Newcomer’s Guide to the Symphony

New to the Symphony experience? Have no fear, you’ll have a great time!

Welcome to the Stockton Symphony experience! You are very important to us and we want your concert experience to be positive, fun and memorable!

We are committed to ensuring your Stockton Symphony experience is extraordinary and will bring you back again and again.

If you have additional questions that are not answered below, please reach out to us by phone (209) 951-0196, Facebook, or Email

I’ve never been to the Symphony – what should I expect?

Expect to be blown away! Let go of any preconceptions about classical music or the Symphony and open yourself up to the music.

It is awe-inspiring to watch 70+ musicians under the baton of one conductor, where you can observe 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.

What do I wear?

There isn’t a concert dress code. Most importantly, we want you to be comfortable. Most people will be wearing business clothes or slightly dressy casual clothes, but you will see everything from khakis to cocktail dresses. What you will not see are evening gowns and tuxedos.

Whether dressed-up or dressed-down, please go easy on perfume or cologne. Please be mindful of others who have allergies and sensitivity to fragrances.

How long will the concert be?

Most orchestra concerts range from 1 ½ to 2 hours long, with an intermission at the halfway point. The concerts in the 2021 fall season will have no intermission and last approximately an hour.

When should I clap?

This is the issue that causes the most anxiety – no one wants to be embarrassed from clapping at the “wrong” time.

  • At the beginning of the concert, the concertmaster will come onstage. The audience claps to welcome and show appreciation to the musicians.
  • When the conductor (and possibly guest artist/soloist) come on stage – the audience claps.
  • The music will begin – settle in and enjoy. It is customary not to clap until the end of the piece, but it can get a little tricky because many works seem to end several times due to multiple “movements” (parts of the work).
  • When you do NOT clap is during the music.

Generally speaking, musicians and the audience prefer not to hear applause during the pauses between movements for concentration.

Don’t stress about when to applaud – follow the audience cues. If a particular piece touches you, and you enthusiastically applaud during the “pause,” disregard anyone that may “shush” you – sometimes the music is so enthralling you just cannot restrain yourself!

Can I take pictures?

Cameras, video recorders, and tape recorders are strictly prohibited inside the auditorium – nobody wants their concert experience interrupted by “Ken or Katie-Kodak” flashing pics during a beautiful piece of music. That being said, we realize attending the symphony is a picture-worthy moment so feel free to snap away in the lobby before and after the concert.

Our Guest Artists/Soloists are usually on-hand in the lobby at intermission to sign autographs and have pictures taken with patrons.

Cell phones and the symphony?

Please silence cell phones completely – including vibrate mode. We understand the importance of cell phones – but phones ringing, vibrating, or lighting up like a strobe light is distracting to fellow audience members and musicians.

Are there drinks and/or food at the concert?

For concerts held at Atherton Auditorium: Beverages (coffee/water) and snacks are available for purchase from the Snack Cart located directly outside the auditorium lobby. Wine and beer are available for purchase from the bar located in the Lobby of the auditorium. Several nearby restaurants surround San Joaquin Delta College for dining before or after the concert.

Other venues: Food and drink availability will vary. You may find more information about specific venue offerings on individual concert detail pages.

What if I arrive late?

Ticket holders who arrive after the concert begins will be seated in the auditorium only during appropriate pauses in the music. A video monitor in the Atherton Auditorium lobby allows late patrons to hear and see the action on stage while waiting for late seating opportunities. At other venues, an usher will assist you.

Can I bring my children?

It depends on the concert, age, and attention span of your children. Many standard-length classical concerts are inappropriate for small children, but even children as young as three are intrigued by the many different instruments of the orchestra and the magic of attending a live orchestra event. You might consider starting with half a concert.

In all cases, it is a good idea to check with the Symphony about the appropriateness of the concert you plan to attend with your children. Also be sure to check out Stockton Symphony’s Steppin’ Out Educational Concerts.

Thank you to our 2023/24 Season Partners!

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Amy Scriven, DDS