Symphony concert etiquette 101

audience members listening to classical music
audience members listening to classical music















I keep getting asked by my first-time friends that want to join me for a classical event, “Shelly, it is my first time to go to a concert, what should I wear?” Audience etiquette is a slippery thing.

wholeAttending a classical music concert is a vastly different experience from attending a jazz concert or live band event at the popular Choices Club. Although some audience members may initially be intimidated by the general formal atmosphere of a classical concert, the rules of etiquette for such a concert are actually straightforward and simple once you get used to them.

Most Kenyans aren’t used to a live classical music event. An attempt by Safaricom Limited to try and create a culture of appreciating classical music dubbed “Classical Fusion” did not play out as anticipated with decimal attendance as opposed to the jazz events they sponsor. Most did not care about what was going on and there was a lot of distraction in between the performances, this was quite irritating. Thus through the event, the MC would have to tell the audience to be quiet, unfortunately, Kenyans at an event with a cash bar on a weekend love to have a good time, no one bothered to respect the simple unspoken rules of etiquette.

Audience members listening to good classical music
Audience members listening to good classical music

What most people aren’t told is that there are no rules per say in the mode of dressing as you head for a concert although they are usually unspoken and unwritten rule on how to conduct yourself in such an audience. Show up and listen!

audience well dressed
Well-dressed audience member 🙂

So why is there such a big buzz on how to act as an audience member? Can you imagine if you went to Braeburn for a concert and found the musicians reading the score of off their smartphones! Or if you had to read the programme online or off your phone? (Btw, why is air conducting or just simply head bopping not an honest response that you had a good time, but we have to applaud or give a standing ovation? Why is it permissible to shout “bravo” after an opera aria, but not after a flash concerto cadenza, hahaha hilarious ain’t it?)

In short, I always dress up but not for anyone I do it for myself. I think it’s the respectful thing to do, not just for you, but for the musicians too; they themselves dress incredibly smart.

quiant audienceI believe people go to classical music concerts to have a cultured evening and an elevated experience, which is why I think it’s a bad idea for organizations to promote a casual dress code for their musicians.

Ideally, there aren’t any rules out there but simply to relax, enjoy the concert and not distract those around you.



Photo credits

Featured image:

Article images:

Quaint Photography and RichAllela


Edited by: Kuchio J 🙂

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