First Timers Guide

If you have any questions, please call us at 455-1375, e-mail us at or, if you’ve already bought your tickets, come and see us at every concert in the Warner Theatre lobby. We love helping people share our passion for music.

The following are frequently asked questions about going to a performance designed to make your first trip to the Erie Phil a pleasant one!

What is Classical music?

The term “classical music” is really broad and can mean anything from a Bach Concerto to a Gershwin Rhapsody, anything from an Adams tone poem to a Schubert Symphony. Generally, classical music is played by a symphonic ensemble comprised of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion, or some combination thereof.

Do I need to know the music before I attend a performance?

You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to enjoy a fine meal and you don’t need to know the music on the program to have a meaningful concert experience. One of the great joys of going to an Erie Phil concert is being introduced to a great piece of music you’ve never heard before, or listening to a superb performance of a piece you haven’t heard in years. Many audience members find it enhances their enjoyment of the music if they take the time before the performance to read the notes in the program about the composer and the pieces that are to be played.

Why not come along to our Classics in the Evening with WQLN’s Wally Faas, designed to enhance your concertgoing experience. Wally’s discussions are held at 7:15 PM in the National City Community Room, adjacent to the Warner lobby, prior to symphonic concerts.

Will I recognize any music?

Odds are you’ll recognize far more than you realize. Many of today’s popular songs, television shows and movies include or are taken from classical themes…like the Lone Ranger theme (Rossini’s William Tell Overture), the Bugs Bunny cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” (Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries), United Airlines commercials (Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue), and many more.

What should I wear?

Wear whatever makes you comfortable. Contrary to what many people think, formal attire, like tuxedos and evening gowns, is not required. You’ll see concertgoers in suits, vests, sweaters, skirts, khakis, and slacks.

When should I clap?

Generally, it is considered proper concert etiquette to clap only after a piece is complete. This means that, for example, if you’re listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, which has four movements, it is appropriate to clap after the last movement. You can look at your program book to find out how many movements a piece has. Usually, there is a 15- to 30-second pause in between movements. If all else fails, you can always wait for the rest of the audience to clap before applauding. Another good sign is when the conductor either turns around or steps off the podium (the elevated “box” he or she stands on).

Isn’t any noise during a performance typically frowned upon?

We love to hear the lobby “buzz” before and after the concert. So, please limit your conversations to before or after the music. Anything that makes unwanted noise, such as cell phones, pagers, wristwatches, or crinkly candy wrappers, should be turned off or left at home.

What if I arrive late or have to leave early?

Try to do so as quietly as possibly. We recommend you arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the curtain time to allow adequate time for seating. If you arrive late, you will be seated during the applause between pieces on the program.

How long will the concert last?

Erie Phil concerts generally run two hours, including a 20-minute intermission.

Is the concert accessible to persons with disabilities?

The Warner Theatre is accessible by all main entrances for persons with disabilities. During a performance, patrons in wheelchairs are seated in the aisle on the French Street side of the theatre. Guests who remain in their wheelchair are admitted free of charge.

Who can I contact with questions or concerns?

See the staff at the Erie Phil table in the Warner lobby or call us during regular business hours at 455-1375.

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