Symphony 101

Symphony 101: 
You Have Questions – We Have Answers

If you’re reading this page, we hope that means you’re joining us for a Mari concert soon, and that’s GREAT!  Whether you know a little or a lot about classical music and/or orchestra concerts, we care about our audience and want you to have an excellent experience.  The topics we cover here are what many first time concert-goers tell us they need to know. But if you have a question that’s not answered here, please send us a message on Facebook, email, or call us at 274-8668.

You can also visit the ASO staff before or after a concert and during intermission. You’ll find our information table outside Atwood Concert Hall on the Orchestra Level of the Lorene Harrison Lobby. Stop by to say “hi” and let us help make your ASO concert experience spectacular!

Where do you perform, how do I get there, and where do I park?
The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra (ASO) performs most concerts in the Atwood Concert Hall of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts (ACPA), including Classic, Pops, and  Family Concerts. The annual free Neighborhood concert rotates throughout the local high schools. 

> Directions to ACPA and several convenient parking options.

Where do I buy tickets? 
You can purchase your single concert tickets at the CenterTix box office in person at 621 W 6th Ave, Anchorage, by calling 263-ARTS, or online at

What should I wear?

Randy More than anything, we want you to be comfortable! If you like dressing up and going out for the evening, do it; you won’t be the only one, we promise. But formal attire like tuxedos and evening gowns are not required. They aren't even the norm. Most concert-goers wear business or cocktail attire, or “Sunday best,” but you'll see everything from khakis, jeans, and sweaters to suits and ties. This is Alaska, after all. A coat check is located on the street-level lobby so you don’t need to bring your heavy winter coats into the concert hall. The name of the game is comfort and practicality. First and foremost, we want you to enjoy the music and your ASO experience.

What if I am late?
For the comfort and enjoyment of our musicians and patrons, late seating is at the discretion of the Stage Manager and the House Manager, and takes place during pauses in the program. The volunteer ushers with Ushering In The Arts will let you know when you may enter the hall. They may seat you in an area other than your ticketed seat so as to not disturb other patrons, and you may take your ticketed seat during intermission.

What is your cell phone/photo/video policy?
Selfie No one likes the interruption of a ringing cell phone during a concert. And if your phone is blowing up in a dark hall, it looks like a strobe light, right? So we ask that you please silence your cell phones and refrain from talking or texting on them during performances. Put it away and enjoy the show. Flash photography is prohibited at all times since it’s so distracting to the performers. But while we ask that you please refrain from taking any photos or video during the concert, we definitely want you to have some fun and enjoy your night out: take your selfies and check in to the concert on social media. There might even be times that your phone is part of the show. (It’s happened and it’s amazing.)  If that’s the case, we’ll tell you in advance. Otherwise, please be courteous to your fellow concert-goers and don’t let your cell phone or camera become a distraction to others.

If you need to be reached during a performance (emergencies, etc.), please leave the following information with the House Manager located outside Atwood Concert Hall on the Orchestra Level of the Lorene Harrison Lobby: name, show name, row, and seat number.

Can I get a drink or snack at the concert?
The ACPA has refreshments available for purchase both before the concert and during intermission. The concession areas are on the Orchestra and Mezzanine levels of the Lorene Harrison Lobby outside Atwood Concert Hall and you can purchase beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages and assorted snacks.  Note due to Municipality of Anchorage code, you can only bring bottled water into the concert with you.  One more tip: you can pre-order your drink(s) and snacks for intermission. Before the concert begins, visit the lobby concession areas to place and pay for your order, and then when you come out for intermission you’ll see your refreshments ready, literally with your name on it.

How long is a typical concert?
Each program length varies, but a typical ASO concert lasts approximately two hours, including one 20 minute intermission.

How can I learn about the concert and music before I go?
Most importantly: There’s no need to study before the concert.  You can just come to the show and enjoy yourself! Again, we promise that you won’t be alone if that’s what you do. At the concert, you’ll learn a little bit about the music, composers, and maybe even the “story behind the music” from your concert program book. Randy often introduces the music and tells you helpful and entertaining information from the stage too.

But if you want to study up ahead of time we have multiple ways to help you:

  - Attend Words On Music, the free pre-concert talk with our Education Consultant Susan Wingrove-Reed. It begins one hour before the performance in the Orchestra level of Atwood Concert Hall and lasts about 30 minutes. You’ll still have a half hour before the show to get a drink, attend to personal business, or visit with friends. Oftentimes, Randy joins Susan and talks about why he programmed a particular piece of music on that concert or his own personal connection to the music. But you’ll always learn about what you should listen for during the performance, information about the composer, and historical events/issues that might have inspired or impacted the composition’s creation. Often, the soloist performing that date will join the talk for all or part, so you get to hear first-hand from the amazing artist you’re going to see later in the evening.

- Join Randy for Lunch & Learn, a free, lively noon-time discussion of the music for each of the Classic Concerts. This is a casual but very informative program, and it's a super way to get to know Randy and your ASO as he talks in depth about the music and just about anything you'd like to know about a concert before you arrive at Atwood Concert Hall. Lunch & Learn is held from 12 - 1 p.m. in the Moose Meeting Room of Anchorage Public Library's Loussac Library (2nd floor), the Friday before each Classic Concert. Bring your own lunch, and prepare to be entertained and informed. 

- On each of the concert overview pages on this website, we’ve included information to help you learn about the shows, including a brief overview of the concert and each piece of music to be performed, and a “Listen To Sample” button you can click to listen to a brief preview of the music. We've also included other events or programs that will help you get ready for the concert such as Randy's interviews with radio host Rick Goodfellow on the KLEF Preview Show on 98.1.FM the Thursday before each Classic Concert. 

What if I’m unable to attend the concert and I’ve already bought tickets?
ASO subscribers may exchange tickets free of charge — one of the many subscriber benefits! You may donate your tickets back to ASO so they can be resold, and receive a donation receipt; your ticket donation is tax deductible. Single-ticket buyers may also exchange tickets for another performance within the same ASO season by contacting CenterTix – call 263-ARTS or visit their box office at the ACPA. In addition to a small administrative fee, there is an additional cost if seating upgrades apply, and all exchange requests are subject to availability.

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Thank You

The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra is funded, in part, by the Atwood Foundation, Richard L and Diane M Block Foundation , Municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage Assembly, Alaska State Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts and through the generosity of many individuals and corporate community leaders.
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