Thursday, January 10, 2008

Seattle Symphony sale

The SSO's ticket sale began yesterday. Last year, the catch was 20 concerts for $20 each. This year, the theme is changed slightly. 30 concerts for $30 each. The concert selection is a nice mix of interesting programs, special guests, and visiting orchestras.

In early February, folks can hear the orchestra perform Brahms' First Symphony alongside Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht.

Dawn Upshaw is coming at the end of February to sing Golijov's Ayre. For months, Ayre was the only piece on the program. Recently, however, the rest of the program came into focus. Ayre will be paired with Stephan Hartke's Meanwhile, incidental music to imaginary puppet plays and George Crumb's Vox Balaenae.

One of the selections in March is the Bach B Minor Mass. Only recently have I warmed to this piece. From the Second City will be visiting the Emerald City and he will undoubtedly render an opinion on Seattle's flagship orchestra and their take on the Mass. Also, in March, Camerata Ireland comes to town bringing a light concert of Mozart, Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.

All of the concerts in the spring mini-festival "Coming to America," are on sale. Including, Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky. The performance is actually part of the Seattle International Film Festival and will include a showing (I presume) of Nevsky. Another concert worth investigating is the performance of the Genesis Suite, Korngold's Violin Concerto, and Martinu's Third Symphony. The Martinu and Korngold deserve to be played more. The verdict is still out on the Genesis Suite. The suite is an amalgamation of music by seven different composers ranging from Stravinsky to Shilkret. The suite is more of a novelty than anything destined to endure as standard repertoire.

Mahler's bleak Sixth Symphony concludes the orchestra's season and the concerts on sale.

Slashing ticket prices seems to be the norm these days. The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra cut their prices to $10 a ticket for younger patrons, Baltimore has $25 subscription tickets, and the Saint Louis Symphony has a $99 concert pass that lets patrons into nearly every concert between January 10 - March 2.

Seattle's offer may not be as generous, but it is still a good deal. Because the tickets are "best available" most seats are at least 50% less. The cost cutting is essential for most of the concerts on the list, especially the "Coming to America" festival. The festival features so much good, but not readily knowable music, that cutting ticket prices is probably the only way to generate a respectable audience. This good news for patrons who like to mix up their listening but are deterred by climbing ticket prices.

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