Have questions about the Holland Symphony Orchestra?

We are glad that you are interested in our concerts, which are always special occasions. We want to help make every concert a great experience for the audience and the orchestra, and so have asked some questions that you might have and given our answers below in an effort to help make that happen.

You can expect to hear a dedicated orchestra perform a wide variety of music throughout the year. At the regular season concerts, traditional classical,  contemporary orchestral music, and music from composers all around the world is performed. This may include overtures, symphonies, concertos performed with a soloist, and more. The Holiday Concert always includes seasonal music.  The March Classics Discovery Concert features the winner of the young people’s concerto competition performing one movement of a concerto with the symphony. Most concerts last 1 1⁄2 hours, with an intermission about halfway through.

There isn’t a dress code; some people dress up, others wear business clothes or nicer casual clothes. You should be comfortable and yet show respect for the orchestra members who are performing for you.

You should still try to arrive 20 minutes before a concert begins to allow time to park, find your seat and have time to look at the program online or the printed sheet passed out at the concert. 

After 5:00pm guests may park in any of the Faculty/Staff Lots at Hope College. Handicapped parking will be available in lot 40 off 9th St. directly behind the Jack H. Miller Center. (See attached map.)

The printed program page distributed at the concert gives you very helpful information.  On the page for each concert, there is a list of the pieces that will be performed, along with the names of the composers, any soloists, and the musicians in the orchestra.  If a symphony is being performed, the movements are listed so that you can follow each part of the piece and know when to clap (or when to hold your applause – see When should I clap? below). There is also a QR code on the printed program which will take you to the website program information.  The website online program also includes program notes, which give background information about each of the pieces and the composers; the notes give interesting and fun facts about the music including a video clip from the music director and concertmaster regarding the concert. The website also lists upcoming events and helps you to become acquainted with the wide variety of activities and information about HSO.

The concert begins when the concertmaster (first chair violinist) walks on to the stage. The audience applauds to show appreciation. After the orchestra tunes, the conductor enters, and is also greeted with applause. When a soloist comes on stage, they are also welcomed with applause. Once the orchestra starts playing, you usually don’t clap until the end of the piece. The signal that a piece has ended is when the conductor puts down his baton and turns to face the audience. The most confusion about clapping comes during a symphony, which is usually comprised of 3 or 4 movements. Although there may be a long pause between movements, applause is usually held until all have been performed to maintain the continuity of the entire work. Sometimes the audience will applaud for the soloist at the end of a movement to show how much they have enjoyed that particular part of the music, but in most cases, just wait until the end of the piece. Of course, you can always wait to clap until everyone else does!

Coughing can be uncomfortable for you and the people around you, so try to plan ahead if you think you will be coughing during the concert. A drink of water just before the concert can help. If you really need to cough repeatedly, it is fine to leave your seat and return between pieces.  Talking, singing and humming are distractions to your fellow listeners and the orchestra as well, and except as noted above, you shouldn’t leave your seat during the performance.

You may bring your cell phone, but please be sure to turn it off before the concert starts and when you come back in after intermission. The same is true for pagers and alarm watches. No photographs may be taken at concerts, and no recordings of any kind may be made at any time.

In Conclusion

We could list many more questions and answers, but the most important thing for you to know is that we are delighted that you are interested in our concerts, and we hope that you have a wonderful time listening to the Holland Symphony Orchestra perform for you! If you do have other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the HSO office at 616-796-6780.