Symphony Center Chicago Stage


An Unmatchable Experience

Director's Choice provides the most accessible opportunity for student performance groups to cross this esteemed stage with the Premier Performance Invitational. Performing in this internationally-acclaimed venue allows your students to taste world-class prestige and excellence.


Male and female students playing their assortment of woodwind instruments onstage at Carnegie
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Frequently Asked Questions

When will we know if we have been accepted?

The Director’s Choice Premier Performance Invitational selection committee meeting is scheduled as needed when applications are received. Your application packet will be reviewed at the selection committee meeting. All applicants that submit an application will be notified immediately following the meeting.

Is the Premier Performance Invitational at Symphony Center Chicago adjudicated?

No. The only adjudication portion of the Symphony Center Chicago concert is the application process. Once selected, ensembles are encouraged to focus on presenting the best possible musical performance without regard for the competitive element of musical selections.

What time will my ensemble perform?

Performance times will be assigned 60 days prior to performance.

Is transportation included in the package price?

The package price does not include any transportation.

What is the appropriate attire for the Premier Performance Invitational?

For the performance, groups must wear uniforms or concert dress.

Will we have an audience for our performance?

Directors’ Choice will arrange for each performing ensemble to listen to another performing ensemble. This ensures every group will perform for a knowledgeable and respectful audience.

Can we purchase CDs or photographs of our performance?

Due to the Symphony Center's strict licensing agreements, it is not possible to sell media of any type from the concert performance. Each ensemble will receive a master CD and a master photograph for archival purposes. Duplication of the archival media is prohibited.

Can we take our own photographs or video recording of our performance?

Due to the Symphony Center’s strict licensing agreements, it is not permissible to video or photograph inside the auditorium.

Can more than one ensemble “share” a performance slot?

No, the 40 minute window can only be utilized by one ensemble.

Are there any exceptions if we have more than 80 performers in one performance slot?

Having more than 80 performers on stage would limit the amount of room for the standard arrangement of percussion instruments.

Are we allowed to change clothes in our assigned backstage room?

No, the backstage room you will be assigned is a pre-concert gathering area for each ensemble, but is not set up nor large enough to utilize as a dressing room. Each ensemble needs to arrive at the Hall in concert dress.

Have Questions? Talk to a Travel Consultant


The Application

Digital Recording:

We can accept digital recordings using the following methods:

  • Electronic File Sharing
The recording sampling rate  44.1 kHz. Note that over compression of .mp3 files will greatly diminish recording quality.  Wav files are the preferred format. Please include Track Number, Title, Movement, Composer, and Arranger of each selection.  Each selection must be a continuous performance which was recorded at a concert, festival, or contest. Multi-movement works must be recorded from continuous performance. Recordings should not be edited after the performance except to remove announcements and introductions. Engineering, editing, or tampering with the recording in any way is not allowed. The recording should represent a fairly recent recording of the ensemble and the director that is applying to the Premier Performance Invitational.

Music Requirements:
  • Concert Band - One march and one concert selection
  • Instrumental Jazz Ensemble - Two selections in contrasting styles
  • Orchestra - Two selections contrasting in historical period, styles, and tempo (no solo repertoire)

The Concert


Symphony Center is a music complex located at 220 South Michigan Avenue in the Loop area of Chicago, Illinois. Home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Chicago Symphony Chorus; Civic Orchestra of Chicago; and the Institute for Learning, Access, and Training; Symphony Center includes the 2,522-seat Orchestra Hall, which dates from 1904; Buntrock Hall, a rehearsal and performance space; Grainger Ballroom, an event space overlooking Michigan Avenue and the Art Institute of Chicago; a public multi-story rotunda; tesori restaurant; and administrative offices. Orchestra Hall was designated a National Historic Landmark on April 19, 1994. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.


Each ensemble will be given 40 minutes to perform their entire concert program. This time includes an onstage warm-up, special tuning, breaks between movements, and time between selections. There will be a 10-20 minute set change between ensembles.

Creating the perfect program for a Premier Performance Invitational performance is a task that demands careful consideration. As a general rule, a thoughtful conductor will select a program:

  • which features the strengths of your ensemble
  • that is enjoyable for an audience of parents and young musicians
  • written by recognizable composers
  • that is not too difficult for the ensemble
  • of the appropriate length

In addition, it is important to consider the duration of your program based upon the ability level and endurance of the performers.

Without the rules and restraints of a traditional music contest or festival, you are encouraged to explore exciting options such as featuring a soloist (student or professional) or having a composition commissioned for the ensemble.


Without the rules and restraints of a traditional music contest or festival, directors are encouraged to explore these inclusions.

The Premier Performance Invitational at Symphony Center Chicago includes:

  • Performance in one of the world’s leading venues - Armour Stage at  Symphony Center Chicago
  • Commemorative shadow box for each ensemble, including archival onstage group photograph
  • Archival CD recording of performance for conductor
  • 20 minute sound check on stage
  • 40 minute performance time
  • Each ensemble will be assigned a pre-concert gathering area for the purpose of organization and staging.
  • Buntrock Hall will be used as a warm-up room. Music stands may be limited for warm-up
  • Poster for each ensemble

Equipment Provided in Premier Performance Invitational at Symphony Center Chicago package:

  • Grand Piano
  • Chimes
  • Concert Bells
  • Xylophone
  • Marimba
  • Vibraphone
  • Timpani 23", 26", 29", 32"
  • Large Gong with Stand
  • Concert Bass Drum

All other equipment and accessories are the responsibility of the performing ensemble. Students assume all responsibility for bringing sticks, beaters and mallets.

Director’s Choice Performance Events team can assist with the rental of additional instruments if notified at least 60 days prior to event. Additional instruments are not covered in the Premiere Performance Invitational at Symphony Center Chicago Concert Package.

Additional large instruments and percussion equipment will be assigned specific load-in times to meet load-in and performance schedule. Load-in/load-out of large instruments will be handled by Symphony Center Chicago stagehands. Note: depending on the size of the delivery vehicle, additional dock access fees may apply.



Director’s Choice will promote and advertise your performance as follows:

  • Symphony Center’s monthly concert calendar
  • Concert Program - (PlayBill) is currently not priced and will be an additional fee contracted after concert selections are chosen.
    • ensemble bio and photo, conductor bio and photo, performer names, program information.
    • It is the conductor’s responsibility to provide accurate information within the timeline specified.  All requested materials are due 90 days prior to the performance date.
  • Ensembles are not permitted to distribute any additional printed materials at the Symphony Center.

Event Pricing

  • 60-minute performance: $25,251.06 single ensemble concert
  • 45-minute performance: $13,763.93 per ensemble for a 2-ensemble concert
  • 40-minute performance: $9,439.95 per ensemble for a 3-ensemble concert

The undersigned customer and Director’s Choice (provider) hereby enter this contract and agree to the following terms and conditions, including terms, conditions and selections indicated on the attached package form:

  • Application Fee $995.00 (only refundable if application is denied) (40 minute or 3 hour concert)
  • Non-refundable deposit due 60 days after acceptance:
    • $4,250 non-refundable deposit
  • 50% of total production charges is due by 120 days from performance
  • 75% of total production charges is due by 90 days from performance
  • 100% of total production charges is due by 60 days from performance
  • If payments are not made according to the payment schedule, registration may be canceled. Registrations may be reinstated by Provider, at its option, upon receipt of payment. This may affect the availability of goods and services. Late payments incur a $25.00 late payment fee.
  • Any excess funds will be applied as an account credit toward future charges unless a refund check is requested in writing.
  • Returned checks are subject to a $25.00 processing fee


All cancellations must be made in writing via email by the client. Upon receipt of written email notification of cancellation, refund of production charges will be applied as follows:

Time Period*

Package Cancellation

120-90 days prior to performance 50% of package price less non-refundable application fee and deposit
90 days to performance 100% of package price | No refunds will be made.
No-show 100% of package price | No refunds will be made.
Application fee + deposit Non-refundable


*The date that written notice of cancellations or changes is received in the Provider’s office and confirmed via email will be the date from which charges will be based.

Responsibility + Liability:

  • Provider shall not be held liable in whole or part, for any damage or injury to persons or property, including damages arising from acts of negligence by any vendor or member of a Group unless such damage is caused by the gross negligence of Provider.
  • Provider shall not be responsible for events beyond its control, such as, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, acts of war or terrorism, government restrictions, or for acts of omissions of persons or companies not controlled by provider, such as, without limitation, air carriers, bus companies, railways, and hotels. Provider and its officers, directors, employees, and agents are hereby released from all claims arising out of such event, acts, or omissions.

General + Administrative:

  • Unlike other festival products, Symphony Center Chicago Premier Performance Invitational requires a significant amount of communication with the client. It is imperative the client responds to communications from the Director’s Choice Performance Events team in a timely manner to ensure the client’s performance experience is the best it can be.
Have Questions? Talk to a Travel Consultant

Performance Application