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Pauline Lerner

A bit of good news about classical music in the U.S.

March 7, 2010 at 11:13 AM

The news about classical music in the US is generally pretty bad. Major symphony orchestras are on the verge of going broke. Musicians are forced to take horrific cuts in salaries and benefits. The latest bad news is from the time honored Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, a bulwark of culture in this country. Now that orchestra is playing to 40% empty houses and the musicians are taking major financial cuts. This is especially discouraging because just two years ago, the Philadelphia Orchestra was paying its musicians high salaries and giving them good benefits.

Only one major symphony orchestra is bucking the trend: the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The BSO is also the only major American Symphony Orchestra led by a woman, Marin Alsop, but that may be a coincidence. ;-) I 've read that the BSO is attracting more concertgoers and getting more grants and donations. I have just learned that truth in a personal way. I bought tickets to a BSO concert series months ago, when they first became available and the prices were at their lowest. I recently developed a schedule conflict for one performance, so I looked up the rules and found that I could exchange my ticket for a ticket to another BSO concert. Because I had ordered series tickets at the beginning of the concert season, I got a very good price: $30 for the cheapest seat in the house. The first concert I chose as a potential substitute was completely sold out. My second choice concert was sold out except for two seats at $47 each. The one remaining concert had about 35 seats available at $47 each. I considered the sorry state of my budget and decided not to go to any of these concerts. Nevertheless, I felt happy that one good, major symphony orchestra in this country is thriving, and I can hear it live. Yay!!!!!

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