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Helpful Tips for Attending a Classical Performance

Welcome to SPAC! Whether you’re joining us for the first time or you’ve been coming for years, we’re so glad you’re here. Here are some tips to enhance your experience while watching a classical performance in the SPAC Amphitheater.  

Helpful Tips: FAQs

What’s A Good Seat?

There isn’t a bad seat in the house! Some audience members prefer to sit closer to the stage, in the orchestra sections, so they can be closer to the performers and see them more clearly, while others sit in the balcony where they can see the entire orchestra or ballet company at once.  Many of our guests also enjoy the experience on the lawn to picnic or spread out with family and friends.  

Is There A Dress Code?

There is no dress code at SPAC! Feel like wearing jeans and a tee shirt? Awesome! How about a suit and tie or a cocktail dress? Great! You will see a variety in the way audience members dress. 

Should I Study Up Before I Go?

There’s no need to study before you attend a performance, just come and enjoy! However, some concertgoers do find the performance to be more enjoyable if they do a little preparation beforehand.   This can be as simple as visiting the performance page on our website for details about the program or reading the program notes found in the house program when you arrive for the show. It’s entirely up to you, but the performance will speak for itself!   

How Long Are The Performances?

Most classical concerts and ballets last approximately 1-2 hours with one or two 20 minute intermission(s). Select productions are 90 minutes with no intermission.  

Evening performances begin at 7:30PM, with Gates opening at 5:30PM and The House/Amphitheater opening at 7:00PM.  

When Do I Applaud?

For orchestral performances, the concert will begin with the Concertmaster coming 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 and everyone will clap to welcome them, too. This is also a good moment to make sure your program is open, so you can follow along with what is being performed.  

A symphony or large orchestral piece may be comprised of multiple movements (they will be listed in your program). The audience will applaud at the conclusion of the entire piece and tries to avoid clapping in between movements so as not break the concentration of the performers or the mood in the theater. However, this can be tricky because there may be periods of silence in between each movement that make it appear as though the piece has ended. In general, watching the conductor and performer’s reactions is a good way to tell if a piece has concluded. If the conductor’s arms are still up and the performer’s attentions are still focused on their music stands, then there’s most likely more music to come. When in doubt, it’s always safe to wait and follow what the rest of the audience does. 

If you do applaud between movements, don’t worry, it’s only in recent years that audiences have stopped applauding in between movements. After all, what’s most important is you enjoyed the performance!  

For ballet performances with live music, the audience will clap when the conductor first appears. Similar to movements of orchestral pieces, ballets have separate sections. However, unlike the orchestra, audiences will applaud at the end of each section and the ballet as a whole, or even when a dancer does something impressive. Brava! 

Are Phones Allowed?

Before the performance begins, we welcome photography and video of your SPAC experience– feel free to tag us on social media (Facebook/Instagram) and we may share it to our stories!    

Once the curtain rises, please silence your electronic devices and refrain from using them until intermission or the end of the performance. The use of flash photography or any kind of recording devices are prohibited. 

When Should I Be In My Seat?

Listen for the fanfare, a musical cue over the speakers, which will signal that the performance is about to begin or resume. If you are sitting in the amphitheater, please stay seated until intermission. Latecomers will be seated by ushers the when there is a pause in the program.

What Do I Need To Know About Attending A Performance With Children?

Did you know? Kids under 12 are free on the lawn and receive 50% off seats in the amphitheater for performances of the New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival! Bringing the whole family? Check out our Ways To Save page! 

In addition, we host family friendly programming including our film nights with The Philadelphia Orchestra and our NYCB On and Off Stage productions.  

To learn more about family workshops and interactive classes as part of our education program, visit XX.  

What If I Need Medical Assistance Or There Is An Emergency?

We have medical staff onsite and readily available. If there is an emergency, please call the Saratoga Spa State Park police : (518) 584-2004. 

Golf carts are available to assist guests with disabilities from the entrance to their seats. 

Please see our Accessibility page for more details.

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