How to prepare
Welcome to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Gulbenkian Music Season. If this is the first time you visit us, you may find these answers to some frequently asked questions helpful.
About the Music
The two most common forms in orchestral music are the symphony and the concerto. A symphony is a large scale work interpreted by the entire orchestra, composed of two or more parts called “movements”.
A concerto is a work performed by the orchestra and a soloist, who play in dialogue with each other, and usually consists of three movements.
In a classical music concert there are small pauses of silence between each movement, during which the public does not applaud. The applause is kept for the end of the work, at the moment when the conductor indicates it has ended. You can find an indication of the number of movements in each work in the concert programme.
Strings: violins, violas, cellos, double basses
Woodwinds: flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, cor anglais
Brass: trumpets, trombones, horns, tubas
Percussion: timpani, harp, xylophone, etc.
Although it may vary according to the works to be performed or the conductor’s preference, the arrangement of the instruments is as follows:
The 60 or so instrumentalists of the Gulbenkian Orchestra are professional musicians who work and rehearse daily in the Grand Auditorium throughout the season (September to June), giving about 60 concerts a year. They also perform in free concerts in the city centre during the summer, and on national and international tours.
You can also attend the Pre-Concert Talks for free, which consists of a short session held one hour before the concert, with musical excerpts and commentaries on the works.
The Sunday Concerts, commentated in a relaxed atmosphere and designed to be enjoyed by the whole family, are another excellent opportunity to discover works, composers and performers.
Box Office Information
Plan your visit
Always take into account the possibility of traffic delays, parking time and other unforseen events.
In order not to disturb the concentration of the musicians and the audience, as a rule, entry to the auditorium must be made between movements (parts or sections of the work) or at the end of a work. You may have to occupy a seat other than that stated on your ticket.
On days of broadcasts from the Met Opera, you can buy a cocktail ticket, which includes a selection of drinks and aperitifs at your discretion.
About the Concerts
It is important to free yourself of preconceived ideas about the formality or atmosphere of a classical music concert, which nowadays is relaxed and informal.
You do not need any previous musical background to attend a concert and it is likely that you will recognise parts of some symphonies, concertos or choral works. Music written by great composers is often used in film soundtracks, television programmes and advertisements.
At the heart of every Gulbenkian Music season are the Gulbenkian Choir and Orchestra, two of the most prestigious ensembles in Portugal and Europe. The Grand Auditorium is a hall with a unique acoustic quality that makes the experience of listening live to some of the greatest names in classical music today an unforgettable experience.
One of the greatest pleasures of attending a live concert is the possibility of coming into contact with a work for the first time, attending a great performance, or rediscovering a piece.
To enrich the concert experience, some regular concertgoers find some pre-concert preparation useful.
This can be something as simple as reading the concert programme, or something more engaging like listening to a recording of the works that are to be performed or attending the Pre-Concert Talks.
However, at our Sunday Concerts, which are aimed specifically at families, the minimum age is 3 years old.
We also offer a range of activities for schools, such as guided visits, workshop-visits and concerts for schools. You may also bring your students to one of our Sunday Concerts. Learn more about these activities