South Carolina Philharmonic

Concert Etiquette

Come as you are!

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.

When should I clap?

Generally, it is considered proper concert etiquette to clap only after a piece is complete and the conductor has lowered his hands. This means that, for example, if you're listening to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, which has four movements, it is appropriate to clap after the last movement. You can look at your program book to find out how many movements a piece has. Usually, there is a 15 to 30 second pause in between movements. So, in the case of Beethoven's ninth symphony, you know you're hearing the finale after three pauses. If all else fails, you can always wait for the rest of the audience to clap before applauding.

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. Ricola USA, Inc. has generously provided cough drops free of charge.
  • 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.
  • Remain seated until the performance is over. Leaving early creates the same type of disturbance as arriving late, and it rather insulting to the performers.

If you're new to the Philharmonic, you may also want to read Symphony 101 for additional information.