About the Lesher Center
What first began in 1967 as the old Walnut Creek Nuthouse, the Lesher Center for the Arts opened its doors in 1990 and today puts on 900 productions a year and welcomes 350,000 guests annually. The Center is owned and operated by the City of Walnut Creek and features three theaters, the Bedford Art Gallery, and excellent dining options within walking distance.
Look For the Hoffman Theatre
The Lesher Center for the Arts houses three different theatres (the Hoffmann, Margaret Lesher, and Vukasin). The Hoffmann is the largest auditorium and the largest stage, and is where California Symphony Orchestra performances take place. When you enter the venue, go up the stairs or elevator: at the top of the stairs go right, and as you exit the elevator go left. And of course ushers are standing by to help direct you as well.
Wheelchair accessible seating is offered at every price point in the house, and the building and parking garage are all ADA compliant. For hearing impaired patrons, Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are available free of charge and can be checked out from the ALD cart and usher stationed near the second floor elevators, in the center lobby area. Each device has a headphone jack for either an induction loop accessory (for patrons with telecoil compatible hearing aids) or for headphones. Patrons are welcome to bring their own headphones (with a 3.5 mm jack) to use with the FM receivers. The Lesher Center has ear speakers available to borrow if needed.
Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the facility.
Bring Drinks To Your Seats
No need to gulp down your drinks, you can bring them into the auditorium. And you can pre-order drinks for intermission: flag down one of the iPad-wielding servers in the lobby before the show to have drinks waiting for you at the break.
The Free Talk Helps
Sit anywhere in the house you’d like and learn more about the concert you’re about to see at the free pre-concert talk with Music Director Donato Cabrera, who usually brings out any soloists or guest artists performing that day to join him for Q&A. The talk starts one hour before the performance and lasts 30 minutes, leaving a half hour to use the facilities or get that drink refill.
Phones On and Silent Allowed
Not every orchestra feels this way, but we love seeing patrons taking selfies while the orchestra is warming up in the background, checking in on social media, and sharing your experience with others. What we don’t like are phones ringing or making other noises during the performance, or when your phone is blowing up so much it practically looks like strobe light—just like people don’t like those things at the movie theater. Just make sure your phone is on silent out of consideration for the performers.
Clap When You Like It
Here’s the deal: in the early days of classical music the audience was rather rowdy—clapping, talking, and even shouting during the performance. Then, at some point during the 20th century, this changed, and the social norm became to applaud only at the end of the piece and never between movements (in other words, clap at the end of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and stay silent during the breaks between movements 1, 2, 3 and 4). The trouble with this is for people who don’t know this unwritten rule about when to applaud, at every concert someone inevitably claps after the first movement and then feels weird because they’re the only one, or like they somehow missed this secret memo. We decided that’s kind of awkward, and not even true to the origins of classical music, so our policy is that when you have an emotional reaction to the music and you want to express, do it. If you love a movement of fill-in-the-blank symphony and want to cheer for the performance you just heard, do it! Note: not every orchestra is okay with this, so don’t take this policy as the rule of thumb everywhere. At the California Symphony though, if you’re enjoying what you’re hearing, we’d love nothing more than for you to show it. Pro tip: watch the conductor as the music is ending; s/he usually gives great non-verbal cues if the ending is solemn, quiet, or sad and doesn’t want a big eruption of applause.
Say Hello At The Info Table
Located in the second floor lobby near the elevators and the stairs, we always have Symphony staff at the information table to answer any questions or provide info you need on the performance or the season. Sometimes the guest artist joins us at intermission or after the show to sell and autograph merchandise which helps support their career. Don’t be shy—we love meeting patrons, and would love for you to say hello, tell us your thoughts on your concert experience, and hopefully come back again and again. See you at the show!