Many first-time and returning audience members have questions about the OSO.  Sometimes these questions can be answered by a seatmate, but sometimes they may not get answered at all. To help enrich everyone’s experiences, the OSO would like to share some of our most frequently asked questions.


What am I supposed to wear to an OSO performance?

We encourage our audience to wear what’s comfortable for them. Some like to dress up and others will come in jeans and t-shirts. It’s all good. Once in a while, our performances may have a theme (like last season’s Oscars and Harry Potter specials) where we’ll even encourage you to attend in costume, if you like!

Why do the performers look so formal?

Historically, orchestral musicians performed in royal houses in formal attire. These days, you’ll often see our performers dressed in a similar style of black clothing. Having a consistent ‘look’ helps the audience focus on the music, and all its performers equally. Although, our players - and Maestra Thomson - are always game to indulge in a bit of dress-up, depending on the program.

What is happening at the very start when all the musicians seem to be playing random notes?

Instrument tuning happens at the start of each performance to ensure all musicians are perfectly in tune with one another. Some instrument components can be very sensitive to heat and humidity, and these factors can change their tuning even over the course of an evening.


In order to do this, you will see our Concertmaster, Rachel Kristenson, stand up and ask for quiet. Then a tuning note (an “A”) is played and musicians play that same note on their instruments to hear if they are exactly in tune. Adjustments are made, and then it’s time for Maestra Thomson to come on stage.

I applauded when no one else did. Is that bad?

Don’t worry about it. Applause is a natural response when you have been moved by the music. For Masterworks performances, holding applause between movements is generally done to help the performers’ concentration and support continuity of the piece. An easy tip to remember is that the conductor generally signals when a piece is over by putting his or her arms down and turning to the audience.

How long is a typical performance?

Performance times vary, but our mainstage shows generally last somewhere between 2 to 2.5 hours, including intermission.


What time do doors open for a performance?

Typically, we open doors one hour before the start of each performance. For all of our Masterworks performances, Maestra Thomson conducts a free pre-concert chat during this time to provide insight into the program and provide tips about what to listen for.

May I photograph or record the performance?

Unfortunately, we do not allow any audio or recording devices during a performance.

What if I arrive late?

Each of our venues typically allows for late seating, which is scheduled in specific intervals, based on the program. Our ushers and Front of House Manager will help you get to where you need to be.

What if I have other questions?

Feel free to contact the OSO office at Or call us at 250-763-7544.