Concert FAQs

Orchestra Trivia

What was the largest symphony orchestra?
The largest symphony consisted of 6,452 musicians from Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and music students throughout British Columbia. They played Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Ode to Joy) and “O Canada,” in Vancouver’s BC-Place Stadium on May 15, 2000. The Quincy Symphony has about 70 musicians, which is much more typical.

What is the oldest symphony orchestra?
The oldest symphony orchestra is the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, Germany. It was established in 1743. The Quincy Symphony was established in 1947.

What is classical music?
You’ve certainly heard it before. Whether in movies, commercials, on TV, or on the radio, classical music is all around us. If you’ve never heard it performed live, though, you’ve never heard this music the way it’s supposed to be heard. While “classical music” is the word usually applied to symphonic music, the word “classical” actually refers to a specific time period and style in music history (1750-1820). The Quincy Symphony Orchestra plays music from this period, from the other great stylistic time periods, and often music written by modern-day composers.

What is a symphony?
In its simplest form, a symphony is an extended work for orchestra. A symphony orchestra is a collection of 60 to 100 musicians who play instruments of four basic types – strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion

How many movements are in a symphony?
Usually, there are four movements (sections) in a symphony, but there are some that consist of two, three, or five. Usually, the movements are in this order: fast, slow, dance-like, fast.

What is the longest symphony?
According to “Guinness Book of World Records,” the longest symphony, Victory at Sea by Richard Rodgers, is 13 hours long!

Concert Questions

This is my first time going to the Symphony. What can I expect?
There can be stuffiness associated with classical symphonic music, but remember that first and foremost the composers are musicians and most musicians are creative and like to have fun. We consider it our job to bring you the highest caliber of music, but we might also make you laugh. And we always reserve the right to throw in a few surprises!

How to Prepare? …or Not
Our web site lists all the music played at our concerts. Some folks enjoy listening to the music ahead of time, but it is not necessary for a great concert experience. If you wish to listen first, it is very easy to find music samples online or by checking out a CD at the library. Or simply read the “program notes” on the Concerts & Events tab of our website. They will also be printed in your free program booklet at the concert. Sit back and soak the music in. The music will speak for itself. Just come and enjoy!

Where are concerts held?
Concerts are held at several locations throughout Quincy, IL.  Click here for venue locations.

How much are tickets?
The Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association prides itself on offering the highest quality music at prices that are affordable. General admission tickets sold at the door for each concert are $18 for adults and $15 for seniors over age 62. Children 18 and younger are admitted free to all our concerts.

Additionally we offer season tickets that offer great savings over single-ticket sales. Season tickets offer admission to all concerts from October thru April.  Adult season tickets are $70 and senior season tickets are $60. In addition, we often offer a special deal in the early fall where new subscribers may buy one season ticket and get one free! Be sure to watch for that special!

What does a season ticket include?
QSOA season tickets include four concerts by the Quincy Symphony Orchestra, two concerts of the Quincy Symphony Chorus. Ticket reminders are also included for free concerts in our season, including our annual Young People’s Concert and concerts by our Youth Orchestra and Youth Chorus.

How can I buy tickets?
We begin our season ticket sales in mid-summer. Tickets may be purchased in person at the QSOA office, by mail, online, or by phone. Single tickets may also be purchased at Sturhahn Jewelers on Broadway St. in Quincy, and 24- hours a day at the Broadway and Harrison locations of Hy-Vee Food Stores. Also, the County Market Grocery stores in Quincy, IL and Canton, MO. Tickets may be paid for with cash or check at these locations.

Tickets are also available at the door beginning 1 hour prior to concerts. Credit cards are accepted at the QSOA office, online, and at the door on concert day. We use PayPal to process credit card purchases, but it is not necessary for you to register for a PayPal account to purchase tickets with a credit card.

Do ticket prices cover the cost of the Symphony’s expenses?
No, they do not. The Symphony must rely on both tickets sales and donated income from individuals, corporations, government entities and foundations in order to operate. Ticket revenue covers approximately $0.15 on the dollar while $0.85 on the dollar must be received in donations. Therefore, it is essential that the Symphony reach out to the community and continue its ongoing annual fundraising campaigns that include both individual and corporate support.

What happens if I can’t attend a performance?
Please do not let your tickets go unused. If you cannot attend a concert, you can donate them to a friend. Symphony tickets are wonderful gifts!

Do you provide discounted tickets to groups?
Groups of 10 or more are eligible for discounted tickets. Arrangements must be made in advance by calling the QSOA office at (217)222-2856.

When should I arrive?
Plan to arrive 20 – 30 minutes early so you will have time to park, purchase tickets if necessary, find a seat, and relax as you read the program notes and watch the musicians warming up on stage.

What happens if I arrive late?
In consideration of the comfort and listening pleasure of the audience, patrons who arrive after the concert begins must wait to be seated until an appropriate pause between pieces.

What is appropriate dress?
Quincy Symphony Orchestra and Chorus concerts provide a sophisticated musical experience, without sophisticated rules. Comfort is the key to enjoying your favorite symphonic and choral music. The younger people in attendance often dress casually while many of our more senior concert-goers dress up somewhat, which might mean a jacket for men and a dress or suit for women. We want your experience to be as fun as possible, so dress up or dress down…just be comfortable.

Where can I pick up a concert program?
We distribute free programs at the door. The program gives details on the music to be performed, guest artists, our orchestra & chorus, and other information to enhance your concert experience. The program is a souvenir with information about our future concerts. You are encouraged to take it home with you. We hope you will support the advertisers and sponsors listed in our program. Their support helps keep ticket prices affordable.

Will I recognize any of the music?
You might. Classical music is all around us: in commercials, movie soundtracks, television themes, cartoons, retail shops, and even some elevators! Popular music often quotes classical melodies, too. While you’re listening in the concert to a piece you think you’ve never heard before, a tune you’ve heard a hundred times may jump out at you. As you listen, you’ll notice that each classical piece uses its own group of several tunes over and over, in different ways. You’ll start to “recognize” these melodies as a work progresses.

How long will the concert be?
It varies, but most orchestra and chorus concerts are between 90 minutes and two hours in length, with an intermission at the halfway point. Refreshments are sometimes served at the intermission with proceeds going to a worthy cause. Youth Chorus and Youth Orchestra concerts tend to be about 1 hour in length.

May I bring my child?
We encourage you to bring your children to all concerts and back that up by offering free tickets for children age 18 and younger. Experience has taught us however, that children under the age of 6 or 7 may become uncomfortable during a full length concert. If you do bring children, make sure concert etiquette is part of the experience. Children love learning new things and will grow up to be better audience members if they are educated about what is expected at a live performance. We ask that all audience members–regardless of age–not talk, whisper, fidget or otherwise distract other audience members. It is a good idea to choose aisle seats near an exit door so you are able to slip out quietly if needed.

What are the house rules?
Cell phones, alarm watches and electronic pagers must be silenced completely before entering the concert hall. Acoustics of our performance venues are designed to carry the human voice. Please don’t talk or whisper as this can be very distracting to performers and concertgoers. Texting is also very distracting to other audience members. Smoking is not permitted inside the building. Food and beverages are not permitted in the auditorium.

During the concert, can I come and go as I please?
Unlike a rock concert or sporting event, where it is routine to enter or exit the arena or stadium seats at will, it is important in a concert setting to wait for an appropriate pause or applause before entering or exiting. Do not come and go during the music (unless you need to remove a noisy child).

What about coughing noises?
Coughing can be an unavoidable problem. If you feel a cold coming on, please bring lozenges with you, or feel free to take complimentary cough drops located in the main lobby. Please unwrap the cough drop ahead of time. Unwrapping a cough drop during the music makes more noise than you might think. Please take your wrapper with you when you leave the auditorium.

Applause: To clap or not to clap?
When to clap is cause of worry for many concert goers. At a classical music performance, it is customary not to applaud until a work is completely finished and the last note has died away. It’s easy to be fooled by breaks between movements (sections) in a longer work such as a symphony or suite; there may be a pause of several seconds as the conductor and players adjust their music and mentally prepare for the next movement. If in doubt, wait until the conductor puts his hands down and turns to face the audience.

It is also appropriate to applaud at the beginning of the concert when the Concertmaster (first chair violinist) enters the stage, and later when the conductor enters the stage

May I take pictures?
The use of still, video and digital cameras or audio recording equipment is strictly prohibited at all times in the concert hall. You are more than welcome to take photos and video in the lobby. Posting of pictures or video on the web is also prohibited. The privacy of our musicians must be considered and respected.

Is special access seating available for those patrons requiring wheelchairs or other special needs?
Our symphony concerts are generally held at Morrison Theater in Quincy Junior High. Wheelchair access is available from the west-side Morrison parking lot. Wheel chair access is not available to the balcony. All other concert venues also offer wheelchair access. Please call ahead if you need directions to the proper doors.

Do you have suggestions for area restaurants?
Many concert attendees combine our concerts with a special meal, however, experienced concert-goers know to eat and drink after the concert. Save eating at the buffet and slamming a Big Gulp for later. Eat and drink lightly beforehand and then go out and talk about the experience over a fine meal. We hope you will try one of the restaurants advertised in our program and let them know you saw their ad.

General Questions About Orchestras

Why are the musicians onstage playing before the concert begins?
Just like athletes practicing moves before the game, musicians need to warm up their muscles and focus their concentration. This is fun to listen to and to watch. Some of them are reviewing the difficult passages they will play during the performance. Not all of the orchestra players practice onstage, of course. Just like the audience, everyone is doing his or her own thing. Some are talking; others are paging through their music. And some don’t come onstage at all until a few minutes before the performance.

Why do the musicians wear formal black clothes?
This is a long tradition that started a few centuries ago. Sometimes, these days, musicians dress a little more casually. But they still try to look uniform, so that the audience can concentrate on the music. Soloists are the exception: they often dress differently, because they are the focus of attention.

Why is there only one tuba?
The composer specifies exactly how many of each wind instrument should be included in the performance.

Why are there more stringed instruments than anything else?

The sound of each individual stringed instrument is softer than a brass or a woodwind instrument. But in large numbers, they make a magnificent, rich sound. Composers do not specify a maximum number of strings.

Why do the string players move their bows together?
The players of each individual section—first violins, second violins, violas, cellos, and double basses—play in unison (the same notes as each other) most of the time…so all the cellos move together, for instance. As you listen, noticing the different bowings for each section will give you a visual clue to sort out the various melodies you’re hearing.

What does the concertmaster do?
The concertmaster sits in the first chair of the first violins. S/he acts as leader of that section, but also plays a leadership role with orchestra as a whole. S/he is also the last orchestra musician to enter the stage before a concert, and cues the oboe to “tune” the orchestra.

Why do all the musicians tune to the oboe?
The penetrating tone of the oboe is easy for all players to hear, and its ability to sustain pitch is very secure. The oboe plays the note “A,” and all the players make sure their “A” is exactly on the same pitch as the oboe’s. This ensures that they all are in agreement about the tuning before the concert starts.

Why do the string players share stands?
Fewer stands mean that the musicians, who are moving around quite a bit, have more room to play freely. Also, because the strings play more continuously than the other parts, their page turns can fall in inconvenient places where there should be no break in the music. Look closely and you’ll see that the player on the outside keeps playing, while the player on the inside briefly stops playing to turn the page.

Why does the conductor leave after every piece of music?
This provides the conductor a little breather–a chance to collect his or her thoughts before starting the next piece. If the applause is very enthusiastic, the conductor will come onstage again, bow, and perhaps recognize some musicians who played important solos in the piece. He may depart again once or twice before moving on to the next piece on the program

Questions about the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association

What is the QSOA?
Established in 1947, the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization consisting of the Quincy Symphony Orchestra, Quincy Symphony Chorus, Quincy Area Youth Orchestra, Quincy Area Youth Chorus, and Encore Symphony Volunteer Council.

Does the Symphony have a Board of Directors?
Yes, the QSOA has an active working board of directors which is comprised of various community advocates and business leaders. The board also includes a representative from Encore and from each performing organization.

What is Encore?
Encore! Symphony Volunteer Council supports QSOA through events such as Symphony of Trees and Bridge-A- Rama. Encore volunteers also provide support at concerts and in our offices.

How can I support the QSOA?
Your ticket purchase supports the QSOA and we thank you! But ticket sales cover less than 15% of our operating costs. To make a tax-deductible gift, contact our office at (217) 222-2856 or visit The QSOA also has an Endowment Fund, especially appropriate for estate gifts, bequests, and gifts in honor or memory of a loved one. Investment income from the endowment provides perpetual income to the QSOA.

What is the Quincy Symphony Chorus?
Quincy Symphony Chorus is a 60 member chorale lead by Dr. Phyllis Robertson. It was established in 1969. The Symphony Chorus rehearses on Monday evenings from 7:00-9:15 p.m. starting in August and continuing through April. Tryouts are scheduled with Dr. Robertson.

What is the Quincy Area Youth Orchestra?
The QAYO, under the direction of Richard M. Cangro, consists of talented junior and senior high students from all over the area. Auditions are held in late October. Students in grades seven through twelve may audition. Some students in grade six may be accepted by special audition. Students must have at least three years of playing experience. QAYO tuition is $60 for one student; need-based scholarships are available.

What is the Quincy Area Youth Chorus?
The Youth Chorus is subdivided into two groups: Kinderchor directed by Amy Fairchild and Concert Choir directed by Paul Shelor. The choirs include girls and boys with unchanged voices in grades 3-12. Auditions are held three times a year in May, August & December and can be arranged through the director. Tuition is $60; need-based scholarships are available.

How many musicians are there in the Quincy Symphony Orchestra and Chorus?
Orchestra: There are about 70 regular instrumental musicians. However, depending on the particular piece of music being performed, you may see more musicians on stage. You may also see fewer musicians if the particular piece of music calls for less than the full complement. Almost half our musicians have over 20 years of service. The Symphony Chorus includes about 60 regular members from all walks of life.

What is the age range of the musicians?
The ages of our musicians range from 16 to 80+. A few high school musicians are admitted each year through a special audition and scholarship program.

Where have the musicians received their training?
QSOA musicians have studied music all over the United States, and some even in different countries. Still others began their musical education in local area public school music programs. Our musicians’ education ranges from self-taught to the top universities and music schools in the United States. Our commitment to encouraging children to early music education is a key factor in presenting our annual Young People’s Concerts in the spring.

How many concerts do the Symphony and Chorus perform?
The Quincy Symphony Orchestra performs five concerts annually. These include four subscription concerts, and three performances of an annual Young People’s educational concert. The Symphony Chorus performs two concerts and sometimes joins the Symphony for major combined works.

How are the musicians selected?
Regular auditions for the orchestra are held each year in late August. Special auditions may be scheduled throughout the year for new residents. There are openings in all string sections. Wind, Brass, and Percussion players are welcome to audition for the substitute list. New members of the chorus audition with Dr. Robertson in August and throughout the year. Please call the Symphony office at (217) 222-2866 or email us at [email protected] if you are interested in an audition.

Are the musicians paid?
Section leaders receive a small honorarium. The majority of QSO musicians are volunteers from within the community. Instrumentalists traveling from out of town are partially reimbursed for mileage expense.

How can I place an ad in program?

Please call the symphony offices at (217) 222-2856. Our program ad sales begin in June and continue until our programs are printed in late summer. Program ads run for the entire Symphony season—October through April.

I would like to introduce my child to classical music. Any suggestions?
We encourage children to explore all kinds of music and consider learning an instrument. One of the best venues for introducing a child to good quality music is our annual Young People’s Concerts held every spring at Baldwin Auditorium. The concert is about 45 minutes long, and children experience music in a fun and lively way.

What if my question is not answered here?
If you have additional questions, please call the QSOA office at (217) 222-2856 or send an email to Jane Polett, General Manager at [email protected]. We would enjoy hearing from you!