How to Design a Concert Program

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Concert programs provide audiences with an outline of what they can expect to hear at a concert and can serve as a memento for a concertgoer. They are given to concertgoers as they enter an auditorium. There is no exact or proper way to design a concert program, and they range in length from one to many pages and include information of all sorts about the music being played, who wrote it and who is playing it.

Design the front page of the concert program. The front page is like an introduction to the concert. It should include general information about the concert, such as the date and time of the concert, the location where it is being held (city, state and name of the concert hall or arena), the name of the main performers and accompaniments, and the instruments featured. The purpose or the type of concert can also be described (e.g., doctoral concert, concert to benefit wildlife).

Create a list of the outline of the concert. The program should start with the name of the first piece, its composer and the musicians who are to perform the piece. All subsequent pieces are then included in the same basic format and in the order that the pieces will be played. The intermission should also be denoted at its place during the concert.

Add program notes. Program notes consist of additional information about the pieces performed during the concert and do not have a set length. Usually they include historical and compositional information about each piece, like the date it was composed, biographical information about the composer, the format of the piece (e.g., symphony, concerto, sonata), the length of the piece and the style of the piece (e.g., baroque, Romantic, modern). It is also common to see a detailed breakdown of the movements of a piece.

Make rough drafts of potential concert program designs. Try different fonts, layouts and outlines for the concert program to see which is the most presentable and displays the information in the best way. Use other concert programs for reference.

Decide whether to add supporting material to the concert program. Supporting material such as poems and song lyrics that were inspirations for or inspired by musical pieces played during the concert are sometimes good to include with the concert program as they lend to a better understanding of the music and its flow. Adding this material will help the audience, especially those not accustomed to listening to concert music, keep up with the music and make connections. Other typical supporting material would include biographical information about the performers, a description of what a concert may be supporting and a list of donors, if any, who made the concert possible.

Finalize the design of the concert program, proofread it (or, better yet, have someone else do so) and then print it.