rest of the section follows suit—kind of like a complex game of follow the leader. The Concertmaster also “tunes” the orchestra by signaling to the principal oboe to give the tuning “A.”

What is an Orchestra Manager, a Steward and a Cover Conductor?

These individuals help ensure that orchestra rehearsals and performances run smoothly. The Orchestra Manager is responsible for hiring the appropriate number of musicians for each concert and ensuring all of the musicians are on stage when they are supposed to be and not eating cookies in the green room. She keeps track of musician attendance and communicates with the Civic Center staff about stage set up needs. The Steward’s thankless job is to keep the Maestro on time. He ensures that the orchestra gets a break during their rehearsals and that they are not kept over time. Wood instruments are very susceptible to extreme temperatures, so he also closely monitors the on-stage temperature to ensure the instruments are safe at all times. The Cover Conductor is the on-call substitute in case the Maestro gets the plague or hit by a bus. He has learned all the scores and is ready to step up to the podium on a moment’s notice.

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