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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Krannert Center Events: December 2021: Attending a Performance

About This Guide

The goal of this guide is to share the resources in MPAL that can help you to listen to and better understand the performing arts. In addition to the books listed on the side, you might find the following resources helpful in preparing for your trip to a performance.

Preparing for a Performance

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians has biographical listings for composers and also opera synopses.

The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music has information about the music and instruments of non-western societies.

The International Encyclopedia of Dance has information on famous dancers and dance productions.

The Cambridge Guide to Theatre has information on plays and playwrights.

You must either have a University of Illinois Net ID or use an on-campus computer to access these resources.

Conductor Benjamin Zander on Music

Acclaimed conductor Benjamin Zander talks about listening to classical music.

Performance Etiquette

The performance atmosphere comes with a special set of guidelines so that all in attendance may enjoy the production. Below is a set of reminders (and some explanations) of such procedures.

  1. Make sure to turn off all cell phones, pagers, beepers, and electronic devices. (You can read about a famous incident in which an audience member forgot to turn off his phone during a New York Philharmonic concert here.)
  2. Try to arrive early to a performance so that you can easily find your seat without climbing over people.
  3. If you arrive at a concert, play, or performance late, it is likely the usher will make you wait to enter so as not to disturb the other patrons. If there is no usher, it is best to wait until a pause in the performance (the end of a scene or movement).
  4. When attending a musical performance that contains pieces with multiple movements, it is customary to applaud only at the end of the last movement of a piece. 
  5. At plays and operas it is customary to applaud at the end of acts--usually signaled by dimmed lights. (If you are ever unsure of when to clap, respond with the others in the audience.) 

The guide to Accessibility Resources at Krannert Center may be helpful in planning your visit.

More tips on concert etiquette:

"Advice on Etiquette at the Orchestra" - Chicago Tribune article 

"Claptrap: When to Clap or Not to Clap at Concerts" - Chicago Tribune article