South Carolina Philharmonic

Symphony 101

To enhance your concert experience (especially if you are a first-time symphony-goer), read the following to find answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Philharmonic.

If your question if not answered, please send an e-mail to or call 803.254.PHIL (7445).

Classical music is music from hundreds of years ago played by big orchestras with lots of violins and a old guy in a black suit waving a stick leading the whole show. Right?

Classical music can be like this, but it encompasses a whole lot more. Classical music includes Gregorian chant from a thousand years ago, but also the music of Philip Glass from just last month. It can be as simple as a single singer performing a song, a group of friends playing a string quartet, or an orchestra with hundreds of players. It can be background music, or it can wake you up and make you listen.

Classical music is not so much from a particular time, as written for a particular reason. It is the art music of the Western World. If popular music is written to simply entertain, then classical music is written to express something significant or great. It is written to express an idea, explore a theme or let loose an emotion. Most importantly, it aims to transfer that idea or theme or emotion to the listener, and make them THINK.

The term "classical music" can represent anything from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to a Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto. Generally, classical music is played by a symphonic ensemble comprised of strings (violins, violas, cellos and basses), woodwinds (clarinets, oboes, flutes and bassoons), brass (trumpets, horns, trombones and tubas) and percussion (timpani, other drums, mallet instruments, etc.), or some combination thereof.
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Will I enjoy the concert?

Absolutely! Gain insights by attending pre-concert Classical Conversations at 6:20 p.m. before each Master Series concert. Classical Conversations are free to all concert ticket holders, but arrive early -- seating is limited.
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Will I recognize any music?

You may very well recognize far more than you realize. Many popular songs of today (including those from television and movies) either include or are taken from classical themes -- The Lone Ranger is Rossini's William Tell Overture, the Bugs Bunny Cartoon "What's Opera, Doc?" is Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries and many people recognize any number of pieces from Walt Disney's "Fantasia."
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What are seasons and series?

When we use the term "season," we mean the months from September to April when our concerts take place. The 2007-2008 season, for example is September 2007 to April 2008. A "series" is a set of pre-selected concerts that you can often purchase as a package. They "go to together." This season, we have one series: Master Series (seven concerts). If you purchase a series, you become a subscriber. Subscribers enjoy many benefits including the same seats for each concert, discounts and more!
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My child was in a piano recital last year. Will it be like that?

At a recital, only a soloist performs. Recitals are very intimate, whereas concerts are intended for larger audiences. At our concerts, the entire Philharmonic performs.
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Can I exchange my tickets?

All subscription and single ticket sales are final. Sorry, no refunds or exchanges.
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I lost my tickets.

No problem! We can have a new set for you in advance or duplicates can be made at the ticket kiosk the night of the concert.
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Whom can I contact with questions or concerns?

If your question or concern is ticket related, contact our Audience Services Manager Jason Rapp at 803.254.PHIL or by e-mail at If your question or concern relates to another area, please visit our staff page to reach the right person.
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What time do concerts begin?

Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts. However, times may vary for special performances or series. Please check your tickets.
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How long are concerts?

All concerts are usually around 1 1/2 to 2 hours, including intermission.
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What should I wear?

We're about music, not appearance. From blue jeans to bowties and cummerbunds, we encourage our patrons to wear what they want! At our concerts, you will see everything from formalwear to business casual to blue jeans. You can't go wrong! (Well, shirts and shoes are required.) We do ask that you refrain from wearing heavy fragrances, so that everyone is comfortable.
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When should I clap?

The seasoned symphony-goer applauds after the end of a piece. This leads to some confusion at times as most pieces have movements which have periods of silence. A hint that may help you decipher a movement from the end of the piece: look at the conductor's arms, when they go down there is a good chance the piece is over! If in doubt, cheating by watching your neighbor is perfectly acceptable. Should you find yourself moved to clap in a place that your neighbor does not clap, do not fret! The Maestro and orchestra appreciate your enthusiasm.
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What about other noises?

Choose jewelry and watches carefully. Jangling bracelets and loudly ticking watches, while unnoticed by the wearer, may be a major source of annoyance for other audience members.

No chewing gum, please. The unconscious noises people make while chewing gum are disturbing to most people and are considered rude by many.

Turn off paging devices, cell phones and watch alarms. If you must be contacted during the performance, please leave your pager and/or cell phone and seat location with the House Manager.

Humming, singing and tapping your feet may not be appropriate. While some performances encourage active audience participation, others depend upon silence from the audience for maximum effect.

Unwrap cough drops and candies before the music begins or during a break between movements. Crinkling cellophane is a sound which carries throughout the auditorium. If you are caught off guard, unwrap the item quickly – tackling the task slowly will only prolong the disturbance, not make it quieter. For your convenience, the Philharmonic sells decorative mint tins in the lobby prior to each performance for $4. Also, Ricola USA Inc. has generously donated cough drops that are available for free in the lobby.

Arrive early. Latecomers disturb both the artists on stage and other audience members.

Cease talking and whispering as the house lights dim. It is very difficult to resist sharing comments with members of your party during the show, but your fellow audience members will appreciate your consideration.
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Can I bring the kids?

If bringing the children becomes a necessity rather than a luxury, please request seating on the aisle in case of restroom emergencies and be prepared to leave if your child becomes noisy and disruptive!
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Do you have child or student discounts?

Students receive half-price subscriptions and single tickets (w/ID) in all sections except I and IV.
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Do you have military discounts?

Military (active duty and retired) receive half-price subscriptions and single tickets (w/ID) in all sections except I and IV.
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Are there provisions for disabled persons?

Yes. The Koger Center for the Arts is completely accessible to people with disabilities. There is handicapped parking, ramps and restrooms. Limited handicapped seating available upon request is in section III.
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