Now I have nothing but admiration for full-throated efforts to rope kids into the concert hall. There can never be too many discount tickets for students. Singles night at the symphony sounds a little painful but harmless. But as soon as come-ons to the pre-gray crowd take the form of specialized programming, the results often wind up looking positively geriatric. (Marvin Hamlisch is the illest!) I may not belong to the 18-34 club any more, but I didn't renounce my membership that long ago, and I don't recall liking lame, slurpy concerts any more then than I do now. Focus groups notwithstanding, the artistic tastes of the young are unpredictable. The 33-year old, musically inexperienced friend whom I took to hear Thomas Ades' hard-hitting Asyla and a Mozart Piano Concerto played by the Berlin Philharmonic last weekend had this to say: "That first piece was fantastic! And the Mozart was OK, too." It wasn't youth-oriented programming that got my friend to the concert (although, as a matter of fact, both pieces were by composers in their 20s). It was that irresistible opiate to which the callow and the ancient alike are addicted: a free ticket.
Attention Carnegie Hall management -- you want to know why I wasn't at that gig? (Of course you do. I'm an influential thought leader in your target demographic.)
Ethan Iverson says it all:
I saw the NY premiere of Thomas Adès' Asyla from the third-to last row in the rear balcony of Carnegie Hall. (Tix for two were still $155.)
In three of the four movements, tiny events happen before a crash, and I couldn’t really hear any of the tiny events well enough, even though all are marked “as loud as possible” in the score. Being so high up must have been the problem--perhaps in the $300 seats I would have heard the details better.
There was a recent discussion of ticket prices on the Finale users' listserv, especially the cost of seeing classical gigs versus rock or jazz gigs. Contributor Owain Sutton wrote:
At the South Bank Centre, you can see the Alban Berg Qt or the London Sinfonietta for £8, and the LPO for £6. And Figaro at the Royal Opera for £7.
Is the situation in America really that much different from this?
Goddammit. If I lived in London (like my brother), I'd be at The Barbican every week. (Especially for stuff like this.) But I haven't been to an orchestral concert since moving to NYC and barring some miraculous windfall, I don't see that changing anytime soon.
By contrast, Alarm Will Sound at Zankel Hall is a (relative) steal at $28-33. But when $30 is the low end of the price scale, it's not terribly mysterious why even people like me, who would have have loved to have caught this Met Orchestra gig (having yet to experience a truly killing live version of the Rite) tend to stay away.