If you are attending your first performance at Symphony Center, below are some frequently asked questions to help make your experience more enjoyable.


Where do I buy tickets for CSO and SCP events?

If you wish to purchase tickets to a CSO or Symphony Center concert, please do so through cso.org, the CSO’s Box Office at 220 S. Michigan Ave., or by calling 312-294-3000.

Please note that although you may be able to purchase tickets through ticket brokers, this is not recommended. Third party ticket vendors purchase tickets the same way that you can purchase them yourself, and then resell them at exorbitant mark ups. If there is a problem with your order (such as counterfeit tickets or lack of ticket arrival), and you purchased tickets from any site other than cso.org, the CSO cannot help you. Furthermore, in the event of time changes, cancellations, etc., the CSO will not be able to notify you. If you have questions about purchasing tickets please call the CSO at 312-294-3000.

When will 2018/19 single tickets be on sale?

June 1, 2018: Fall special events on sale
June 27, 2018: Empire Strikes Back on sale
June 1, 2018: Holiday special events on sale
August 10, 2018: All other events on sale

All events can be purchased now as subscription add-on tickets or as part of a CYO package.

When should I arrive?

We try our best to begin all concerts on time. With that in mind, you should give yourself enough time to comfortably reach your seats prior to the concert time, taking into consideration your parking needs and whether you will need to wait in line at Will Call to pick up your tickets. In general, we recommend arriving at Symphony Center 30 to 40 minutes prior to the concert start time.

What if I arrive late for my concert?

We try our best to begin all concerts on time. If you arrive late, you can listen to the concert over the monitors located throughout Symphony Center. There are also video monitors at the bars on floors 1, 5 and 6. Some concerts — but not all — may have designated pauses, in which late arrivals can be seated at the discretion of the ushers. We recommend that you wait close to your seating area's entrance so that we can seat you as soon as possible if there is a pause. If for any reason your ticketed seat may be too far away to reach during the brief pause, we will escort you to the nearest available seat so that you can hear the concert. Please note: Because not all concerts will have pauses or an intermission for late seating, we recommend that you call us at 312-294-3000 to verify the late seating policy for a particular concert.

What if I have to leave a concert early?

If you have to leave a concert before its end, please do so between program works. Please note: Because not all concerts will have additional pauses between works or an intermission, you may not be able to re-enter the hall after you depart.

How long is a typical performance?

Program length varies, but a typical Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance lasts about two hours, including one intermission. Most other events run about the same length, some a little shorter, some a little longer. You can always call us at 312-294-3000 for an estimated length.

Can I take pictures?

Patrons are welcome to use their smartphones to take photos of their visit to Symphony Center and share them on their social media networks. However, we strictly enforce a no photo / no video policy during the performance itself. Before the music starts, we ask that you put your smartphone away for the duration of the program. Smartphones, cameras and other recording devices can create major distractions for the performers and audience members around you. All camera and video equipment should be checked with the house manager prior to entering the auditorium.

Can I bring my children?

Symphony Center welcomes children eight years of age and older. Some concerts, including CSO Family Matinees and special kid-oriented programs, are open to children of all ages. Please call 312-294-3000 for a list of these special performances. All children, regardless of age, must have their own tickets for all performances.

Can I bring my cell phone?

Patrons carrying cell phones, wearing alarm watches and/or electronic paging systems are requested to turn them off before entering the concert hall. Please contact the house manager before entering the auditorium if emergency notification might be required.

How does the seat numbering work?

Odd-number seats are located on the left side of the Hall, and even-numbered seats are located on the right. For example, seat 101 is on the left and located next to 103; seat 2 is on the right and located next to seat 4. The balconies, Terrace and Gallery are numbered in this manner. The Main Floor is numbered in double digits (odd numbers on the left, even numbers on the right); the center is numbered in consecutive triple digits.

What is your Box Seating policy?

Box seating is on a first-come first-serve basis and is general admission. It has been the long standing tradition at Symphony Center to rotate seats within the boxes at intermission.

What is your Will Call policy?

If you purchased student web tickets or tickets for an event that is less than seven days away, we will automatically hold the tickets at the Box Office.

How can I donate my tickets if I can't attend my event?

Visit cso.org/donatetickets or call 312-294-3000.

Donation requests must be submitted no later than one hour before concert start time. If within one hour of start time, contact patron services for assistance at 312-294-3000. You will receive an email confirmation once your ticket donation has been processed, as well as a letter at the end of the calendar year detailing your ticket donations that can be used for tax purposes.

What should I wear?

At any given Symphony Center concert, you will observe some concertgoers dressed up and others dressed more casually. Many patrons wear business attire or casual business attire, but we invite you to wear whatever makes you feel most comfortable. After all, what matters most is your concert experience, not your concert attire! For the comfort of all patrons, however, we ask that you refrain from using strong perfumes and colognes.

When should I clap?

Many works, such as a Beethoven symphony or Mozart piano concerto, have separate movements or sections. A short pause usually falls in between each of them and, over time, it has become customary not to clap during these short pauses. With the world's greatest soloists featured at Symphony Center, however, this custom is sometimes impossible to adhere to!

What if I have to cough?

In an effort to help reduce distracting noises and enhance the concert-going experience, the Walgreen Corporation provides complimentary cough suppressant tablets to patrons attending all concerts. Cough drop dispensers, subject to availability, are located throughout Orchestra Hall.

Is Symphony Center accessible to patrons with special needs?

Symphony Center is accessible to all persons who have special needs. Large-print programs are available for all Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts. Additionally, we are pleased to offer a new Williams Hearing Assist System for patrons with hearing impairment. Please ask an usher for assistance. If you have any additional requests or questions, please call Patron Services at 312-294-3000.

Can I order tickets from an address outside of the United States?

Yes, tickets can be ordered from any country, but cannot be shipped. All tickets purchased from non-US addresses can either be delivered as a Print-at-Home ticket or held at the Symphony Center Box Office.

If you have difficulty ordering online, please call Patron Services toll-free at 1-800-223-7114 or use cso.org/contact.

Do you have a coat check?

Yes, there are multiple coatrooms located throughout Symphony Center. Inquire with an usher before your concert to locate the most convenient coatroom. We want to ensure that you have a comfortable concert experience and therefore encourage checking other large items that do not easily fit below your seat.

Backpacks, Oversize Bags and Parcels
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association requires that oversized bags be checked at one of our many Coat Checks conveniently located throughout Symphony Center. There is no charge to check these items. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association also reserves the right to search bags for security reasons.

What is your policy on bringing bags to Symphony Center?

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association requires that oversized bags be checked at one of our many Coat Checks conveniently located throughout Symphony Center. There is no charge to check these items. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association also reserves the right to search bags for security reasons.