Choosing a Concert
There are lots of kinds of concerts. How do you pick one? First of all, you have to find out
what’s going on.
• Ask around: Word of mouth is one of the best ways to learn about concerts. Ask friends
and fellow music lovers what’s coming up, what musicians and groups are good to hear,
which locations are the most enjoyable or convenient. Word of mouth is the only way to
find out about the many unpublicized classical concerts that pop up in homes, at parties
and celebrations, or at other private events.
• Internet: The Internet is overflowing with information about concerts. Concert halls and
music organizations post their schedules online. Newspaper and ticket agency web sites
list upcoming concerts. Performers and composers have web sites with performance
schedules. Some music blogs list upcoming events. Music web sites provide links to other
music sites. In some cities, music organizations, arts agencies, or music-loving individuals
post concert calendars online.
Search the Internet for a concert location, a
performer or group, a music organization, or even
a piece of music that you want to hear. Or try
searching for “concert” and the place where you live.
It took me a long time to realize
that people donít agree about
what is beautiful. Music that deeply
moves one person might irritate
another. Listenersí wildly different
tastes can make it confusing to read
reviews or to ask peopleís opinions
about concerts; those people might
not like the same things you do. But
it sure makes for entertaining afterconcert
a performance, my friends and I
sometimes sound like we were at
entirely different concerts. In a way,
• Newspapers: Most newspapers publish listings
and advertisements for upcoming concerts. Check the Sunday paper for a list of the week’s concerts.
Sometimes the Thursday or Friday paper will have a
list of weekend events. Weekly papers often include
calendars of coming events.
• Radio announcements: If you listen to a classical
or public radio station, you’re familiar with their
announcements of upcoming events. Some stations read
a calendar of events; others broadcast interviews with
performers who are about to perform locally. Sometimes
a station will play recordings of music that will be heard
in concert. Call your local station and ask them when
you can hear information about live concerts. Don’t be
shy—public stations like to hear from the public!
• Season brochures: Many concert-giving organizations
publish a brochure promoting all their concerts for the
season. Usually a season is like the school year: it starts in
the fall and ends in the spring. Some organizations have
summer seasons, or produce special festivals that run for
a shorter time.
Request a brochure by emailing or phoning, or via the
organization’s web site. They will be delighted to add another
name to their mailing list! (If you want a brochure but don’t
want to be on the mailing list, be sure to tell them.)
• Mailing lists: In some cities individuals or
organizations offer calendars of coming events via email
or newsletter—look for these online, or check with the
local arts council or arts agency.
Concert-givers maintain mailing lists for sending emails, brochures, newsletters,
reminders about coming events, special ticket offers, and access to special events. Sign
up online, by phone, or at concerts.
|Organizations that typically publish concert brochures|
Chamber music societies
University concert series
Churches and temples
• Musicians-in-training: Musicians learn to perform by performing, so there are always
concerts by young musicians. These events may not be widely publicized, but usually
the public is welcome. Look for concerts at college and university music departments,
at high schools, at music schools, and at music stores. Your area may have a youthorchestra or youth choir. Local music teachers present
recitals by their students. Summer music camps
give end-of-session concerts. Special institutes
and workshops for training young professional
instrumentalists, dancers, or singers usually present
• Community musicmaking: Some churches and
temples have excellent music departments. You
can hear beautiful live music in their services and at
Your community may have a community orchestra,
band, or choir. This community ensemble may consist
entirely of amateur musicians making music for their
own pleasure, it may include some professionals to
bolster the sound, or it may be a professional group
supported by the community.
• Other concert opportunities: College classes about music (often called “Music
Appreciation”) sometimes use live music. Signing up for this kind of class can be a great
way to listen and learn.
Sometimes professional groups allow listeners to attend a rehearsal. Other
organizations will invite you to attend special presentations or open rehearsals if you make
You never know where a classical concert might crop up. Opera has been presented on
farms in rural areas. Chamber music is heard on shipboard on special cruises. Choruses
invade shopping malls. Keep your eyes and ears open.
|Finding Concerts on the internet|
Chamber music societies
Chamber music groups
University concert series
College music departments
Churches and temples
When Concerts Happen
Classical music concerts can happen at just about any time, so pick the
time that’s best for you. There are more concerts on weekends, but in
many cities you can find a concert almost every night of the week. Some
downtown areas have special lunchtime or early-evening concerts to fit
the urban work schedule. There are even some breakfast concerts!
Student concerts in music departments may happen in the afternoon or evening,
and sometimes even in the morning. Concerts for families happen on weekends. Other
children’s concerts happen during the school day, when performers visit a school or when
children visit a concert hall.
The two most common starting times for concerts are in the evening, about eight
o’clock, and in the afternoon, at two or three.
Some concerts happen only once, so you have only one chance to hear them. Other
concerts are given repeat performances. A big-city symphony orchestra will typically play
the same music two or three or four times in a week. The following week they will play
Some concerts recur annually. Some groups present Handel’s Messiah, or Bach’s
Brandenburg Concertos, or Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet, every year.
How Long Does a Concert Last?
Concerts come in many different sizes, but most last between ninety minutes and two
hours. This includes an intermission—you won’t be sitting there listening the whole time.
Noontime concerts can be as short as forty-five minutes, and children’s concerts
are short, too. Some concerts last longer than two hours, as do many ballet and opera
performances. Sometimes there is more
than one intermission. Marathon concerts,
celebrating a single composer or some
other unifying idea, can last for many hours,
sometimes continuing all night long.
You may be able to find out the length of
a concert by checking the web site or other
publicity. Sometimes the only way to find out
is to call. If the box office doesn’t have the
information, call the administrative office.