"I've never been to a classical concert before"

You've come to the right place. Everyone remembers how unsure they were at their very first concert, so we've put together a list of the most commonly asked questions below.
If you can't find the answer here, please contact us using the online form, or . Or just come along to a concert the people on the ticket desk at the entrance will always be pleased to help, or to point you at someone who can.

What is classical music?
Will I enjoy a classical concert?
Will I recognise the pieces?
What should I wear?
When should I clap?
How long is a concert?
Are concerts are suitable for children?
Can I buy tickets on the door?
Are there refreshments available?
Where can I park?
What about accessible facilities at St Andrews Hall?
What are all the instruments?
Does the Chorus always sing at concerts?
How can I find out more about classical music?

What is classical music?

Like so many kinds of music, defining exactly what is 'classical' is quite difficult. Experts would say that it is music from a particular period of history, around 1750 and 1830. But people also use the term more generally to mean music played by a number of instruments together in an orchestra, or perhaps a smaller group. There may be a choir and instrumental soloists or singers too. The music may have been written as long ago as the 14th century or as recently as this week.

Will I enjoy a classical concert?

Never underestimate the 'wow factor' of a full live concert. It's always so much more than just putting on a CD at home. But like anything, the best way to find out if you'll enjoy it, is to come along to a concert and try it out for yourself. Why not bring a friend along to share the experience too?

Will I recognise the pieces?

Quite possibly. This season we will be playing several pieces you may have heard before. Click on the links below to hear short excerpts:

Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No.3 which you may remember from the film Shine

 

Kabalevsy's Overture Colas Breugnon - a real five minute romp

 

The lilting tones of Brahms Song of Destiny

 

What should I wear?

Whatever you want! Whatever feels comfortable. The most important thing is that you enjoy your evening. Some of our audience members dress quite smartly, and some just turn up in jeans or track suits and trainers.

When should I clap?

If you're not familiar with the music, it can be difficult to know when you are 'supposed' to clap. Normally, you clap only at the end of a piece (rather than between movements). If you don't know the music well, your concert programme will tell you how many movements there are in a piece. There is usually (but not always) a short pause between movements, which you can use as a guide. If you're unsure, just wait until everyone else starts clapping and then join in!

How long is a concert?

Around 2 hours, 19:30-21:30, divided into two sections of 45-50 minutes each, with an interval of about 20 minutes in the middle.

Are concerts suitable for children?

We believe it's very important to encourage young people to come along to all our concerts, and for this reason we offer a lot of our concert tickets at a flat rate of £5 for anyone under 26 years of age (see here for details). You do have to be mindful though, that each concert half is around 45-50 minutes long, and that the very youngest children may find it hard to sit still and listen for that length of time. You don't want to put them off for good!

Can I buy tickets on the door?

Yes, but some concerts sell out in advance. So to be absolutely certain of your tickets you need to buy them before the evening of the concert from St George's Music Shop or online. Ticket price details are here.

Are there refreshments available?

Yes. The bar behind the main stage is open before our concerts and during the interval. To save queuing you can order interval drinks before the concert starts. Coffees and teas are also served in the interval in the Crypt, down the stairs to the left of the stage. If you want to go for a drink or a meal before or after the concert, there are numerous pubs and restaurants nearby too. More information is linked from our website here.

Where can I park?

Details of nearby car parks, and other travel details are on our website here.

What about accessible facilities at St Andrews Hall?

St Andrews Hall has the following facilities:

If you have any particular questions about disabled access, you can contact the hall here.

What are all the instruments?

A full symphony orchestra can look confusing on the stage. There is a good guide to all the instruments, what they look like and what they sound like, here

Does the Chorus always sing at concerts?

The Phil has a fantastic Chorus, who perform in two concerts a year (usually in November and March) and also at our Christmas concert. Check the Concerts section of the website for details. The two remaining concerts of each season are purely orchestral.

How can I find out more about classical music?

Classic fm (if you can live with the adverts), or BBC Radio 3 (if you can't) are good places to start.

Alternatively, most of the generally acknowledged classical "goodies" are listed in Classic fm's Hall of Fame – a kind of top 300 of classical pieces, voted for by listeners. Once you know the names of pieces, you can use Spotify on your computer to search for, and listen to them, or go down to the Millenium Library in the Forum in Norwich and borrow from their large selection of classical CD's. It only costs 80p per week per CD.