History of Clapping

One of the first things many of us learn to do as babies is clap. As we age, we learn that clapping is an acceptable way to show appreciation and happiness. We clap at a sporting event when our team scores. We clap at a political rally when a speaker makes a point we appreciate. We clap at a popular music concert when our favorite artist plays a great song. But sometimes it can be confusing as to when clapping is appropriate.

History of Clapping

For instance, does one clap when Hamlet finishes his soliloquy in a modern Shakespearean performance? And at what point should one clap at the symphony? And where is the line between a small, polite clap and a roaring applause complete with hoots and hollers? Here at Carmel Symphony Orchestra (CSO), we understand these can be difficult distinctions and the worry of doing the wrong thing might deter our audience members from fully enjoying their experience. Today we’d like to take a moment to explore the history of applause, and help you better understand how and when to clap at one of our performances.

The exact beginning of applause is a little uncertain, but we know it was first documented in the third century B.C., with the works of Roman playwright Plautus ending with the word plaudite, a directive for the audience to applaud or clap. A performer would announce to the audience at the end that it was time to applaud. Applauding consisted of hand clapping and finger snapping.As time passed, the practice followed into politics. In first century A.D. and beyond, audience members would clap for politicians speaking in the theater. These politicians would gauge their popularity based on how much applause they and their opponent received.

Over time applause evolved from sedate hand clapping and finger snapping to include stomping, trilling, and chants of praise. It was not uncommon for a performer during Roman times to employ the service of a claque, a group of paid audience members who would cheer and clap, to motivate the rest of the audience to applaud. Think of the modern-day sitcom laugh track. These people would manipulate the general audience by their paid reactions. This practice went on to become a standard in French theater and opera in the seventeenth and eighteen centuries.

Later in the eighteenth century, artists such as Mozart expected people to be loud at his performances. Not only was applause and cheering encouraged and appreciated, but concerts were seen as a social gathering. Friends would chat and even eat while an artist performed. However, these performances were more intimate and often commissioned by the host as entertainment for their dinner party.

Over the next hundred years, orchestral concerts became more of what they are today, larger gatherings of the general public. With more people and louder sounds, some artists became frustrated and distracted by the cheers and applause. Others demanded no applause during performances as a way to discourage claques. Now that the masses were able to attend performances, the social elite began to stay quiet and reserved as a way to distinguish themselves from the lower classes in attendance.

When is clapping appropriate?

This reserved attitude became the standard for orchestral performances from that point into modern times. However, we at Carmel Symphony Orchestra believe music is a thing to be felt, loved, and enjoyed. A trip to the symphony does not need to be a stuffy experience. Just as you are no longer expected to wear frock coats or corsets (though, if that’s what makes you feel comfortable we have no problem with it!), you no longer should feel the need to stifle your appreciation. Let’s take a cue from the Romans. If you feel moved by the music, let us know!

Cheers, clapping, finger snapping, whatever you’d like! We encourage you to enjoy yourself and feel comfortable when you are at a Carmel Symphony Orchestra performance.

Want to know more before you head to a concert with the CSO? Explore our Symphony 101 blog.

Will We See You at Meet the Music?

Meet the Music with Us This Season

Did you know Wagner’s Die Meistersinger opera revolves around a singing contest? Or that Composer George Enescu was a child prodigy and began to compose at the age of 5?

Join fellow music enthusiasts in the Robert Adam Room for Meet the Music one hour prior to the start of our October 13, November 10, February 9, March 9 and April 27 concerts to go behind the scenes of each concert’s programming. Throughout the season, speakers will range from conductor Janna Hymes and guest artists, to orchestra musicians and Carmel Symphony staff.

Enjoy program insights, interesting commentary on the evening’s featured composers, stories behind the individual music selections and fascinating perspectives from guest artists will be included.

An interactive and fun way to learn more about the concert you are about to hear, we hope to see you for Meet the Music this season!


When: 6:30 p.m.

Where: Robert Adam Room

Have questions about the 2018-2019 season or our education and outreach programs? We’d love to hear from you. Let’s chat.

Curious what to wear or when to clap? Visit our Symphony 101 page and learn all you need to know to fully enjoy a Carmel Symphony Orchestra concert.

Listen to our full season playlist via Spotify. http://bit.ly/2018-19Playlist

Carmel Symphony Orchestra Announces 2018 Young Artist Competition Winner – Violinist Maya Kilburn

Clay Township Presents Side-by-Side Concert Featuring Carmel High School Symphony Orchestra and 2018 Young Artist Competition Winner – Violinist Maya Kilburn

Fifteen-year-old violinist Maya Kilburn will be the featured guest artist with the Carmel Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on Sunday, November 18 during the innaugural Clay Township Presents Side-by-Side Concert at the Palladium. Kilburn is from Muncie, Indiana and took first place honors in the CSO’s 38th Young Artists Competition. The concert also includes the Carmel High School Symphony Orchestra, who will open the performance with Stravinsky’s “The Inferno Dance.” The group will also perform three movements of Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” with the CSO.

“Honestly, I was pretty surprised when I was announced as first prize,” says Kilburn. “I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m playing my dream piece with the orchestra. I hope that I can make the performance so special that the audience connects to the music right away and loves the piece just as much as I do.” Kilburn also receives a scholarship award of $1000, made possible by the generous sponsorship from the Meridian Music. She will be performing Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D Major.”

Kilburn, who has played violin since age four, currently studies under Mimi Zweig at Indiana University Jacobs School String Academy, after first working with Anna Vayman and Chin Mi Kim. The daughter of a pianist and singer, she knew from the beginning that music would always be a big part of her life, and plans to have a career as a professional violin soloist and would love to study at The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute of Music or one of the great music conservatories.

She has won numerous competitions, including the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra’s National “Rising Star” Competition, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Young Artist Solo Concerto Competition – Junior Division, the Muncie Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition and the New World Youth Orchestra Young Artist Competition. Additionally, she was a second prize winner in the Louisville Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Concerto Competition, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Michael Ben and Illene Komisarow Maurer Young Musicians Contest, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Young Artist Solo Concerto Competition – Senior Division, a third prize winner in the MTNA Junior Strings Competition and a semi-finalist in the 2018 Johansen International Violin Competition. As a result, she has had many opportunities to perform as a soloist and tour the United States, Central American and Japan.

Kilburn has performed in master classes and lessons for internationally renowned violinists such as Pamela Frank, Vadim Gluzman, Noah Bendix-Balgley, Jinjoo Cho, Henryk Kowalski and Sarah Kapustin. She has been featured on both radio and television broadcasts, and performed with artists David Chan, Atar Arad and Joseph Swenson.  In 2017 and 2018, she was a featured guest at the Universidad National de Costa Rica and the La Castella Arts School in San Jose, Costa Rica, where she performed recitals and taught masterclasses.

“Maya brings a skilled presence to the stage and performs with a mature sound well beyond her years,” says Kimberly Dimond, executive director of the Carmel Symphony Orchestra. “We are proud to be part of her professional journey and can’t wait to see what lies ahead for Maya in the future.”

Purchase concert tickets online here or by calling the Center’s Box Office at 317.843.3800. Discounts for students are also available: the $5 YouthPASS for High School and younger, and the $10 CollegePASS for College students.

Symphony 101: What You Need to Know to Enjoy the CSO

It’s only classical music, don’t be scared! Attending a classical music performance can be intimidating if you are unsure what to expect. Everyone is welcome at our concerts, no matter how familiar you are with classical music, and we want you to feel comfortable and enjoy yourself. This is the time to let go of any preconceptions you may have about classical music or the concert experience.


There is no official dress code, but you’ll see guests wearing everything from jeans to cocktail dresses. Most guests opt for business attire or business casual. Some people enjoy dressing up and making a special night of it, others prefer to dress more laid back. Generally, the only tuxes you’ll see are on stage. Anything that makes you feel comfortable is appropriate. (The hosts of “What Not to Wear” will NOT be attending any performances!)


When to applaud at a symphony concert is the number-one scary question. So much so it keeps potential audience members from attending a concert and they miss out on a wonderful experience. No one wants to clap in the “wrong” place.

At a classical music evening Barack Obama once hosted at the White House, he prefaced it by saying, “Now, if any of you in the audience are newcomers to classical music, and aren’t sure when to applaud, don’t be nervous. Apparently, President Kennedy had the same problem. He and Jackie held several classical music events here, and more than once he started applauding when he wasn’t supposed to. So the social secretary worked out a system where she’d signal him through a crack in the door. Now, fortunately, I have Michelle to tell me when to applaud. The rest of you are on your own.”

When most of today’s traditional classical music was composed and premiered, audiences were downright wild and rowdy. They’d clap irregularly, talk and even yell during the performance. Then, at some point during the 20th century, it became the social norm to applaud only at the end of the piece and never in between movements. The problem with this notion is it’s ultimately saying, “curb your enthusiasm, don’t get too excited,” if you like what you hear on stage.

We encourage the audience to clap when they are moved to do so! If the music is so excellent the audience can’t restrain itself, it’s perfectly acceptable to applaud between movements if you enjoyed the music. Barack Obama, John Kennedy, Beethoven and Mozart all agree. You have history on your side.


Absolutely! Prior to each concert, Music Director Janna Hymes leads a pre-concert talk called Meet the Music, highlighting our guest artists and interesting perspectives on the evening’s composers and their music. Meet the Music begins at 6:30 p.m. and takes place in the Palladium’s Robert Adam Room. If you’re unable to attend the pre-concert talk, plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before the concert starts so you can grab a drink, find your seat and have some time to read the concert program.


It varies, but most orchestra concerts are around 90 minutes of music with a 20-minute intermission. Very often there will be several pieces on the concert, but sometimes there is one single work played straight through. You’ll find the length of each piece listed on the event webpage and printed in your program.


The CSO makes every attempt to begin concerts on time. Latecomers will be seated after the conclusion of the first work on the program as to not to disturb other listeners. Patrons who leave the hall before or during a work will not be reseated until after the work is completed. Your usher will alert you as soon as it is possible to be seated. House lights are dimmed to indicate that the concert is about to begin.


The CSO prides itself on being an experience adults and children of all ages can enjoy. We only ask you please be respectful of others trying to enjoy the beautiful music along with you.


The concertmaster sits in the first chair of the first violins. She or he acts as leader of that section, but also plays a leadership role with orchestra as a whole. The concertmaster is also the last orchestra musician to enter the stage before a concert, and cues the orchestra to tune before the conductor walks out on stage.


Cell phones, candy wrappers and hacking coughs, life happens. But cell phones and alarm watches should be turned on silent while in the hall. The CSO appreciates the audience’s cooperation in avoiding any extraneous sounds that may distract the musicians or other audience members during concerts.


Non-flash photography by silenced handheld devices is allowed during CSO performances, but be mindful of distracting others. The glow from your device screen can disrupt the audience members behind you and should be dimmed. Feel free to share your photos on social media and tag us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

CSO League Dine and Donate | Danny Boy Beer Works

Join the Carmel Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the CSO League at Danny Boy Beer Works in Carmel’s Village of West Clay on Wednesday September 12, 2018 from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. and dine to donate (10% of food purchases) in support of the CSO League’s Education Outreach Programs.

The evening includes a magician entertainer. Plus stay after 9 p.m and join in karaoke fun with League members and CSO musicians.

“It’s a great way to get new people involved and help the community all around,” said CSO League member Sue Britton. “Individuals get to try a new restaurant in a nice area and help the CSO’s outreach programs. We all get so many financial contribution requests, this is a little different – a fun night out and it promotes spending dollars within our community and neighborhoods. It’s a win-win!”

The CSO League is working towards a few additional dine to donate events throughout the 2018-2019 season, including dining events around signature CSO family concert nights.

See Danny Boy Beer Works on a map.

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Season Subscriptions via CSO Office: 317.844.9717
Single Tickets via Palladium Box Office: 317.843.3800 

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Address: 760 3rd Avenue SW, Suite 102, Carmel, IN 46032