New to the HPO?  Not familiar with orchestral concerts? No problem!  Here are some commonly asked questions that should help make your experience at the HPO a great one.  If you still have questions about your night at the HPO, give us a call at 905-526-7756 or email hhollis@hpo.org and we’d be happy to help you.

What should I wear?

Many people consider their night out at the symphony a special one.  Some people dress up in a suit and tie or dress while others prefer to dress more casually.  You should wear anything that makes you feel comfortable.  Formal attire is usually reserved for the HPO’s annual gala. 

How early should I arrive?

If you’re picking up tickets, please arrive at least half an hour before the performance starts. Arriving at that time gives you enough time to check your coat, find your seat and enjoy some of the program notes before the concert begins.

If you want more detailed information on what you’ll be hearing that night, be sure to join us for Inside the Music: Pre-Concert Talk series which begins at 6:30pm for many of the concerts.


Where do I park?

FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) is well served by public transit with buses on both Main and King streets. Parking is available in the underground that is accessible by Summers Lane and off King Street near the Art Gallery.


Where do I pick up my tickets?

Tickets can be picked up at the FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) box office, located just inside the main doors to the hall off of Summers Lane.

What happens if I’m late?

If you’re late for a concert, don’t worry. The ushers will seat you at an appropriate break in the concert, usually in between pieces.

What if I can’t make it to the concert?

Ticket exchanges may be made by calling the box office at 905.526.7756 up to 48 hours before the concert you are not attending. Alternatively, you may donate your tickets for a charitable tax receipt.  There are no refunds on tickets purchased.

When should I clap?

There are two reasons to applaud at an HPO concert: as a greeting, and to show appreciation.  You applaud to greet the Concertmaster when he or she comes onstage (our Concertmaster Stephen Sitarski is the violinist who sits in the first chair of the first row of the Orchestra). You applaud again a few moments later when the Conductor comes onstage.  Any soloists who will be performing will usually come onstage with the Conductor; you applaud to greet the soloist or soloists as well. You do not applaud again until the end of each piece of music, to show your appreciation to the performers.

Some longer pieces may have several sections, or movements, separated by a brief, silent pause. The audience does not applaud between movements of a piece. The program will list the movements in each piece, so you will know how many there are; applause is usually reserved for the end of the last movement.  If you’re not sure that it’s over just follow the rest of the audience or wait until the conductor turns around to bow.


What is your cell phone policy?

Please turn off cell phones, pagers, or anything that beeps before entering the auditorium as they are a distraction to the performers and other patrons.

Can I wear perfume or cologne?

We share the air, so please be considerate of those in the audience who may have allergies or other sensitivities.

Am I allowed to bring my camera?

Yes, but photography is only permitted in the lobby area and not inside the theatre. Video-audio recording is strictly prohibited in the theatre.

Is there food available and where can I eat it?

Light snacks and drinks are available at the bars in the lobby before the concert and at intermission, but food and drinks other than bottled water are not permitted in the theatre. You can also pre-order your intermission drinks before the show to avoid waiting in line at intermission.

Do you offer any special discounts?

We offer a discount on all seniors’ tickets. If you’re 35 and under  you can join the hpoGO program to receive discounted tickets.  Subscribers can save up to 26%, and a variety of packages are available. Click here for details.

Can I bring my young children to the concert?

Exposing your child to orchestral music at a young age is a great way to foster an appreciation and interest in the arts.  Children aged 5 and older are welcome at any mainstage concert at FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) with a ticket purchase.  As with any patrons, ushers will ask parents to take disruptive children out of the auditorium.  We regret that we cannot allow children under 5 years of age into any HPO concerts at FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place). 

How do I know if a concert is cancelled due to inclement weather?

We very rarely cancel a concert due to snow or bad weather. If a concert is cancelled, we will update the website for patrons as well as via email and through our social media channels. We also will notify television and radio stations of any cancellation.

Patrons unable or unwilling to attend a concert as a result of inclement weather can exchange their tickets for another concerts date provided they contact the HPO Box Office by phone 905.526.7756 or email hhollis@hpo.org before noon the day of the concert. HPO subscribers can exchange all tickets throughout the season at no additional cost. Patrons who are not subscribers can exchange tickets for a small fee.

All exchanged tickets are subject to availability and to additional costs associated with an upgraded seat section. Tickets may not be exchanged once a concert has passed. Please destroy outdated tickets.