Conductor Directing

Kenneth Freed, Music Director

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Symphony FAQ

I've never been to an orchestra concert before. What is it like?

We offer a number of different concert experiences. The Symphonic Series concerts have the full orchestra performing on the stage. Music on the Hill concerts are more intimate. Only a handful of musicians perform and they are seated closer to the audience and will talk directly to them and take questions during the performance. Our Family Series is an interactive program for little kids that features a different theme based on a classical composer each year, and Jazz at the Kato feels like a nightclub with dancing and cocktails.

All in all, attending the symphony isn't much different than attending a movie or play. You purchase a ticket or pick up your ticket if you ordered in advance, an usher helps you find a seat, and you sit back and enjoy the performance. Clap when the musicians and conductor first enter. The printed program will let you know what's going on. There is usually an intermission where you can stretch your legs, stop by the concession stand, and use the restroom.

What kind of music will I hear?

We perform many different kinds of music. Some concerts are strictly classical music and some are "pops" concerts with jazz or rock or other contemporary music.

Will any of the music be familiar? Do you have to study to understand it?

You might be surprised. Even if you don't listen to classical music, a lot of famous pieces will be familiar. You may have heard them in movies, commercials, cartoons, or used as ringtones. We also like to perform a lot of music that is less familiar. There's a lot of good music out there, and it's rare for anyone to have heard all of the pieces we perform before.

There's no need to study beforehand to have an enjoyable concert experience, but if you're the type of person that likes to know what you're getting into, YouTube and Spotify are great resources for finding recordings. Some music is instantly accessible, and some music takes multiple listens. Think of it like a movie. The second time you watch it, you're likely to notice things you missed the first time around.

We provide program notes you can read at our concerts, and our musicians and conductor are always happy to answer questions as well. We also post a lot of information on our Facebook  and Twitter leading up to the concert and there are excellent resources online where you can learn more. Spotify and Youtube are great ways to listen to the music in advance.

When should I arrive?

If you still need to buy tickets, please arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the performance. Parking takes time and sometimes the ticket lines can be rather long. If you've already ordered your tickets, try to arrive at least 15 minutes early.

What if I'm late and the concert has already started?

At the Symphonic Series and Music on the Hill, we'll ask you to wait in the lobby until a break between movements so that you don't disturb the musicians when you walk in. People can go in and out at any time at the Family Concert Series and Jazz at the Kato.

What should I wear?

People wear whatever they want to our concerts. Some people dress up, some people wear jeans. There's no right or wrong way to listen to good music!

How long will the concert be?

It varies from concert to concert. Symphonic Series performances are about an hour and a half to two hours long with intermission. Music on the Hill performances generally run about 90 minutes with intermission, and our Family Series lasts about 30-45 minutes. You are welcome to call our office at 625-8880 to get more information about a performance.

When should I clap?

Clap in between different pieces of music, but not between movements of the same piece. A lot of people are afraid they will clap in the wrong place, but the truth is no one will care if you do! Enthusiasm and excitement are a huge compliment to the players.

Can I bring my kids?

Sure! Kids are welcome at all of our performances. We even have a series that is specifically designed for kids. Our Family Series is free to attend and held at the YMCA in Mankato.  If your child likes listening to music, go ahead and bring them. If you're bringing a baby or toddler you can always request an aisle seat in case you need to leave in a hurry!

Child-Friendly Performances:


  • Family Series-this show is designed for young children and their families and features a different composer each season. It's perfectly OK if they roam around the room, sing along, or make noise.
  • Rockin' by the River-kids can run around, dance, play on the playground equipment at the park and be noisy.
  • Christmas Concert-kids will enjoy hearing some of their favorite Christmas music, and get a free candy cane just for coming, but they are expected to remain in their seats and not be noisy or distracting to the performers or audience.

Music on the Hill and Symphonic Series-you are the best judge of whether or not your child will enjoy the performance. We recommend Holly Mulcahy's excellent article on how to prepare your children for a concert.


I attended an orchestra concert once and hated it. Should I try again?

Absolutely! We have different concerts for different tastes. Not everybody likes the same thing. It's like if you went to the movies, didn't like what you saw, and never went back. Like films, music has different genres. Just because you didn't enjoy one doesn't mean you won't like any of them.

I have a disability. Are the venues accessible?

All of our venues are handicapped accessible. The Verizon Hall has wheelchair and companion seating avaible and our other venues have moveable seating so you can sit wherever you choose. If you need another accommodation such as large print programs or physical assistance, or would like to plan the logistics of your visit in advance, please call our office at 507-625-8880 or email

What if you can't make a show you already purchased tickets for?

We'll gladly exchange the tickets for another performance you are able to attend.


For performance cancellations please visit:,,, our social media channels, and this website. 


MSO Symphonic Box Office Number: 507-625-8880

Please note that we are not able to answer this number during events.