Plan Your Night

We’re so glad to have you join us! If this is your very first time to the Symphony, or if you haven’t been in a while, we hope you find this information helpful. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to email us at [email protected] 

Where do you perform?

This season, the SLO Symphony Concerts in the Cohan series will be performed at:

Performing Arts Center
1 Grand Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 (map)

Please be aware that the PAC Plaza is under construction, but we do not expect any impact on your experience.

Other concerts and events may be held at various venues around the county – get on our email list and check our website to keep up to date!

What's the best place to sit?

The Performing Arts Center is an intimate enough venue that there really isn’t a bad seat in the house! Most seasoned concert-goers prefer to sit in the Dress Circle, one level above the main floor, as it gives a great view of all of the musicians. The Orchestra section is also popular. Because many of our season subscribers choose seats on the left side of the house, for when we have pianists performing, you can sometimes nab fantastic seats in the Orchestra Right section.

Where can I park?

There is a parking structure adjacent to the PAC. Spots are free, but they are first-come, first-serve, and fill up quickly – so be sure to arrive early!

Another reason to arrive early is to listen to the pre-show talk The Symphonic Forays to learn more about the music!

Additional parking options may be available. Please click here for the Cal Poly campus parking website.

For all parking questions, please email [email protected] or call the Cal Poly Ticket Office at 805-756-4849.

Can I enjoy food and beverages?

Yes! There are concession areas throughout the lobby at the PAC that sell light snacks and drinks, including beer and wine. Concessions will be sold prior to each concert and during intermission.

Be advised that the PAC’s policies regarding food are as follows:
“No outside food or beverages, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are permitted inside the venue. Beverages purchased from concessions are allowed in the theater unless otherwise specified.”

What is the appropriate dress?

Many people see a night out at the Symphony as an excuse to dress up a bit. For others, it’s a chance to relax, and a much more casual affair.

You won’t see your fellow concertgoers wearing a lot of tuxedos or flip flops, but you’ll see everything in between. Please dress in a way that makes you comfortable.

I don't know much about classical music. Where can I learn more about what I'm going to hear?

Symphonic Forays are a great place to learn more about the music that will be performed at each concert. SLO Symphony Music Director Andrew Sewell will be joined onstage by special guests one hour prior to the concert. They will talk about the music that will be performed. Learn about each piece’s history, its composer, why it was chosen to be performed, and special moments you should listen for during the concerts.

Your digital program will also include interesting and informative facts about each piece in that evening’s repertoire. Read the program notes before the concert to gain a deeper understanding of the music.

If research interests you, other ways to learn about the music are to read the program notes in your digital program, or even listen to recordings of the pieces ahead of time. However, it is not required – listen with an open mind and the music will speak for itself.


You may notice that before the concert, several musicians sit onstage and warm up by playing scales or portions of the piece they will be performing. Just like athletes warm up their bodies, musicians do, too! Some may do this backstage instead.

When it’s time to begin, the concertmaster will be the last musician to enter the stage. The concertmaster is the violinist who sits in the first chair of the first violins. She is the leader of that section, but she also plays a leadership role for the entire orchestra. She will cue the oboe to play an A so that the whole orchestra can tune before the music begins.

Once the tuning has completed, the conductor will enter and begin the music. You may notice that he sometimes walks offstage for a moment between pieces. This is a chance for him to take a breath and collect his thoughts about the next piece.

Am I allowed to clap between movements?

Yes! We believe that classical music should be enjoyable and accessible. The audience experience at orchestra concerts has evolved over time, and some of our guests refrain from applauding between movements. However, it is perfectly appropriate to do so! If the music touched you or impressed you, please feel free to let the conductor and musicians know by clapping.

Are concerts kid-friendly?

We love sharing music with listeners of all ages. However, the venue only allows children ages 5+ into the concerts.

For families with children of any age who want to enjoy a more casual atmosphere, please join us at our “No Ties Allowed” open dress rehearsal at the PAC at 11am on the morning of every concert!

I bought a ticket. Why do you still need donations?

The San Luis Obispo Symphony is a nonprofit organization. Ticket sales and tuition cover less than a third of our total program and concert expenses. We rely on the generosity of our donors to continue bringing powerful symphony concerts to the Central Coast, as well as to support our music education programs.

We hope that if you enjoy our concert, you will consider making a contribution. With your help, we can continue to provide these performances for many years to come.

First time? Here's a suggested timeline!

No Ties Allowed – for families with very young children, or anyone interested in a laid-back opportunity to hear classical music

10:30 arrive and Park
10:40 visit the Instrument Petting Zoo
11:00 watch the first half of the orchestra dress rehearsal
12:00 musicians take a break
(Feel free to use the restroom any time, take a break in the lobby to visit the instrument petting zoo, or leave early if your family needs require it.)
12:15 second half of the rehearsal
1:00pm No Ties ends

Concert – For everyone 5 and up!

5:30pm Arrive early to find good parking
5:45pm If needed, stop by Will Call to pick up your tickets
6:30pm Sit in the  audience to listen to Symphonic Forays, the pre-concert talk
7:00pm Head to the lobby to listen to the Youth Symphony 
7:15pm a good time to use the restroom or purchase snacks
7:20pm Ask a PAC usher to guide you to your seat
7:25pm Peruse the digital program via the QR code
7:30pm Concert Begins
Intermission (about 8:15)– come visit the SLOS staff in the lobby to make a donation, ask questions, and maybe even buy CDs from the guest artist
This is also a good time to use the restroom and get a snack.
Second Half (about 8:30)– Return to your seats to enjoy the second half of the concert
Concerts usually end around 9:00pm.