Personally for myself, I would be most comfortable as an audience member for the symphony orchestra sitting farther away from the performers. A few months ago during the winter break I had taken the opportunity to go to a NYPhilharmonics concert of Brahms and Strauss, and my expectations were fulfilled. I was comfortable there because I knew what to do as an audience member, to keep quiet during the performance so as not to distract anyone’s attention, clap when they finish, and not to move around or speak unless it’s time to leave. I expected to hear a full concert of roughly 2 hours, and it was much better in person compared to listening to a concert from a screen. The sound is much fuller, rich, and the interaction of the conductor and the performers is vivid, rather than sudden closeups from a camera from a video.
I would be least comfortable at a chamber orchestra recital, because the distance from the performers and the audience is a bit out of my comfort zone. I would be more afraid to make a noise, and any movement could make a fellow audience member make a fuss, which in turn, could cause a domino effect that would reach the performers and their music would be disrupted just as fast. It would be nerve racking just to sit that close, and I feel if I had to attend a recital, it would have to be someplace that’s further away from the performers themselves, so they can concentrate on their craft.
I agree with you, I think that the orchestra environment would put me on edge. I would be worried about making a noise or getting up and being a distraction.
I thought your opinion was interesting since the one you would be most comfortable at, is in a similar scene as the one you are least comfortable at. An orchestra and a chamber music group, use similar instruments and are usually correlated with each other. But after reading your post, I understand as to why you may be more uncomfortable at one compared to the other, especially with the distancing of the performers and the audience.
I loooove seeing symphony orchestra, I like how you mentioned your own experience, and Brahms is one of my top 3 favorite classical composers so lowkey jealous you got to see the NYPhil performing