We recently attended the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and enjoyed it immensely.  This is one of the urban treasures that many people especially younger generations overlook – but the music and the concert hall are world class, as is the direction under Marin Alsop, the first woman to hold this position with a major American orchestra.  Well we’re here to help and make the symphony a little less scary for you younger generations.

~**Ezra’s Etiquette: The Symphony for Millenials**~ 

1.  If you need to let loose with a massive fart, first remove your monocle.

2. Tuxedos are for the musicians on stage ONLY.  Don’t show up looking like a penguin unless you’re also toting a bassoon.  Now, a tuxedo T SHIRT can be a great way to bridge the gap between your youthful attire and the traditional elegance of the symphony

3.  Make sure you take a program, even if you don’t intend to read it, the pages are a great place to stick your chewing gum mid performance.

4.  Alcohol at the symphony:  Please do not bring in your own alcohol, this isn’t like a rock concert or high school math class.  Treat yourself to a nice bottle or two of red wine at the intermission and remember, the price goes to a good cause!

5.  Prepare for the symphony beforehand! This sort of music can be a little daunting if you’ve never heard it before.  Look up the pieces being played in the evening’s performance and dust off the gramophone wax cylinders and give them a whirl!

6.  Set the mood!  Are you going to see a performance of classics like Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff? Spend the day with other elements of early 20th century Russia like strong black tea,  a tasty bowl of borscht or brutal oppression of the peasant class.

Looks like you’re ready for a thrilling evening at the symphony now!  As always questions and compliments can be addressed to Ezra on Twitter or Facebook.  Complaints and corrections should be addressed to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

  • Natan Ezra Lefkowits

    What a charmer.

  • Raoul

    I champion Mr. Winter’s interest in galvanizing support for this stellar Baltimore institution amongst a younger generation that for too long has ignored the artistically rich experience of attending a performance with a world-class orchestra (and as he rightly mentions, captained by one of the most talented female conductors in the world, no less). Unfortunately, these “etiquette tips”, frankly, are whack.

    1. “If you need to let loose with a massive fart, first remove your monocle.”

    No. Tip #1: Party. Party before, party after, and always party safe.

    2. “Tuxedos are for the musicians on stage ONLY. Don’t show up looking like a penguin unless you’re also toting a bassoon. Now, a tuxedo T SHIRT can be a great way to bridge the gap between your youthful attire and the traditional elegance of the symphony.”

    No. Tip #2 is you should wear a tuxedo to the symphony (if you want to and you have one). And if you are the sort of person who prefers evening gowns to tuxedos, all the better. Let us consider the opportunity by doing so: as is abundantly clear just going out anywhere in Baltimore, the erosion of style in evening dress is no longer confined to younger generations and has steadily crept its way into the stodgy suburban elderly set who largely populate the symphony in polo shirts and pastel slacks. This lack of aesthetic consideration is depressing and I would encourage you to consider the symphony an excellent opportunity to wear your most creative finery, however defined. I myself prefer a simple tuxedo paired with a bolo tie for a touch of panache. Such is taste.

    3. “Make sure you take a program, even if you don’t intend to read it, the pages are a great place to stick your chewing gum mid performance.”

    This is nearly as ridiculous and embarrassing advice as tip #1. Also, don’t chew gum at the symphony, it is rude.

    Tip #3- Read the program. And keep your eye on the horns and woodwinds, sometimes they make funny faces at each other because they don’t think anyone can see them sitting at the back.

    4. “Alcohol at the symphony: Please do not bring in your own alcohol, this isn’t like a rock concert or high school math class. Treat yourself to a nice bottle or two of red wine at the intermission and remember, the price goes to a good cause!”

    Here I will disagree with Mr. Winters, which may seem anachronistic, and in fact, for my tip #4 I would suggest you consider a discreet BYO-flask approach to your night at the BSO.

    I say this for two reasons. First, unless Mr. Winters knows something I do not, “nice” bottles of wine are not available at the BSO, nor for a reasonable price. If this were the case, I might feel differently. Also, the coffee is horrendous. But, despite being barely drinkable, sometimes it is necessary to get a caffeine boost when you hit intermission at Mahler #4.

    Tip #4: get a coffee and spike it with Pikesville from a hip flask so you can get the caffeine down and party on.

    5. “Prepare for the symphony beforehand! This sort of music can be a little daunting if you’ve never heard it before. Look up the pieces being played in the evening’s performance and dust off the gramophone wax cylinders and give them a whirl!”

    Tip #5- You don’t need to be a classical music buff to enjoy the music. Otherwise I will agree with Mr. Winters except that lamentably most young people probably don’t own an phonograph or gramophone (he mistakenly conflates the two).

    6. “Set the mood! Are you going to see a performance of classics like Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff? Spend the day with other elements of early 20th century Russia like strong black tea, a tasty bowl of borscht or brutal oppression of the peasant class.”

    I don’t know how one “spends the day with brutal oppression of the peasant class”, so I will assume he meant this metaphorically, like through a pre-symphony reading of What is to be done? Fair enough.

    Alternate Tip #6: Wait by the locker room after the show. The bassoonists always throw the best after-party.

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