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The Southeast Kansas Symphony Orchestra
Raul Munguia - Artistic Director & Conductor

The Concert Experience

Here are a few of the most common questions that are asked by our listeners:

Your First Concert

What Can I Expect?

Expect to have a great time!! If you have never attended a live concert, you may not realize just how much fun it can be! To experience a live performance is beyond Surround Sound. The music may be surprisingly familiar, and to hear it live, and watch the musicians as they smile, frown, concentrate, and get caught up in what they are doing, can be a lot of fun!

Will I Recognize the Music?

You will be surprised at how much of the music sounds familiar, and you may have even heard some of the individual pieces before. Many of the works performed in a concert have been used in movies directly, especially older classics, and much of what you hear on screen today is based on themes or styles of standard composers. Television commercials use brief clips of classic melodies, and if you've ever watched a Bugs Bunny cartoon, or the Smurfs, well, there you go.

Take Star Wars for example. John Williams is an accomplished modern day composer, but his writing style can at times sound very similar to the music of Stravinsky, Wagner, Richard Strauss, or Tschaikovsky. Can you remember the opening theme? The themes for Luke, Leia, or the "Storm Troopers"? What about the melody played to usher in the eeeveil Darth Vader?

What Should I Wear?

Many people wear business casual clothing. Our Sunday afternoon concerts let you go from church, to a meal, to the concert hall. Just remember two things: come in what makes you feel comfortable because the clothing doesn't allow you hear better - and, the performers are the only ones who really have to dress up!

When Do I Arrive?

It's a good idea to come about 30 minutes early. You can view lobby displays in Memorial, visit with friends, ask questions. Once seated, many people read through the program notes to get an idea of what they will hear, watch others coming in and watch the performers as they warm up.

When Do I Clap?

It's customary to hold your applause until all of the movements of a piece have been performed. This allows the audience and the performers to keep themes fresh in their mind, and prepair for changes into the next movement. When in doubt, it's ok to wait on others to clap.

One exception is for brief applause at the end of the first movement of a concerto, which usually features a solo passage by the artist close to the end of the movement. Movements are listed in the program.

Coughs, Cameras and Cell Phones,
Oh My!!

These are a way of life today, but we hope you will be able to simply turn them off and enjoy the music. Those around you are there to relax and enjoy as well, so please be kind. Besides, you can guess how hard it is to pull off a wicked oboe solo with a straight face and proper embouchure when you hear a cell phone start in on the Macarena...

What's There to Do at Intermission?

Lots! You may re-read the program notes on the pieces you've just heard, or check the notes on upcoming works. Talk to the other audience members, some of them may be new as well and have the very same questions you do. Or, they may be veterans, with lots of answers for you. Don't be shy, everyone is there to learn and have fun.

In many cases, the Memorial Hall lobby is filled with exhibits of all kinds. Check some of them out, they are usually very interesting and creative.

Can I Bring Children?

The short answer is yes, absolutely, the younger the better. After all, they are learning so much in their first years, and we would very much like to be part of it. Maybe they will be a future member of the Symphony, and here is where it starts!

Concerts can, however be a little bit too long to hold their attention. At about the age of six or seven, though, kids are beginning to show a real interest in the music. By this time they have heard quite a few of the classics in commercials, movies, video games, and they get really excited to hear and see it live. You know what they can handle, and are the best judge. When in doubt, please choose seats toward the back of the hall next to an aisle.

Our Young Person's Concerts are designed especially for children. We try to target various schools and age groups in order to expose as many children as possible to a live orchestra concert. We encourage children to get excited at these concerts and enjoy the enthusiastic reception we get!

What's that Beep?

If it's right before the concert starts, it's probably the hall bell. It's there to remind you that the concert is about to begin (or resume after intermission) and that you should find your seat before the house lights go down. Three beeps? Three minutes to curtain time. One beep means there's only one minute left. Hurry, you don't want to get caught!

Before the Next Concert

Check the program notes page for each concert, information is listed there as soon as possible, and is designed to give you basic information on each piece, along with links to biographical and historical background information.

Download the SEK Symphony Toolbar. This is similar to a Google toolbar, and comes with an online radio, streaming classical music from various online sources. It also provides links to our Symphony Blog, archives, and other resources on our web site.

Listen to a Public Radio Station, such as KRPS, offering the best in classical music, jazz and folk.

About the Orchestra

Four different families make up the modern day orchestra: Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, and Strings. Our Instruments page contains a number of links to each family and instrument.

~ Woodwinds ~

The PICCOLO is...


The FLUTE is...


The OBOE is...


The CLARINET is...


The BASS CLARINET is...


The BASSOON is...


~ Brass ~


The FRENCH HORN is...


The TRUMPET is...


The TROMBONE is...


The TUBA is...


~ Percussion ~

The GENERAL PERCUSSION is...


The TIMPANI is...


The PIANO ~ ORGAN is...


The HARP is...


~ Strings ~

The VIOLIN is...


The VIOLA is...


The VIOLONCELLO (literally: "big little viol" in Italian), or simply "cello", ...


So far, all of the string instruments have come from the violin family, but the DOUBLE BASS is a step-child of sorts and comes from the viol family. The strings are tuned in fourths, not fifths, and the construction is not the same as the other stringed instruments. The name comes from it's traditional role of 'doubling' the cello part an octave below.


Other instruments have strings, such as the harp or piano, but they are grouped into the percussion section.


~ Other Instruments ~

Right behind the provocative question "What is music?" comes: "What is a musical instrument?". Perhaps if you can answer one, you could answer both. Just about anything can be used to make music. Non-traditional in the modern day symphony orchestra, there are 'instruments' that many composers have written into to their music. Whistles, bells, milk pails, kazoos, brake drums, toy pianos, just about anything percussive or making a predictable sound can be used.

The performers themselves are sometimes asked to be an instruemnt. String players slap or strike the body of their instruments (very carefully and only after proper training) with their hands, and any player could use their voice to talk, sing, snort, whistle; or immitate a dog, cat, or bird. Nothing is off the table, because a composer is trying to tell a story!


For more information on musical instruments, see:

  • Wikipedia Orchestra
  • Instruments Online (Vienna Symphonic Library) - A fantastic site! Each instrument is featured in several ways: general description, history, notation/range, how sound is produced on the instrument, playing technique (even R/L hand if it applies), sound characteristics, sound combinations, and instrument repertoire.

Other Questions:

Here are a few other questions you may have:

How can I get there?

If you don't have a car, one creative way to get to our concerts is to get a friend to take you! Maybe you could buy them a ticket, pay for a snack before or after... be creative. You'll both have a great time!