I agree with your posting [Adaptistration 01/07/04] about ticket prices being too high. I'm an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California, and I know first hand how very high ticket prices can be a huge turn off to large blocks of potential audiences - in my case, college-aged people and those who have recently graduated. For one, us younger folks often cash strapped, making most tickets in the auditorium simply unaffordable.
Even the lowest priced tickets ($35 at sparlky new Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is really just down the street from USC's campus) are three to four times more expensive than going to see a movie. High ticket prices make it easy for a student to pick a $10 movie over a $35 night at the symphony. Only those who are devoted enough will put down the money to go - I've had a tough time to get friends to go with me to concerts that I think will be very exciting, but its the ticket price that turns most people off.
Student rush and discounted tickets exist; however, getting them often entails two to three hours extra time waiting in line or waiting around just to get them. The procedures for how to actually get student tickets are often murky, and it is often difficult to obtain accurate information about how the programs work. Additionally, seating is also often a crapshoot; student rush while the Los Angeles Philharmonic was at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion often put us in the acoustical dead spots of the auditorium - not the ideal location for people attending a symphony for the first time. The rush programs are also not very well advertised, so many people simply don't know they exist - even if they'd be willing to put forth the extra effort to get the tickets.
For those ineligible for student tickets, the lowest ticket price often puts them in the far upper balconies. And even if the acoustics are sometimes better up there, my friend who might not know as much about the symphony simply feels removed and detached from the entire experience, walking away thinking "what was so great about that"?
So yes, there are lower priced tickets, but that doesn't mean you'll be getting the experience that the orchestra would like you to get. Repeat business might not be so insured if the first experience wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
That doesn't stop me from going after the discounted tickets - but I already enjoy going to the symphony, so I'm willing to go through the extra effort to get lower priced tickets. That doesn't speak for most of my peers. For them, all that extra effort for a seat in the upper atmosphere and only a so-so experiece isn't necessarily worth it.