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July 26, 2006

Thanks to all

by Douglas McLennan

Thanks everyone for participating in this conversation. As usual, I don't think anything in particular was resolved. But could it be with such a large topic? Still, it's worth talking about if only to get some insight on other pespectives. We'll be continuing this conversation live Sunday afternoon at 12:45 in Aspen with Hugh Canning of the Times, David Stearns of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Justin Davidson of Newsday, and Andrew Druckenbrod of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Posted by mclennan at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

Different Appetites for Different Senses

by Frank J. Oteri

Before this debate comes to an end, I couldn't resist relaying a small anecdote from this evening. I just came back home from a free concert in Madison Park, a small park across from the Flatiron Building in Manhattan which is a short walk from my office at the American Music Center. Pianist Fred Hersch was playing in the park with his wonderful jazz trio. The audience for the most part was extraordinarily attentive, even during the almost barely audible, though thoroughly worth hearing, bass solos. And the music was really challenging at times: there was a piano trio version of a typically angular Ornette Coleman tune that put a whole new spin on his usually pianoless music which was obviously a far cry from easy listening. No one left. No one so much as made a sound except for a few toddlers, who will no matter where they are, right?

However, I couldn't help but continually think of this whole discussion throughout the performance, especially when I looked around and saw people having their picnics, among them a couple eating food they brought from...Wendy's. Perhaps I should reconsider the five-star music and food analogies I was riffing about after reading Andrew Druckenbrod's comments earlier today. Even still, there's lots of food for thought here that I hope we all continue to ponder on and that this dialog will continue and expand.

Posted by foteri at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

Response to Sam Bergman and Marc Geelhoed

by Klaus Heymann

Mr. Geelhoed states the prevailing attitude absolutely perfectly "If it's art that you're concerned about, you have to field the best team for it, and find a way to pay for it" and "no chief executive, mainly responsible for the bottom line, should have control over programming to the extent of the music director, either" - it says "let's make music and never mind where the money comes from" [ I'm wondering whether anybody in the audience noticed a few years back that the 4th trumpet in the Messiaen Ascension was not a CSO regular].

Regarding Mr. Bergman latest posting, I'm not saying that orchestras have too many musicians - I'm even saying that, if they can afford it, having 100+ musicians on salary is a good thing - what I'm saying is that orchestras must look at how many people they have on their payroll if their existence is threatened.

And when it comes to seven figure salaries for musical directors, he's talking about "an open market" when, in reality, there is no 'market' for symphonic music because it is not viable without subsidies [sponsors, tax payers].

Posted by kheymann at 06:39 PM | Comments (2)

Luxury Seating, part two

by Barbara Jepson

To answer Doug's questions: The absence of boxes as they exist in the great 19th century halls and their imitators
is viewed by some architects as a way to break down the barriers between what Frank Oteri calls "the haves and the have nots." Everyone sits on the same kinds of seats. (Disney Hall is a prime example of this.) There are no
areas with private entrances for box holders only, and everyone has the same amount of leg room. At Strathmore, in Bethesda, Maryland, architect William Rawn provided an extra 4 inches of leg room between seating rows; he's 6'8", and was tired of feeling cramped.

But of course in halls without boxes, some seats are still better than others in terms of acoustics and sightlines, so you still have tiered pricing. The "democratic" part is an aesthetic illusion, or an attempt at one. I think there is a genuine component of wanting to make the concert hall feel less formal.

As you say, a luxury box need not follow the old, red-velvet model--and it will be interesting to see, with 4 halls
opening this fall in North America, how they handle that issue. For myself, I love the experience of hearing music at a traditional shoebox rnegie Hall, with its red-velvet boxes, old-world feel, and pleasing acoustic, and I love the
informality of Zankel; if there was a way to replace Avery Fisher Hall with a hall that had the vitality, innovation and and generally fine acoustics of Disney Hall my concertgoing life would be complete, at least acoustically and aesthetically. I'm not bothered by the idea that you dress a bit more to go to some events at some concert halls,
nor do I feel compelled to dress up to the max. (But I've noticed that in cities outside New York, people
tend to dress up more for the symphony or opera than they do on normal (vs. gala opening) nights here, so maybe
that's more onerous in the Seattle area.

Here again, we're in a period of transition, and some new approaches to seating, feel, and layout are being tried. I think that's healthy, but I don't know if it would really make a difference to someone who has never contemplated going to the symphony or opera, or who is thinking about it but perceives it as formal and intimidating. What got me there in the first place was the transcendent beauty of the music itself, and that's what draws me back, again and again. That, and the special thrill of live performance.

Posted by bjepson at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)

Why we're ignoring opera

by Janelle Gelfand

Barbara brings up an excellent point about opera We are ignoring the opera industry, probably because most of the news we hear is more positive than that in the world of instrumental performing arts. Opera companies have younger audiences, they commission new works that get lots of local and/or national press (in our town last year, it was Richard Danielpour's "Margaret Garner") and yes, they are infinitely more accessible to the general public for the reasons we all know -- not least of which is surtitles.

Granted, in our town, we only have four operas, so there is a great deal of anticipation for the summer festival season, including dressing up for opening night. (There's also lots of reminiscing about the Zoo Opera, the Met's summer camp in the old days.)

I find it terribly interesting that two of the biggest names heading opera companies mentioned in this month's Opera News, are former record company executives, the Met's Peter Gelb and Cincinnati Opera's Evans Mirageas. I have to admit that I was skeptical when Mirageas was named artistic director here, since he is neither a conductor nor a stage director. But we have just come off the most impressive season in years, in terms of the consistently high production values in all four operas. Most promising, the repertoire won't be all ABC's. He has coming in future seasons Daniel Catan's "Florencia en el Amazonas" and Osvaldo Golijov's impressive "Ainadamar."

One thing that I did notice about Opera News' 25 Most Powerful Names in Opera was the conspicuous absence of women in powerful places. I know that this is the case among American orchestras and the battle female conductors and composers continue to wage, but I was disappointed that only four women were noted, and one of them is dead! (Maria Callas)

Posted by jgelfand at 12:54 PM | Comments (1)

The Necessary Means

by Frank J. Oteri

While it's true that any event that is free for all can wind up becoming a "free for all," as many people here—myself included—stated, I'll also have to take some issue with the tiered apprach that Doug has just suggested.

Yes, baseball—which I agree the classical music biz should do more to emulate—has elite boxes and bleacher seats, as do the airlines. (I never knew what it was like to feel the disparity between first class and coach until I was trapped on a UA plane on the O'Hare runway due to NY weather conditions and the flight staff wouldn't even give me a glass of water while first class passengers were being offered snacks; don't get me started.) But American audiences are equally used to more equitable arangements: there is no extra charge for sitting in the front of a bus, and thanks to Rosa Parks anyone can, and movies are one price for all seats. And recently, according to popular opinion polls, Americans overwhelmingly rejected a plan for frequent business class riders to fast forward through those time-consuming security checks at airports. It's nice to know that in the land of the free, sometimes everyone is equal no matter what their purchasing power is.

As I said earlier, I think the main reason why we would want classical music to reach more people in the first place is because the listening habits it engenders makes for a more civil society. And, yes, much of classical music's history, at least pre 20th century, is wrapped up in separating the haves from the have-nots: who was able tgo hear this music in centuries past, who wasn't. (This is part of the reason why there is frequently a disconnect with classical music for many Americans when it is presented in elitist garb; I still remember the misperceptions about classical music that were so common among students of mine when I was a high school teacher 20 years ago.) I also know that villains like Hitler and Stalin both loved classical music and used it for nefarious purposes—the human intellect has the capacity to uglify even the most sublime experiences. But at this late date, I think that having more people gain the ability to listen quietly to something and then reflect on it is ultimately a cause for the good that we need to be promulgating—to quote another sometimes controversial 20th century political leader—by any means necessary.

Posted by foteri at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

Democratic, Schmemocratic...

by Douglas McLennan

Barbara - In what form democratic? Are we really arguing that the current conventions of concert-going are democratic? And who says luxury boxes have to be on the order of the old red-velvet European type? Do I resent passengers in first class as I schlep by them on my way to economy? Do I really believe that fans in the luxury boxes at the baseball park are having a better time than I am in the upper deck? On the web, the basic business model these days is to offer a feature-packed free service, gather up as many fans of the service as you can and find ways to offer premium "extra-service" enhancements that a tiny subset of the free group will want to pay for. Most arts groups offer versions of this now - special perks for being members, like backstage tours or museum entry after hours. We're living in an increasingly concierged society, and the one-seat-fits-all model ain't a gonna cut it.

Posted by mclennan at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

Why No Luxury Boxes?

by Barbara Jepson

The reason there are no luxury boxes in many of the newer concert halls is that many architects want to move
away from the red-velvet opulence of the traditional 19th century concert halls after which many of our older halls
were modeled.

The idea is to make the seating more democratic. It will be ironic if this ultimately winds up turning off those who are
eager, like the "corporate overlords" that Doug mentions in his discussion of baseball parks, to pay extra for an added level of comfort or status, and makes everyone equally uncomfortable in the process.

Posted by bjepson at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

But Doug Doesn't Mean...

by Douglas McLennan

quite what I think you're reading into my comment, Josh. I think there should be plenty of expectation in the concert experience. Indeed, I think there's way too little now. It's one of the reasons I cringe when people start talking about "accessibility", which usually means "music lite" or some other form of lowered expectation.

I resent the charge that artists are snobs. The biggest snobs in the world are baseball fans, who throw around stats and observe copious traditions and act like the game is the Center of All Existence. Other snobs? I have been doing some home remodeling, and in the course of going to the local lumber store, am made to feel like an incompetent if I don't know the precise language or can't immediately see the advantages of one choice or another. Yet we celebrate snobbery in these forms. Why? Because they're somehow more authentic than art?

No. I think people love to belong to clubs. People like to feel smart. In the know. People like to feel like they're sharing an experience with other people who care about it too. Too often the doors are thrown open to the arts with too little demand or expectation. We minimize the passion of expertise that comes with getting to know something very well. I think we ought to celebrate the traditions and create more of them. Be more clubby (albeit an open club), not less.


Is listening to a concert in uncomfortable formal seating regimented in rows the last best way to appreciate the live concert experience? And isn't it possible, as sports teams have, to find ways to give people a wider range of how they can enjoy the live concert? I love going to concerts. But I don't always feel like being so formal as most halls want to insist you are. Most of the listening I do is around the house while I'm walking around. Or driving in the car. Or on my bike. We're a much less formal culture now than we used to be, even 20 years ago. We listen to music in more ways and in more places, and we have more control over our cultural menus.

The live concert experience should definitely be something different. It should offer us more. And does. I'm not making a plea for fewer expectations; indeed, I'm arguing for more. But I'd like there to be a wider range possible, and I think one of the ways classical music is narrowly defined is in the way we experience the live concert.

Posted by mclennan at 11:05 AM | Comments (1)

Doug Says...

by Joshua Kosman

"the setting drips with expectation about how you're to behave," as though that were a bad thing. I've never understood this notion that the existence of social norms in a particular setting is a daunting obstacle or some kind of fatal buzzkill. Yet it's a fairly common theme in discussions of how to make classical events more "welcoming." People can't be comfortable at concerts, the thinking goes, unless they understand exactly what kind of deportment is expected of them; and acquiring that knowledge is far too onerous.

Well, phooey. The other week I attended Catholic Mass for the first time, and of course it was hilariously easy to figure out how to behave. You stand when the people around you are standing; you sit when they sit; you don't holler "Yo! Bishop! Over here with the wafer!" unless someone else does it first and no one seems to object. Yes, you're always a beat behind the congregation, but so what?

Those simple rules work just fine at classical concerts, too, even for first-timers. And conversely, I believe -- though I could be wrong about this -- that the existence of a code of behavior ties in with Andrew's point about cost implying value. Having to leave behind your tub of beer and your garlic sausage is a kind of cost, and the imposition of that cost tells you that something is happening here that may well reward your sacrifice. It makes the event special. One of my favorite sights at the Symphony or the Opera is to see a young, even teenage, couple, out on a date and endearingly overdressed for the occasion. They know that this is a big deal, a cool thing, and that it calls for the cool-event costume -- even if they're not clear on how far to go with it.

Posted by jkosman at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

What can orchestras learn from opera companies?

by Barbara Jepson

Janelle's reference to the American Symphony Orchestra League's 1992 Wolf Report, and its possible relevance
to orchestra managements today, reminds me of some interesting findings that came out of a survey done for
Opera America in 2003. (Locating it is a little, um, shall we say, circuitous. Go to www.operaamerica.org, then click on "Companies," then "Marketing and Public Relations Resources," then "Deepening Opera Attendance"--the 2003 study. )

In a section called Research Findings Challenge Conventional Opera Wisdom, the following points struck me as particularly intriguing and possibly germane to orchestras and chamber ensembles as well:

1. There is no ladder!

The research did not support a long-standing belief in the industry of an upward, linear progression from
ticket buyer to subscriber to donor (then to higher-level donor) that underlies the marketing strategies of many
opera companies.....

2. The seat is the benefit (The second and third points listed here are numbered differently in the report.)

Preferred seating was seen as the primary benefit of subscribing or donating by 70% of all interviewees and
90% of subscribers......

3. Major donors do not appear to reflect the thinking or priorities of most of the audience.

The current approach to Board membership may be a barrier to deepening opera attendance and personal
involvement with opera companies.

By focusing primarily on major donors, companies may be leaving significant dollars on the table.......

What are the implications of There hasn't been much about opera on our blog so far. And in light of our "best of times, worst of times" issue, It's intriguing to me that, according to Opera America, the opera audience in the U.S. grew 35% between 1982 and
1992, and an additional 8.2% between 1992 and 2002. The growth has obviously slowed since 1992, and we all know of individual situations where there's been a major drop-off, most notably, at the Metropolitan Opera.

But contrast this to the symphony orchestra world. On the ASOL web site, under Quick Orchestral Facts for the
2002-03 season, it reports that total attendance at all orchestra concerts declined slightly in the 2002-03 season,
though it was still higher than a decade ago. (When they broke out classical concerts only, attendance had grown
by about half a percent.) We all know of individual situations in more than one major city where attendance is
easily down 10 percent or more.

What are the implications of these findings for orchetras? We haven't had much discussion of opera so far--is this the best or worst of times for opera? It seems like it's better overall than for symphony orchestras. Why might
that be? Do the visual and theatrical elements of opera make it more appealing to people? I've hated most of the visuals I've seen at symphony orchestra concerts, although I recall a wonderful recital by cellist Maya Beiser at Zankel Hall that went far beyond the usual slide accompaniments that attempt, in often silly or superficial ways, to mirror the music. Whoever did the visuals for her--it was an artist or designer of some sort--was really imaginative.

Posted by bjepson at 09:57 AM | Comments (1)

Oh God, Another Sports Analogy

by Douglas McLennan

I hate sports analogies. But, in terms of marketing their product, probably no industry is better at selling itself today than professional sports.

In the past 15 years, just like in the arts, there's been a flood of new facilities built for pro sports. In some cases, perfectly good arenas and stadiums have been decommissioned or torn down to make way for them. These buildings cost hundreds of millions each, and cities across the land have anti-ed up the cash. The justification for these new buildings? Revenue opportunities. Mostly the new buildings offer more ways to extract more money out of fans, even if in some cases the buildings hold fewer people than their predecessors.

Here's the parallel to Andrew's earlier post -pro sports knows a lot about who its fans are and why they come. They know it's important to give away lots of their content (so every game is on TV) so that they're a daily presence in people's lives and so they can hook you with their story. They know it's important to have a "bleacher bums" section where tickets are cheap, the view ain't great, but the camaraderie is over-sized. They know just how much they can raise ticket prices so the average fans can still afford to come fill the seats. They know how much free stuff they have to give the rabid fans (season ticket holders) so they'll shell out major money. And they know how to provide the "luxury" experience for corporate overlords willing to pay for expensive private suites with all the amenities.

Compare that with most of the concert halls built in the past 15 years (and there are many). They all, more or less follow variations on the traditional concert box plan, and aside from the view and some variation in acoustic, they're all the same experience. The modern concert hall is a formal experience, just like it was decades ago. The seats are rigid and packed close together. The rows regiment the experience, and the setting drips with expectation about how you're to behave.

Now, this may be fine for some occasions and for some people. But the world has changed. My favorite movie theatre in Los Angeles has wide aisles, reclining seats that let you rest your head, and a food menu that rivals a decent restaurant. It's fun being there.

Why aren't there luxury boxes in the new concert halls? (and I don't just mean those silly barred-off "box seats" that some halls push). Why is the range of experience offered to concert-goers so narrow? There are people willing to pay to stand at the Met. There are people willing to pay big bucks for great orchestra seats. But what about something more? Real luxury boxes, BarcaLoungers or some such, a "bleacher bums" section... Where is the imagination? One of the great pleasures of going to Disney Hall in LA is the theatrical way the audience is arranged. It's fun just to be in the hall. But there still needs to be more of a range of experience possible...

Posted by mclennan at 09:32 AM | Comments (3)

Five Stars

by Frank J. Oteri

Andrew Druckenbrod makes several good points when he explains why Americans distrust freebies. One that might get overlooked in all of this is the 5-star restaurant paradigm he describes. Perhaps we should start calling classical music "5-star music"?! Where the parallel breaks down is that the 5-star restaurants don't complain that fewer people eat at them than, say, at McDonald's. Yet the fancy eateries are happy with the number of customers they have since that small number can support what they do. On the other hand, so many people who care about classical music (myself included) complain that so few people are listening to it partly because we are worried that without greater audiences there will be no way to economically support this music in the future.

Classical music, particularly orchestral music and opera, costs a helluva lot more to make (composing time, copying time and part preparation, the number of people involved in performing it, rehearsal time, logistics, etc) than almost any other kind of music (although pop production values and costs for recordings and various arena concerts for the most part trump those of classical music). So, more money needs to be generated in order to make classical music happen. Back in the days of courtly patronage, folks like the Esterhazys or Frederick the Great could have orchestras at their disposal—although they certainly weren't 100-piece bands—but remember far fewer people listened to this music then than they do now. Yes, free concerts are frequently not aesthetically rewarding experiences—and I'm not sure the best way to introduce potential new 21st century American fans to this music is through the inevitable cavalcade of 18th and 19th century European warhorses (Brandenburgs, Mozart, 1812 Overture) that Janelle Gelfand cited earlier in this chain. But, what we really need are other kinds of exposure for this music to grow an audience (if that's ultimately what we want to have happen): radio, TV, schools, a presence in society beyond the recording and concert experiences, free or otherwise. You hear the latest pop tunes every time you're in a clothing store. You pretty much only hear classical music—old and usually less than stimulating classical music—in railroad and bus terminals; allegedly the program was started to keep derelicts out of these public spaces, and it worked...

Yet despite all of this, classical music, through keeping the prices relatively low compared to the cost outlay of making this music, has still managed to bring "5-star" aesthetics to many denizens of our great fast food nation. Go figure.

Posted by foteri at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

Response to Sam Bergman

by Klaus Heymann

The three questions which I asked in my original contribution don't have to be asked by orchestras which are in good health and which can afford both a Musical Director and a Chief Executive; a Musical Director with a seven-figure salary and 100 musicians on six-figure salaries with 52-week contracts. But there is only a handful of these and all others will have to ask these hard questions [and probably others] if they want to survive and continue to offer good concerts and employ musicians full-time.

Regarding the musical director/chief executive issue, I am in regular contact with both chief executives and musical directors, both in the United States and in the rest of the world. There are quite a few chief executives who have excellent repertoire knowledge, know how to put exciting and commercially successful programs together and how to balance the books - the only thing they cannot do is conduct. Whether an orchestra with such a chief executive also needs a musical director is the question that needs to be asked.

But there are also conductors who are well organized and qualified administrators and whether they need a chief executive is the other question. I know what I'm talking about because, in the distant past, I was the general manager of a symphony orchestra. Furthermore, the Musical Director/Chief Executive formula is by no means the norm in the rest of the world which is why it is something orchestras in trouble may have to look at.

I agree with Mr. Bergman that there are not a lot of truly great conductors around today but that also was true in the past. The question is whether any conductor is worth a seven-figure salary [and whether he should demand it] given the fact that many orchestras can't really afford it. I don't think an orchestra will necessarily descend to second-class status if it doesn't employ a seven figure conductor and, instead, employs only an excellent musician to improve standards. I will never understand why the musical directors in the United States have to do the schmoozing - I think orchestras would be far better off hiring a professional schmoozer or finding an enthusiastic supporter of the orchestra to do the work [I know what I'm talking about because I once was the unpaid chairman of the fundraising committee of a symphony orchestra] and hiring a terrific six figure conductor instead. I was not suggesting that orchestras should get together and cap the salaries of their musical directors but simply that they pay no more than they can afford, given the difficult times. And when it comes to mistakes made by boards when appointing a new musical director, orchestra musicians are at least as likely as boards when it comes to making the wrong choices. Again, I know what I'm talking about - I actually drew up a checklist for several orchestras who were and are looking for new chiefs.

Regarding the size of the orchestra, every conductor I know wants to have the biggest possible orchestra but, in reality, most have to make do with what is possible. Basically, most works composed before 1890 can be performed perfectly well by an orchestra of 70 musicians - 50 string players [14/12/10/8/6], 8 wind players [2/2/2/2], 10 brass [4/2/3/1], a timpanist and a percussion player. These 70 musicians can play all the great favorites from Mozart [he only needs 33] to Brahms, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky and practically all great concertos. Of course, additional full-time piccolo and cor anglais players would be convenient and desirable and bring the total to 72 players. A third clarinet and a third bassoon and a harpist are also desirable but already a bit of a luxury. And I think the great majority of orchestras around the world makes do with about that number [74/75] of full-time musicians. All other positions are filled by extras, many of whom are regulars - I have to deal with this issue all the time when these medium size orchestras want to record repertoire that requires additional musicians - a third trumpet, one or two more horns, a few extra percussion players, etc. - it's referred to as "augmentation" and the question always is who will pay for it. Of course, ideally orchestras should not have to rely on freelancers even for Mahler, Ravel and Richard Strauss but if it is a matter of survival, orchestras will have to manage with a smaller number of salaried players and doing all the big jobs by adding freelancers. And, of course, orchestras will also have to look at their administrative structures and cut an administrator before cutting a musician.

I don't think our UK orchestras will agree that their prestige and artistic reputation have plummeted - these orchestras are actually not made up of freelancers [Mr. Bergman is not correctly informed here] - the players are actually stakeholders in their orchestras but they get only paid when they play, at least that's the situation of the top London orchestras. And they all survive and play many great concerts. Of course, they don't pay their principal conductors or musical directors seven figure salaries - they only get paid when they work. Most other orchestras are on salary.

Posted by kheymann at 06:45 AM | Comments (2)

Free = Cheap. An American Reality

by Andrew Druckenbrod

Loved Klaus' comments, but I wanted to comment on pricing, already given insightful thought above in the thread. This is a fascinating subject -- far more complex than I ever thought when I first delved into it as a critic.

At the base of the issue, in my opinion, is that, with everything else orchestras have to worry about, they should not have the added burden of being agents of social change. Offering free tickets is social policy. It is not the way the free market works and it carries with it many associations. The greatest is that Americans don't respect something that is free. Oh, we may take it once or twice, or more, but we don't respect it. At least not most of us. With the exception of special events like park and summer outdoor concerts, there should always be a price for admission. (comparing this to the free museums of London are just as problematic as comparing the governmental funding of orchestras there to ours. There are many differences to take into account.)

Americans tend to view quality in relation to price. If it is free, it is cheap. Furthermore, we are wary of "free offers," wondering what the catch is. Frankly, there usually is a catch! Once you are in the hall, the orchestra starts telling you how (sometimes from the stage itself, sometimes in programs) the only way the ticket prices are free, or even remotely affordable, is because of people who donate money, and you should be like them! A big guilt trip and big catch, even if it is true.

So, how to handle pricing? I am sure that there have been some good experiments on this over the years, however perhaps stratified pricing is the answer - but changed from what is typical now. Classical music has always been socially stratified, just like our culture, and orchestras can't change that. A significant amount of people exist who want to pay a lot for a ticket because they want to feel they are getting that top-notch experience for that fun night out. It's the same with 5-star restaurants. Most of us have felt this at sometime, especially when we venture out to something else we are less familiar with. So perhaps radically reduce the price of the B seats in the hall (placement-wise, not necessarily sound-wise), so that at least some payment is made, but it is competitive with movie theaters. And then keep the A seats (again, in placement, such as balcony) in the higher range (not too high, but substantial) and then offer extra incentives for these, like a special reception room or parking arrangement for them. I think, actually, many orchestras do this last part. It's especially good when a musician or two attends the reception as an added benefit.

So is this an elitist suggestion? No! It is a reflection of the market. Every pop/country/hip hop concert is this way; Broadway and other arts, too. We can't berate orchestras to be more market savvy, and then turn around and say it is elitist for them to cater to different patrons differently.

Some want to come for the music; some want to come for the social experience (whether we like it or not, "being seen" is still a large reason why many attend classical concerts). Some don't have much $$, some definitely do. There are music lovers in either category (and there are other categories, of course). But, even as I posted above about how the institutions need to always be changing, stratification has been a constant from the early days of concerts and operas going public. Pricing won't drive it, that stratification is already there. I know that subsidizing anything is difficult for administrators, but I think a two (or more) tiered price structure, with very low minimum, but a high roller's option might not be a bad idea and might fill halls from both directions.

Then again, all of my tickets are comps, so what do I know...

Posted by adruckenbrod at 06:03 AM | Comments (0)


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