Frequently Asked Questions

Chamber Music Basics

1. What is chamber music?

Chamber music has been described as a conversation among a small number of musicians, without a conductor, on a musical idea. The term originated in the 18th century to describe concerts that were presented in smaller, more intimate settings, such as residences or salons, rather than concert halls.

Many NCMF concerts feature the string quartet, which includes two violins, a viola and a cello, each playing a separate part, although there are many other chamber configurations that can include such instruments as the piano, bass, clarinet, flute, vocalist, and less “traditional” instruments including steel drum, marimba, shakuhachi, and sitar.

2. How long are NCMF concerts?

While there is no set time frame, most concerts last between an hour and a half and two hours, with an intermission. It is a good idea to show up 10 to 15 minutes beforehand to check in or purchase tickets. Latecomers are asked to wait until the audience applauds following a selection to enter the performance space.

Occasionally, a musician or composer will present a pre-concert lecture prior to the performance, providing special insights into and background on the music on that night’s program.

3. What should I wear to a concert?

Just about any attire is suitable for an NCMF concert; some people do like to dress up, but jeans or chinos are perfectly acceptable.


4. Are kids welcome at NCMF concerts?

A child must be able to sit quietly, without fidgeting, throughout a 1½- to 2-hour concert (with intermission), so parents should use their best judgment. 

Babies and young children are best left at home with a babysitter, although both are welcome at open rehearsals and at the free summer outdoor Family Concert in Patrick Tracy Square (or inside the Newburyport Public Library in case of rain).

Other Questions

1. How do open rehearsals work?

During the summer festival, those interested in learning how the artists-in-residence work together to prepare music are invited to drop in at any time — with or without kids — during the free open rehearsals, which take place in public venues.


2. What is “Hausmusik"?

"Hausmusik” is the name for “readings” at a private residence, a space more intimate and informal than the usual concerts. Musicians sight-read music selected by audience members. Tickets for these sessions are less expensive than regular concert tickets.

Seating is very limited, so early reservations are strongly recommended.

3. How do I purchase tickets?

Tickets may be purchased online through the link on the Ticket Page of this website or by phone at 978-701-4914 up to 3 hours prior to the performance. In many instances tickets may be purchased at the door with cash, check or credit card (please allow an extra 10 minutes). Online ticket purchasers may just provide their names at the door rather than presenting their paper receipts.


4. What if I’ve purchased tickets and discovered I won’t be able to attend a concert? 

NCMF’s refund policy requires 2 days’ advance notice so tickets can be made available to others. In the case of a multiple-concert subscription, the refund will be adjusted to reflect the higher price of individual tickets.