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Your First Concert? FAQs

What is a symphony and what is a concerto?

Symphonies and concertos are popular musical forms which the IPO performs many times over the course of a season.

A symphony is a major work played by the entire orchestra. It consists of a number of movements, usually three or four, and is sometimes inspired by a literary work or sacred text. The term comes from the Greek syn (together) and phonia (sounds).

A concerto is a work that is performed by the orchestra and a soloist (or a number of soloists). Most concertos have three movements and often include a dialogue between the soloist and orchestra. The word is Italian for “joint action.”   


Will I be able to recognize the music?

It is likely that you will recognize parts of many symphonies and concertos.

Some works are well known to the public because they have been used in movie soundtracks, television shows and commercials. Others will be familiar to classical music fans or enthusiasts of a particular composer.

The works are listed in the program in the order in which they are performed. There is a short break between movements. At the conclusion of a work, the conductor walks off the stage and the composition of the orchestra on stage often undergoes small changes.  These changes may include bringing a piano onto the stage or removing it via a special elevator beneath the Heichal Hatarbut stage.


How can one find out more information about the music that is performed?

Most of the works performed by the IPO are works that have been performed for decades by both the IPO and other orchestras around the world. Previous performances of a work, as well as guest soloists, can be seen on the IPO’s Youtube site and other websites.

Background information for each concert can be found in our concert programs  Programs are written by our professional staff and include articles and commentaries by musicologists, scholars and critics. The programs provide details about the composition of a work, the life of the composer, the history of the work and of its performances over the years.

Programs can be purchased on the night of a concert.


What should one wear?

A classical music concert is certainly something special but, despite its elitist image, attendance to a Philharmonic concert does not require a dress code. You can dress as you please. Jackets and ties are not obligatory. Some spectators opt to dress formally for the occasion but others often arrive straight from work in casual wear.


What happens if one arrives late?

If you arrive after a concert has already started, the ushers will direct you to the balcony sections from where you will be able to see and hear the orchestra. At the end of a work, you will be able to move to your reserved seating.


Is there a set code of conduct?

Since a concert is primarily a listening experience, the rule of ‘quiet’ is supreme.

In classical music ‘quiet’ has great importance between movements or breaks, and a quiet  transitional moment can create great emotional effect. Concertgoers do their best not to disturb such moments. A concert hall is also built with optimal acoustics in mind, so that the softest sound can be heard in every part of the hall and spectators can enjoy a perfect listening experience with all its nuances. Conversely, every cough, movement, rustling of jewelry, whisper, cellphone ring, etc. can be heard.


Is it permitted to use a cell phone during a concert?

It depends on the goal: if it is in order to check the time, yes. And if it is in order to see whether your babysitter has left an urgent message, then it is legitimate to take a peek at your phone. But you should remember that, even when your phone is on silent/vibrate mode, the lit-up screen and your movements may disturb the spectators seated near you. Cell phones should therefore not be used during a concert, unless in a medical emergency.


When should one applaud?

Applause is an important element in the dialogue between an audience and the orchestra/soloists: it expresses appreciation, admiration and enthusiasm. The general rule is to express resounding applause at the end of a concert and softer applause at the end of a work. This applies, of course, to when you enjoy a performance and the music has touched your heart.

When a soloist plays particularly well, you can request an encore—a short work of the artist’s choice that is not part of the program—by applauding at a steady pace.

If you are afraid of applauding in the wrong place, wait a moment or two and see how the rest of the audience responds.


Is one allowed to photograph or record the orchestra during a concert?

A concert is an exciting event which you may well wish to document. But as with every artistic show, the musicians enjoy performer’s rights. Furthermore, taking pictures may well disturb the performance.

All photographs and recordings in the course of a concert are therefore strictly forbidden.

You can, of course, take photographs before or after a concert and send them to friends or post them on social networks.