Does the symphony’s performance venue accommodate people with special needs?
In accordance with the ADA, the Stevens Center, R.J. Reynolds and K.R. Williams auditoriums, and Centenary United Methodist Church are fully accessible to our patrons with special needs. Please be sure to mention the need for ADA seating when purchasing concert tickets.
Are refreshments sold at performances?
Refreshments are sold at Kicked-Back Classics and Classics Series concerts in the Stevens Center 2nd floor lobby before concerts and during intermission. A variety of non-alcoholic beverages and wines are offered ranging from $1-$5 a glass.
Are there any good restaurants nearby?
For pre- or post concert dining, drinks and desserts, we have a number of recommended restaurant partners who offer discounts to patrons who present an Entertainment card. For a complete list of downtown restaurants check out the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership’s information.
Where is the performance venue?
We perform regularly at several venues throughout Winston-Salem. A map with a link to Google directions is provided on each concert’s individual page. Alternately, you may refer to our Locations and Parking page.
How should I purchase tickets?
You can purchase subscriptions by phone at (336) 464.0145 or at the WS Symphony Box Office. Individual concert tickets are also available online, by phone, at the WS Symphony Box Office, and at the Stevens Center Box Office beginning in August.
Do you offer any discounts on tickets?
Yes. The Winston-Salem Symphony has various discounts on subscription packages and single concert tickets. Some discounts apply to families, students, and groups. Other discounts benefit employees of our corporate sponsors.
Is it better to purchase seats on the main or upper level?
Determining the best seat for you depends on your needs and personal preferences. Some people prefer the upper levels where there are sweeping views of the entire orchestra. Other patrons prefer to sit on the main floor to feel “closer” to the stage. If someone in your party has difficulty climbing stairs, you will want to sit in the main floor area. You may also want to sit on the main floor close to the stage, if your primary interest is seeing a particular guest artist up close.
What if I lose my tickets?
No problem. Just call the Symphony Box Office at (336) 464.0145 between 10AM-4PM weekdays.
At the Performance
How should I dress for a performance?
Come as you are! We’re not fussy and it’s our experience that patrons feel equally at home in everything from blue jeans to tuxedos. Some people enjoy dressing up and making a special night of it, and you can, too. Even the musicians dress more casually for our Saturday Kicked-Back Classics concerts and you should feel free to do the same! Sunday patrons typically attend in church clothes and Tuesdays you’ll see the post-work crowd. Evening gowns and tuxedos are pretty rare unless you’ve bought tickets for a fancy gala – and if you have, you’ll know! Above all be you, be comfortable, and enjoy the show!
How long will the concert be?
It varies, but most orchestra concerts are about 90 minutes to two hours long, with an intermission at the halfway point. Our Kicked-Back Classics series concerts feature a 60-minute, no intermission format. Very often there will be 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.
What happens if I’m late for a performance?
We ask that you plan to be in your seats 10 minutes prior to the performance. If you arrive after the performance begins, you’ll be seated by an usher at the first suitable pause.
Can I bring my kids?
It depends on the concert and on the age of your kids. 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 very young, introducing your kids to the symphony is fun and exciting at our Discovery Concerts for kids.
How can I learn more about the music pieces being performed?
Come to our Music Lovers Luncheons or stick around after the concerts for our Post Concert Q&A. For more information about Music Lovers Luncheons, please call the Symphony office. Our program notes are posted online shortly before each Classics and Kicked-Back Classics performance, and we regularly post tidbits of program-related info on social media.
Should I arrive early?
Absolutely! Plan to arrive 20 minutes before concert time, so you can 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.
Rushing to your seat at the last minute doesn’t really give you enough time to get settled, so you may not fully enjoy the first piece on the program. And there’s another good reason to come early: Most concerts start absolutely on time, so this is not the occasion to which you would want to arrive “fashionably” late. 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.
When should I clap?
At the beginning of the concert, the concertmaster will come onstage. The audience claps as a welcome, and as a sign of appreciation to all the musicians.
After the orchestra tunes, the conductor (and possibly a soloist) will come onstage. Everyone claps to welcome them, too. This is also a good moment to make sure your program is open, so you can see the names of the pieces that will be played and their order.
Then everything settles down and the music begins. Just listen and enjoy! The audience doesn’t usually applaud again until the end of the piece.
In most classical concerts — unlike jazz or pop — the audience never applauds during the music. They wait until the end of each piece, then let loose with their applause. But this can be a little tricky, because many pieces seem to end several times-in other words, they have several parts, or “movements.” These are listed in your program. When in doubt, wait until those around you begin to clap.
What if I need to cough during the music?
Everyone gets the urge to cough now and then. Worrying about disturbing your fellow listeners is a laudable impulse, but don’t let it ruin your enjoyment of the concert. Be sure to visit the water fountain in the lobby before the concert, and at intermission.
If you have a cold, take some cough medicine in advance and bring wax paper-wrapped or unwrapped-lozenges with you. During “Cold & Flu Season” the Symphony will even provide free cough drops in the lobby. Have a few out and ready when the music begins.
Allow yourself to become involved in listening to the music and in watching the performers. The more you are absorbed in what’s going on, the less likely you are to cough.
If you absolutely can’t restrain yourself, try to wait for the end of a movement. Or “bury” your cough in a loud passage of music. If this is impossible, and you feel a coughing fit coming on, it’s perfectly acceptable to quietly exit the concert hall. Don’t be embarrassed — your fellow listeners will probably appreciate your concern for their listening experience.
What should I do with my cell phone during the concert?
Turn it off! The same goes for pagers and alarm watches. It’s a good idea to double-check in the few minutes before the concert begins, and again as intermission draws to a close. Better still, leave them at home if you can. Texting and tweating can be very distracting for those around you, so please refrain! For doctors and emergency workers who are “on call” we request you set your pagers to the “silent alert” or vibrate setting.
Can I take pictures?
Cameras, video recorders, and tape recorders aren’t permitted in concerts. Please leave these at home.
What should I do during the intermission?
Our intermissions are 15 minutes long, which gives you time to socialize with your companions, get a drink in the 2nd floor lobby, visit the facilities, or simply sit in your seat and read the program notes. Do whatever puts you in a good frame of mind to hear the second half of the concert.
About the Orchestra
What is a symphony orchestra, exactly?
A symphony orchestra is a collection of up to about 80 musicians who play instruments of four basic types:
- Strings: violins (smallest, and highest in pitch), violas, cellos, and double basses (largest and lowest in pitch). These players sit in a semicircle directly in front of the conductor, and make up more than half the orchestra.
- Woodwinds: flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and related instruments. These players sit a few rows back from the conductor, in the center of the orchestra.
- Brasses: trumpets, horns, trombones, tubas, and similar instruments. These instruments are the loudest, so you’ll see them at the back of the orchestra.
- Percussion: the drums, bells, and other fascinating paraphernalia that are struck, plucked, rubbed, etc. This includes the kettledrums, the harp, and, on occasion, the piano. Some works use lots of different percussion; others may have a single musician playing the kettledrums, or no percussion at all. The percussion section is also found at the back of the orchestra.
Why are the musicians onstage playing before the concert begins?
Just like basketball players taking shots and practicing moves before the game, musicians need to warm up their muscles and focus their concentration. This is fun to listen to and to watch. Some of them are working on the passages they need to polish up before the performance, with no regard for what anyone else is practicing.
How come there are more stringed instruments than anything else?
The sound of each individual stringed instrument is softer than a brass or a woodwind instrument. But in large numbers, they make a magnificent, rich sonority.
What does the concertmaster do?
The concertmaster, Corine Brouwer, sits in the first chair of the first violins. She acts as leader of that section, but also plays a leadership role with orchestra as a whole. She is also the last orchestra musician to enter the stage before a concert, and cues the principal oboist to “tune” the orchestra.
Why do all the musicians tune to the oboe?
The penetrating tone of the oboe is easy for all players to hear, and its ability to sustain pitch is very secure. The principal oboist, John Hammarback, plays the note “A,” and all the players make sure their “A” is exactly on the same pitch as the oboe’s. This ensures that they all are in agreement about the tuning before the concert starts.
Why do the string players share stands?
Fewer stands mean that the musicians, who are moving around quite a bit, have more room to play freely. Also, because the strings play more continuously than the other parts, their page turns can fall in inconvenient places where there should be no break in the music. Look closely and you’ll see that the player on the outside keeps playing, while the player on the inside briefly stops playing to turn the page.