- First-Timer’s Guide to the Colorado Symphony
First-Timer’s Guide to the Colorado Symphony
This guide is here to help you learn about the Colorado Symphony experience, the performance, and the music, with frequently asked questions specifically for Symphony newcomers.
If you have other questions, please contact the box office.
About the Experience
- Arrive downtown early! We recommend arriving at least 1-hour before your concert start time, when doors and lobby bars open. The earlier you arrive, the less likely you’ll run into traffic or lines entering Boettcher Concert Hall. Consider even getting a meal or drink before your performance. There are a variety of restaurants and bars within walking distance of the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
- Attend the Prelude & Talkback at Classics concerts.
- Visit the Gift Shop and grab some symphony gear or a gift for someone special.
- Browse and read Soundings, the magazine of the Colorado Symphony, which includes program notes, artist bios, and more.
- Explore Boettcher Concert Hall! There are numerous nooks and crannies to explore with artwork new and old. We invite you to look around.
- Relax and enjoy the performance!
- The name of the game is comfort. First and foremost, we want you to enjoy the music!
- Most concert-goers wear business or cocktail attire, but you’ll see everything from jeans and t-shirts to suits and ties.
Parking can be a challenge depending on other events taking place in the Denver Performing Arts Complex and Convention Center. If you plan to drive and park downtown please arrive at least 1-hour before the start time of your performance.
We highly recommend alternate forms of transportation, like taking public transportation, ride share, or walking if possible.
- Doors open 1-hour before each performance.
- Plan to arrive early in order to find adequate parking if necessary.
- Prelude discussions take place in Boettcher Concert Hall 1-hour before each Classics performance and help give an overview of the program.
- Food and beverages are available in our lobby before the performance in addition to coat check and restrooms.
- If you plan to drive and park downtown please arrive at least 1-hour before the start time of your performance. Parking can be a challenge depending on other events taking place in the Denver Performing Arts Complex and Convention Center.
- Apps like Parkopedia and ParkWhiz can assist with finding nearby parking.
- We highly recommend alternate forms of transportation.
You are welcome to bring drinks purchased at one of the bars into all concerts. Food is not allowed in the Hall, including food purchased in the Lobby. Please be courteous to your fellow concertgoers while consuming your beverages so as not to disrupt the concert.
For a complete list of permitted and prohibited items at Boettcher Concert Hall, please visit the Arts Complex website.
- Treat your concert experience like a movie theater – silence your phones and please no talking or texting during the performance.
- During Classics concerts, if the conductor is on the podium, we ask that you please refrain from taking any photos or videos.
- During any other concert series you may take cell phone pictures (without a flash) and may record short videos with your phone.
- As you enter Boettcher Concert Hall there is a large bathroom in the main lobby across from the Box Office. This includes a women’s and men’s bathroom and both are wheelchair accessible.
- On the South end of the building there are alternating restrooms on each level. Women’s bathrooms are located on Floors 1 and 3. Men’s bathrooms are located on Floors 2 and 4.
- Subscriptions are packages of concerts, ranging from 4 concerts to 16 and start at just $60.
- You can choose a pre-set package of concerts or mix-and-match concerts to make your own custom package. Check out the Flex Pass for details on the most flexible package option.
- Subscribers save 15-40% on concerts (depending on the subscription package), receive free ticket exchanges, access the best seats before they go on sale to the general public, and more.
About the Performance
- Performances typically last about 2 hours, including one 20-minute intermission
- Family concerts are about 90 minutes long, with no intermission
- Boettcher Concert Hall was the first performing arts hall in the United States built in the round, giving the unique opportunity to view the concert from all sides.
- Everyone has different priorities for their concert experience. Do you prefer a close-up of the violins? A wide perspective on the whole orchestra? A totally unique viewing experience? Our box office staff can help you choose the best seats for your preferences.
- Sections are divided into different price levels. You can view the seating map and price levels on each performance’s web page.
- Base ticket price for most concerts start at $15, $33, $60.50, $78, and $98.*
- Family concerts are $10 for children and $27 for adults.*
- Pricing for the Spotlight series and certain special artists will have higher priced tickets that vary by concert.
- Ticket prices may increase, based on demand, as the concert date approaches. By purchasing early, you will get the best price and the best seat selection.
*Service fees and seat tax apply to all ticket purchases.
- Sign up for eNotes — the Colorado Symphony weekly newsletter for first access to featured events and special discounts and promotions.
- Save on ticket prices by becoming a subscriber or bringing a group.
- Ticket discounts are available for children, students, teachers, and military personnel.
- No! One of the most exciting parts of the concert experience is hearing something you’ve never heard before.
- While some concertgoers will be familiar with the pieces, many people in the audience will be unfamiliar with what’s being performed. You never know what you might end up loving!
- Program Notes are available online the week of each concert. You can read this before the performance to learn more about the composers and their pieces being performed, as well our musicians and guest soloists!
- If you’re interested in hearing the music before you attend a performance, streaming platforms and YouTube are a great place to start.
- The first violin, called the Concertmaster, is the last musician on stage. They will stand and indicate that it’s time for the orchestra to tune. Once the orchestra has tuned, the conductor will come on stage and begin the performance.
- For pieces with multiple movements, clapping is typically only done after the final movement of the piece. The conductor will signal the end of the final note with their baton or hand and often bow to the orchestra.
- During pieces with multiple movements, there is a short, silent pause between each movement. Your program will list the number of movements in each piece (if any).
- At the end of the performance, there will occasionally be an additional piece called an encore performed by the orchestra.
If you’ve never attended a Symphony performance, figuring out which concert to attend can be overwhelming. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Alternative and/or Movie at the Symphony categories are excellent introductions to symphonic music. You’ve likely heard of the movies we screen, like Home Alone and Harry Potter, or special artists like Nathaniel Rateliff and RZA.
- The Colorado Symphony performs numerous types of musical styles and genres. Browse the next question about what kinds of music we play for info on each category.
- Contact the Box Office and an Associate will be happy to help you decide!
If you’ve attended one or more Symphony performances and enjoyed your experience, consider the following:
- Look for performances featuring:
- The same composer
- The same style of music
- The same solo instrument
- The same conductor
- Read the program descriptions on other event pages on our website.
- Make a playlist of your favorites and look for those in upcoming performances.
The Colorado Symphony takes pride in performing music from a wide variety of musical styles, genres, and composers. Read through each different series below and click the titles to view concerts in each category.
- Classics: Classics performances are what you might typically think on when you hear the word “symphony.” These include works by some of the biggest names including Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and more. Classics pieces can also be written by more modern or living composers.
- Movies: Movie concerts are performed live alongside a screening of the film. This might include movies like Harry Potter, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or Frozen.
- Alternative: Alternative concerts include many of our non-traditional orchestral concerts. This features everything from tribute performances to our new Imagination Artist Series. These are great gateways to a symphony experience.
- Spotlight: Spotlight performances features some of the biggest names in the performing arts, including Itzhak Perlman, Bernadette Peters, and Joshua Bell in the 2022/23 Season.
- Family: Family concerts offer programming specifically catered towards families and children.
- There are over 80 full-time musicians who play in four sections: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The instruments featured in each section include:
- Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass
- Woodwinds: Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, English horn
- Brass: Trumpet, Trombone, French horn, Tuba
- Percussion: Timpani, Harp, Xylophone
- Peter Oundjian is the Principal Conductor, Christopher Dragon is the Resident Conductor, and Marin Alsop is the Conductor Laureate for the Colorado Symphony. The conductor helps keep the rhythm and lead the orchestra through their interpretation of the music.
- A number of performances are led by guest conductors, who visit for a period and collaborate with the orchestra to bring in their unique musical perspective.
- Most concerts feature guest soloists who perform accompanied by the orchestra.
- Symphony: a large-scale musical composition, usually with three or four movements.
- Orchestra: a group of musicians with a variety of instruments, usually including strings.
- Symphony Orchestra: (often just called a “symphony” for short) is an orchestra that has both the number of players and the types of instruments required to play a symphony.
- Philharmonic: means “music-loving” and is often used to differentiate between two orchestras in the same city.
- Symphony: an elaborate musical composition for full orchestra, typically in four movements.
- Concerto: a musical composition for a solo instrument(s) accompanied by an orchestra.
- Prelude: an introductory piece of music, most commonly an orchestral opening to an act of an opera or the first movement of a suite.
- Overture: an orchestral piece at the beginning of an opera, suite, play, oratorio, or other extended piece.
- Suite: a set of instrumental compositions, originally in dance style, to be played in succession.
- MVT: Movement. Movements are like individual songs on an album that contribute to the whole record. Think of them also like chapters in a book. A composer uses movements to organize and contrast the themes and ideas in a longer piece of music. MVT identifies which movement of the piece is being performed, especially if not all of the piece’s movements will be played. The movement number is identified using Roman Numerals.
- Op: Opus. A separate composition or set of compositions by a particular composer, usually ordered by date of the publication.
- BVW: Bach Werke Verzeichnis, or Bach Works Catalog. Indicates the catalog number of Bach’s pieces.
- K: Kochel Verzeichnis. Indicates the catalog number of Mozart’s pieces.
- RV: Ryom-Verzeichnis. Indicates the catalog number of Vivaldi’s pieces.
- The key and instrument on which the piece is performed are also indicated in the title.
Browse Our Events
Now that you’ve gotten more familiar with the Colorado Symphony experience, join us for a show! Browse our full listing of events and give us a call with any questions: (303) 623-7876. We look forward to seeing you soon at Boettcher Concert Hall.