First Time at the Symphony?

Welcome to the Jacksonville Symphony! Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time with us, we care a lot about every single person in the beautiful Jacoby Symphony Hall. The orchestra rehearses for hours each week, but the magic doesn’t happen until you’re here to enjoy it with us. So, if there is anything we can do to make you feel welcome, please feel free to speak with an usher or staff member. You can also tell us about your experience here.

Here's what to expect:

First Things First

The concertmaster enters the stage – they are the principal, or leader, of the string section and sit to the left of the conductor. The string section includes- from smallest to largest-two sections of violins (the highest pitched strings), violas, cellos and basses.

Tuning Note

The concertmaster cues a note from the principal oboe for the woodwinds (flutes, clarinets, oboes and bassoons) and brass (trumpets, trombones, French horns and tubas). The only percussion instrument (the drums and keyboards in the back) that is tuned is the timpani – spot the timpanist putting his ear close to the head of the drum as he tunes.

Conductor Enters

A conductor’s most basic job is to use a baton to keep time and make sure the orchestra starts and stops together, but the magic is in their gestures, which give the musicians cues as to how they should play the notes as a unit to express the music.

Time for the Music!

The best way to enjoy the music is to just listen and see where it takes you. It is perfectly natural for your mind to, so don’t be discouraged or anxious about listening a certain way. This moment is for you. Here are a few insider tricks make the most of it:

Image
  • If you’re here for a Masterworks series concert, read the program notes (located after the program page) before the concert begins.
  • See if you can pick out which instrument holds the melody (the part you can sing along with).
  • Close your eyes and imagine the memories, colors, movie scenes, images or moods the music brings to mind.
  • Listen for patterns in rhythm, sound or melody and notice how they change.
  • You might hear a composer winking at you – many of them have a great sense of humor!

Clapping

There are two reasons to applaud at a Jacksonville Symphony concert: as a greeting, and to show appreciation! 
Before the concert begins, the Symphony members will all be seated on the stage, except for the concertmaster. You can applaud to greet the concertmaster, conductor and any soloists who will be performing. It is customary to not applaud again until the very end of each piece of music (even if there are multiple movements with pauses in between). The program will list the movements in each piece, so you will know how many there are. If unsure, wait for everyone else! 
The conductor recognizes players who performed special parts on their own. Loved it? Yell Bravo! Sometimes, if you clap enough, you’ll get a special “encore” from a featured soloist who comes out to play by him or herself.

Intermission

Usually 20 minutes, intermission is a break for your mind, and a chance to prepare for more awe-inspiring music.
Five things to try:

  1.   Meet the people in the seats nearby
  2.   Take a selfie with the Bryan Concert Organ and check into the #jaxsymphony on Facebook or Instagram.
  3.   Take in Jacksonville’s best view of the St. Johns River in the Uible Lobby.
  4.   Not sure about which instrument is which? Try using the musicians’ roster to match faces to instruments.
  5.   Spot our librarian, Bart, when he switches the Conductor’s music on the podium.

Afterward

A Jacksonville Symphony concert is always amazing, but never the same, so pick your next concert and make sure you’re on our email list to receive a special offer. Related concert suggestions can be found on the event pages - start here.