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Pauline Lerner

The Symphony vs the Super Bowl

February 1, 2009 at 11:34 PM

A few days ago I got an email from the Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS) telling me that because I am an ePatron (I subscribe online), they would give me a free ticket to the concert today at the Kennedy Center. All I had to do was reply by email or phone and let them know that I wanted the free ticket. I did so pronto. This is a highly unusual situation. Occasionally WPAS offers me a ticket to a concert for $35 or so at the last minute. I wondered why they offered me a free ticket. Were the performers so bad or so unknown that almost no one had bought tickets to hear them? I looked up the concert on the Internet. The performance, scheduled to celebrate the Chinese New Year, was by the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra. The program, an eclectic mix of Chinese and American music, featured

Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein)
Pipa Concerto (Xiaogang Ye) (The pipa is a Chinese classical instrument resembling the lute.)
Piano Concerto (Chen Yi)
Symphonic Picture: Porgy and Bess (Gershwin, arr. Bennett)

That sounded like an interesting concert to me, so I was disappointed when I got an email from WPAS telling me that all tickets had been sold or given away.

After reading the news, I realized why so few tickets had been sold: The Super Bowl is today. I even remembered reading about a possible crisis of national importance: a shortage of potato chips.

Watching football for free on TV at home has triumphed over paying for a ticket to hear a concert live at the Kennedy Center.

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