Studio Symphony Orchestra

Frequently Asked Questions


If you do not attend orchestral concerts regularly or are looking for some specific information about SSO concerts, you may these answers helpful.

  1. Would I enjoy an SSO concert ?
  2. What is a Symphony Orchestra ?
  3. How many players are there in the SSO ?
  4. Will I recognise the music
  5. Do I need to know the music before I attend a performance ?
  6. What should I wear ?
  7. May I bring my mobile phone or pager
  8. May I take photographs ?
  9. What if I need to cough ?
  10. When should I arrive ?
  11. What if I’m late
  12. When do I applaud ?
  13. How long will a typical concert last ?
  14. Where can I purchase tickets ?
  15. How can I buy a programme ?
  16. Are the concerts suitable for children ?


You will find lots of information in the Concerts Section of this web site about forthcoming SSO concerts. If you would like to receive email updates about concerts from us, or receive concert information by post, please visit our Email or Mailing List pages.


Would I enjoy an SSO concert?
We certainly hope so!  People often comment on the friendly atmosphere at our concerts and enjoy the opportunity to mingle with the musicians during the interval.  We perform music because we want to, not because we have to, and we are told that our enthusiasm is often conveyed to the audience in our performances.  We only perform 4 or 5 times a year, so every concert is a special occasion.

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What is a Symphony Orchestra?
The term “Symphony Orchestra” is used to describe the largest type of orchestra, in contrast with the smaller “Chamber Orchestra”.  A Symphony Orchestra is comprised of four different sections: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. The instruments in each section include:

Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass
Woodwinds: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon
Brass: French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba
Percussion: Timpani, Cymbals, Bass Drum

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How many players are there in the orchestra?
The SSO has around 60 regular members but we may augment our numbers with guest players to meet the requirements of larger scale works.  Different pieces require different orchestral forces, so in any one concert the number of players and which instruments are on stage is a direct result of the composer's requirements. For example, a work by Richard Strauss will typically have been written for a very large orchestra (we had 115 musicians on stage when we performed his Alpine Symphony in the Ulster Hall), whereas a typical Mozart symphony may only require around 30 - 40 players.

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Will I recognise the music?
It is very likely that you will recognise parts of many different classical works. Music written by the great composers is often used in film soundtracks and on television, both as theme tunes and in commercials.

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Do I need to know the music before I attend a performance?
It is not necessary to know the music. One of the joys of going to an SSO concert is being introduced to a great piece of music you've never heard before, or listening to a live performance of a piece you haven't heard in years. Some regular concert-goers do find they appreciate the performance more if they listen to a recording of the piece before the concert, so they can better anticipate their favourite parts. Many audience members also find it enhances their enjoyment of the music if they take the time before the performance to read the notes in the programme about the composer and the pieces that are to be played. You may also read these notes on this site prior to a concert – see the Programme Notes page.

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What should I wear?
Wear whatever makes you comfortable. Contrary to what many people anticipate, formal attire is not necessary at SSO concerts. You will see concert goers in suits, sweaters, skirts, jeans, dresses – everything!  Many people do, however, wear smart clothes for classical concerts, perhaps because they are coming straight from work or the evening is an outing for a special occasion.

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May I bring my mobile phone or pager?
If you bring a mobile phone or pager, please remember to turn it off COMPLETELY before entering the concert venue. Noises such as a phone ringing are very distracting to the conductor, the musicians and your fellow audience members.

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May I take photographs?
The use of still, video and digital cameras, mobile phone cameras or audio recording equipment is prohibited at all times in all venues.

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What if I need to cough?
Silence is the canvas on which music is experienced, so for maximum concentration and enjoyment, the audience should be as quiet as possible. Coughing is an unavoidable problem, but there are ways to avoid coughing during the music. If you feel a cold coming on, please bring lozenges with you. If there are no lozenges on hand and you need to cough, please try to wait for the end of the movement. If that's not possible, you can try to “bury” your cough in a louder section of the music. A handkerchief or scarf will also help to muffle the disruption. If you need to cough more than a couple of times, there is nothing wrong with getting up and excusing yourself from the auditorium for the rest of the movement. Other sources of noise that normally go unheard in daily life (whispering, humming, tapping, turning pages, etc.) will be noticed by everyone around you. Being aware of this will show sensitivity to your neighbours and allow everyone to have a more enjoyable concert experience.

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When should I arrive?
We suggest you arrive at least 20 minutes before the concert is scheduled to begin. That will give you ample time to find your seat, relax, read the programme notes, and watch the musicians as they come on stage.

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What if I am late?
The auditorium doors are closed once each performance has commenced, and latecomers will not be admitted until a suitable break in the performance.

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When do I applaud?
There are two reasons to applaud at an SSO concert: as a greeting, and to show appreciation. Just before the concert begins, the orchestra members will all be seated on the stage, except for the leader - the violinist who sits in the first chair of the first row of the orchestra. You applaud to greet the leader when she comes on stage, and applaud again a few moments later when the conductor comes on stage. Any soloists who will be performing will usually come on stage with the conductor, and you applaud to greet the soloist or soloists as well. Once the performance begins, you will notice in your programme that many works have three or more separate movements or sections. A short pause often follows each movement. It is customary to refrain from applauding during these pauses. After the final movement of a work, you may applaud to your heart's content!

If you’re still uncertain when to applaud, a good sign is when the conductor either turns around or steps off the podium. If all else fails, you can always wait for the rest of the audience to begin clapping!

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How long will a typical concert last?
Although the length of a concert will vary, most SSO performances last for approximately two hours, including one 15 minute interval.

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Where can I purchase tickets for SSO concerts?
For details of where to purchase tickets, please see the Ticket Sales section of this site.

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How can I buy a programme?
Programmes may be purchased at the venue anytime before the concert starts or during the interval.  You may also read the notes on individual works on this site prior to a concert – see the Programme Notes page.

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Are the concerts suitable for children?
Most concerts last for around 2 hours, which is a long time to expect very young children not to get restless. Our concerts are certainly suitable for ages 11 and older, and most programmes can be enjoyed by younger children if you feel that they would have sustained interest.

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