First time?


by Jeffrey, The concert guy

Attending an orchestral concert can seem daunting to someone who has not had the opportunity to attend. First time concert goers may get immersed in the traditions of the 19th century, but there are definitely 21st century elements. Granted, you shouldn’t be the guy in ripped jeans and a dirty t-shirt, chain smoking and talking on his cell phone in the middle of Maestro Zander’s performance, because a.) smoking is illegal in both of our venues and b.) inappropriate concert garb and noisy interruptions should be too; however, you don’t want to be the guy in a tux, twirling his monocle with his nose pointing to the ceiling.

Here are some helpful hints for attending your first performance:


This is usually the first question that people ask. “What should I wear?” Leave your ripped clothing, gogo boots, leather chaps, racing shorts, and tube tops at home. If you can wear a certain outfit to the office or dinner at Grandma’s house, supposing your Grandma isn’t a Hell’s Angel, then you can probably wear the same garb to our concert.


Our ushers are highly trained individuals, some of them former bouncers, and they are not keen on admitting the tardy. “But I was checking my coat.” “My stuff is sitting in my chair and I need to get inside.” “The T is SO undependable. I’m sure you understand.” Tough cookies. You will have to wait until a pause in the piece or until intermission if you are late.


Late because you were parking the car? Try these parking garages:

Parking at Sanders Theatre: Parking is FREE for Boston Philharmonic concerts at the Broadway Garage.

Parking at Jordan Hall:  There are several garages in the area including: Prudential Center Garage (present your ticket stub and get a discount), Gainsborough Garage (10 Gainsborough Street) and Church Park Garage (35 Westland Avenue).


Blaming the T for your woes? Here are the lines you should use for our performances.

Sanders Theatre: The Harvard Square stop on the Red Line of the MBTA subway system is a well-lit five minute walk from the theatre.

Jordan Hall: You can take the Green Line E Train to the Symphony stop or the Orange Line to the Massachusetts Avenue stop. NEC’s Jordan Hall is a short walk from either location.


Sanders Theatre: Take Storrow Drive to the Harvard Square exit. Turn right at end of ramp onto John F. Kennedy Street. Harvard Square is approximately ½ mile straight ahead. “The Coop” will be on the left. Continue forward on what is now Massachusetts Avenue, stay in middle lane. At the next light stay to the right. In the underpass, bear left following signs for Cambridge/Kirkland Streets. This will bring you to a traffic light with Sanders Theatre on your left.

Jordan Hall: From Storrow Drive inbound take the Kenmore Square/Fenway exit and follow the signs to Fenway. At the first light bear left and continue following the round around onto Westland Avenue. Merge right onto Massachusetts Avenue; turn right after Symphony Hall onto Huntington Avenue. Turn Left at the next light, Gainsborough Street. Jordan Hall is located immediately to the right.

Traffic holding you up? Consider leaving more time for your commute so that you might even make room for a quick bite at any of these local restaurants.


On top of hearing the entire show, you may also get to learn something about the music if you arrive on time. Thursday concerts are part of our Discovery Series. For these concerts, the Maestro offers an integrated lecture/performance. Throughout the evening, he and the orchestra will offer loads of insightful tidbits about the music being performed. Saturday and Sunday concerts are strictly music, but you can always attend the pre-concert talk that starts an hour and fifteen minutes prior to the concert. These talks can cover the history of the works and composers, and often are accompanied by the orchestra to highlight parts of the discussion. Your attendance at the pre-concert talk could make the difference between that guy who fell asleep during the concert and that guy who knows his stuff.


If you aren’t sure you’re supposed to be clapping, you probably shouldn’t decide you’re going to be the guy to show everyone else when to. Let the seasoned vets show you how it’s done. If everyone else is clapping, then you should join them. They will clap when the musicians enter the stage and when pieces are finished. I repeat-- finished. In between movements, the players will pause for fifteen to thirty seconds, and if you don’t like the piece you may wish it were over, but the players aren’t finished until a significant pause of over thirty seconds.


Yes, some people do exit the theater during the performance. We frown and stick up our noses at you, but it happens. Unless you have a medical emergency that requires your attention in the middle of a movement, we ask that you stay seated until the Maestro lowers his baton and your neighbors hop out of their seats to give a standing ovation. Something to keep in mind: you won’t be allowed to re-enter the hall if you leave in the middle. In that case, you may end up spending more time with our ushers than your fellow concertgoers.


Food and beverages are available in the lobby. They should stay there. Leave time to finish your food and drink before returning to your seat. Don’t be that guy who bought a bag of chips and spends the entirety of the concert trying to find a way to open it quietly; it isn’t possible and it’s strictly prohibited. Dispose of any and all garbage in the receptacles before entering the theater.


Our super spies, aka the ushers, are also patrolling the hall for potential paparazzo. All violators are escorted out of the theater. General cell phone usage, including text messages, is met with like disapproval. Do not try to out maneuver our ushers. They will find you and if they don’t, you’ll wish they did. Our patrons have been known to bully cell phone users into submission.


Check out our Orchestras 101 Guide. It’s sass free, for those of you who can’t handle Jeffrey’s candor.