Whether it’s your first time at the Symphony, your first time in Asheville — or you’re just in need of some fresh ideas, the Asheville Symphony is here to help you enjoy your night out. Turn up the volume on your visit with some uniquely Asheville options, including one (or more) of our wonderful local business partners, or scroll to the end for some first-timer FAQs.

The first step in your orchestral excursion is knowing where you’re headed.

The Asheville Symphony performs at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium at the U.S. Cellular Center, 87 Haywood St. in downtown Asheville. For information on parking near the U.S. Cellular Center, click here.


Just a few blocks from the Symphony’s stage, follow the cobblestone pavement down Wall Street, and you’ll find The Market Place Restaurant. With a menu full of American farm-to-table cuisine, enjoy your meal in its cozy brick-walled interior or get some fresh air, dine and relax from the front patio. The restaurant opens for dinner daily at 5 p.m., and remains open until 9:30 p.m. on Sundays and 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Market Place Restaurant
20 Wall Street
Asheville, NC 28801


Looking for something sweet? Head to True Confections bakery in the historic and beautiful Grove Arcade, where you’re sure to find the homemade sugary treats that you desire. The coffee shop and bakery is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

True Confections
1 Page Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801


Looking for something different? Choose from hundreds of delicious eateries listed with the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association or pay a visit to for more fun things to do in Asheville!


Coming in from out of town? We highly recommend you stay the night and experience all that Asheville has to offer — before and after your trip to the Symphony.

Hotel Indigo
151 Haywood St.
Asheville, NC 28801
1 877 8 INDIGO (1 877 846 3446)
Renaissance Hotel
31 Woodfin St.
Asheville, NC 28801
Homewood Suites
88 Tunnel Road
Asheville, NC 28805


Click here for more Asheville-area hotels.


About Your First Concert

I’ve never been to an orchestra concert before. What should I expect?
Expect to have fun! Let go any preconceptions you may have about classical music or the concert experience. You’ll have a great time. Feel the rhythms, follow the tunes, and watch the musicians and conductor interact. Classical music ebbs and flows. Sometimes, it’s surging and powerful, booming with intensity — and, others, it’s delicate and ephemeral and everything in between.

What if I don’t know anything about classical music?
You don’t need to brush up on your Mozart to enjoy the concert. The music will speak for itself. While many frequent symphony-goers enjoy becoming familiar with the works before attending, it can be just as powerful to hear a composition for the first time live. You know yourself best: If research interests you, follow your curiosity. Otherwise, just listen with an open mind.

What should I wear?
There’s no dress code! Anything that makes you comfortable is fine. Most people attend the Asheville Symphony in business clothes or dressy-casual attire, but you’ll find people wearing everything from khakis to cocktail dresses. Some people enjoy dressing up and making a special night of it, and you can too.

The only thing we ask is to please go easy on the cologne and perfume. It can distract those seated near you and can even cause them to sneeze (which will then begin distracting you!).

Should I arrive early?
Definitely! Plan to arrive 20 minutes before the concert begins so that you have time to find your seat and settle in. That way, you’ll have a few extra moments to absorb the atmosphere, listen to the orchestra warm up, and take a look at your program book.

Rushing to your seat at the last minute make you tense and detract from your experience. These concerts start on time, so, if you’re late, you may end up listening from the lobby. (If you are late, an usher will allow you inside during a suitable pause in the program as to avoid disturbing other concertgoers.)

How long will the concert be?
It varies, though most concerts are between 90 minutes to two hours long, with an intermission in the middle. Take a look at your program for more details on each specific concert, as it may give you an idea of what length to expect.

When should I clap?
This is the number one most-asked question, and so many people are scared to get it wrong. The first clap comes at the beginning of the concert, welcoming the musicians and the concertmaster as they enter the stage. After the orchestra tunes up, the conductor (and possibly a soloist) will come on stage too, and the audience will once again clap to welcome them. Once the music starts, just listen and enjoy. There’s no need for clapping until the end of the piece.

That being said, there may be times when the music appears to end, but moves on after a few moments of silence. During these quiet periods, some audience members may mistakenly begin to applaud. In general, musicians and your fellow listeners prefer not to hear applause between movements in a single piece. But, if you’re one of these people, don’t worry! It’s an easy mistake — and you will be forgiven.

It’s generally a good idea to check the program beforehand and plan to clap only at the end of each work. If you lose track and can’t tell whether the piece is truly over, check the conductor’s motions for clues. When a piece is over, the conductor will relax — but, between movements, the conductor will keep his hands raised, and the musicians will remain focused on his movements. When in doubt, wait for the reactions of other audience members before joining in.

What if I need to cough or sneeze during the music?
Everyone has experienced the sudden urge to cough or sneeze — and it’s OK to let one go during the concert, if need be. However, we recommend you come into the auditorium prepared with these cough-calming tips:

1. Visit the water fountain in the lobby before the concert and at intermission

2. If you have a cold, take some cough medicine in advance — or bring lozenges in quiet-to-unwrap packaging. Have a few out and ready when the music begins.

3. Concentrate on the music and lose your thoughts in the notes. The more absorbed you are in what’s going on, the less likely you are to cough.

4. If you absolutely can’t restrain yourself, try to wait until the end of a movement — or “bury” your cough in a loud moment of music. If it’s impossible to stop, or you feel a coughing fit coming on, it’s perfectly acceptable to quietly exit the concert hall. Don’t be embarrassed to walk out mid-movement. Your fellow listeners will appreciate your courtesy.

What should I do with my cell phone during the concert?
Turn it off! The same goes for pagers, watch alarms and other noise-making devices. It’s a good idea to double-check your belongings and wearables before the concert begins (and again after intermission) to make sure they are all off.

Doctors and emergency workers who are “on call” during a concert can give their pagers to an usher, who will summon them quietly if they are paged.

Can I bring my camera or recording device?
Cameras, video recorders and tape recorders are not permitted in concerts. If you have one with you, check it in at the coat check before entering the auditorium. If you do have a camera with you and want a photographic souvenir of your special evening, ask someone to take your picture outside the concert hall before you go in.

What should I do during intermission?
Most intermissions are about 15-20 minutes long, which gives you time to socialize with your companions, get a drink or snack in the lobby, visit the facilities or simply sit in your seat and read the program notes. Do whatever puts you in a good frame of mind to hear the second half of the concert.

Can I bring my kids?
You can, but it may depend on the concert and the age of your kids. Most concerts are held at night and stretch beyond a normal bedtime — and many concerts may require an attention span that is difficult for children to maintain.

If they’re old enough to sit quietly for extended periods, take special care to tune into any impending noisiness — and plan to exit the auditorium with your child before any disruptions occur. Preteens and teenagers are welcome to attend concerts and may have a particularly good time at concerts that feature several different pieces.

If your children aren’t yet old enough for the real-deal, build their interest by playing classical music at home — or check the Symphony’s season schedule for upcoming kid-friendly events.

About the Orchestra

What is a symphony orchestra, exactly?
A symphony orchestra is a collection of up to about 100 musicians who play instruments of four basic types:

  1. Strings: violins, violas, cellos and doublebasses. These players sit in a semicircle directly in front of the conductor and make up more than half of the orchestra.
  2. Woodwinds: flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons and other related instruments. These players sit a few rows back from the conductor, in the center of the orchestra.
  3. Brass: trumpets, horns, trombones, tubas and other similar instruments. These instruments are the loudest, so you’ll see them at the back of the orchestra.
  4. Percussion: drums, bells and other assorted instruments. This includes the kettledrums, harp and, on occasion, the piano. Some works use a lot of different percussion and others may have only a single musician playing the kettledrums — or no percussion at all. The percussion section is found at the back.

Why do the musicians wear formal black clothes?
This is part of a long tradition from centuries back. 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 are there more stringed instruments than anything else?
The sound of each individual stringed instrument is softer than a brass or woodwind instrument. But, in large numbers, these instruments make a magnificent and rich sonority.

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

Why does the entire orchestra tune to the oboe?
The penetrating tone of the oboe is easy for all players to hear, and it has a unique ability to easily sustain pitch. The oboe plays an A for all the players to make sure their A is exactly on pitch with the oboe’s A. This ensures they are all in agreement about the tuning before the concert starts.

Why do the string players share stands?
Fewer stands mean that the musicians have more room to play — and are less likely to bump into anything while performing. Strings play more continuously than the other parts, and page turns can often fall in inconvenient places where there should be no break in the music. Often, 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?
These breaks allow the conductor to relax between pieces and collect his or her thoughts before beginning the next piece. If applause is very enthusiastic, the conductor might come back on stage to bow or recognize some musicians who played important solos in the piece.

Why don’t the musicians smile while they play?
Some of them do! But, in general, orchestral music requires deep concentration — and these musicians are “in the zone” while performing. After the music is over, you’ll find that many of them smile broadly.