Text by Joshua Banda | Photo by Banda Bros. Photography

The Sequoia Symphony Orchestra is celebrating 60 years of bringing classical music to Tulare County and has a lot to celebrate. Not only did it launch a summer jazz series, it also started a podcast (Backstage Pass with the Sequoia Symphony), performed at the hospital with Music Medicine, kicked off this year with a major film concert and have a limited number of tickets to every concert that cost what they did 60 years ago: $1.

The whole theme for the year, however, is that this is only the beginning and we’re just getting started. We care a lot about growing our audience and making sure that people who are newer to classical music and/or orchestra concerts have a great experience so they come back. We’re hoping that you join us for a concert soon, and we thought that it might be helpful to answer your questions about the Sequoia Symphony experience.

Where do you perform, exactly?

The Sequoia Symphony performs throughout the year at the Visalia Fox Theatre downtown and, this season, we expanded our footprint to include performances at Cellar Door and Kaweah Delta Medical Center.

What’s a good seat?

Truly, there really is no bad seat in the house. That said, the best locations are in the center, not too close to the front as that helps the sound blend a little better by the time it hits your ears (plus you can see more of the players when you’re not up by the stage), and the lower balcony, so you have better sight lines to see the entire orchestra from an aerial perspective. Lastly, if there’s a piano soloist performing, people like to sit more toward the left side so they can see the pianist’s hands as he plays.

What can I expect for price?

Prices range from $25-$50. Student tickets are only $10 all season long, and we do have a limited number of $1 tickets to each concert. You can also save big by bundling and getting “3 concerts for $99.”

What should I wear!?

More than anything, we want you to be comfortable, so dress in a way that works for you. Some people love dressing up and going out — if that’s you, do it and you won’t be the only one, we promise. If you prefer to be more casual, then you probably won’t be the only one either. In short, you do you, and we’re just glad that you’re joining us.

What if I don’t know anything about classical music?

We try to make concerts self-containing, meaning that at the performance itself, you will learn a little from your program book as well as from the maestro as he sometimes briefly introduces the pieces. If you want to get the best experience, we encourage you to attend the pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m. with the maestro. During the talk, he covers topics such as why he programmed the particular pieces on that concert, things you should listen for during the performance and information about the composer.

How long is a concert?

Concerts vary in length depending on how long each piece is in the program, but usually range from about 100-120 minutes.

When do I applaud?

This can be a controversial question, and here’s why: In the early days of classical music, the audience was rather rowdy — clapping, talking and even shouting during the performance. Then, at some point during the 20th century, this changed, and the social norm became to only applaud at the end of a piece and not between movements. The trouble is for people who don’t know this unwritten rule about when to applaud. At every concert, someone inevitably claps after the first movement and then feels weird because they’re the only one, or one of a few who somehow missed the secret memo. We decided that’s kind of awkward, and not even true to the origins of classical music, so our policy is that when you have an emotional reaction to the music and you want to express it, do so. If you love a movement and want to cheer for the performance you just heard, do it!

Do you hate phones?

No! What we don’t like are phones ringing or making other noises during the performance, or when your phone is blowing up so much that it practically looks like a strobe light. What we do like is people having fun and sharing that experience with others; take your selfies, share your stories and tag the symphony. Just make sure that your phone is on silent out of consideration for the performers.

So the next time you’re at a concert, post about it and tag us! Subscribe to the podcast and share content with your friends. Invite others to the concerts and take advantage of our Legacy, Student or 3 for 99 pricing.

After all, experiences like the ones we provide are best when shared with others.