Why are front rows in orchestras cheaper than most other areas?

Edited: November 17, 2017, 6:01 PM · I'm going to Zukerman's concert tonight. Anyone else seeing him tonight? I only bought a ticket this morning and I was surprised that front seats are just in the middle of the price range. I will be seating on 3rd row dead center so I'm quite excited about that!

On my previous and only other orchestra experience, I was seated 3rd or 4th row back most. Would definitely be a fun experience comparing both.

I'm guessing that front rows are not that great acoustically since there's not enough space for the sound to travel and merge into a cohesive music?

Replies (17)

November 17, 2017, 6:24 PM · Do you like poor balance, looking up the conductor’s posterior or the players’ noses and pant legs? Are you into black dress shoes? Then front row is for you.
on the other hand, do you want to learn how the principals communicate, learn how they breath and phrase, listen to individual players and watch their motion up close getting to use your brain’s mirroring to improve your playing?
Then front row is definitely for you.
November 17, 2017, 6:40 PM · I used to take my kids to the symphony and sit in the front row- they were 4 and 2 at the time. They would watch the musicians for a while, then fall asleep to Mozart and Beethoven. It was lovely.

Enjoy Zukerman and the close up view of his bow arm!!

November 17, 2017, 6:43 PM · I wouldn't turn down that seat! But I think the reason is because you're sort of looking up at the orchestra's feet rather than seeing a full view of it. Also maybe the sound is less balanced? That's just a guess.
Edited: November 17, 2017, 7:00 PM · Btw, don’t let Zukerman’s nonchalant demeanor put you off. Watch and listen intently. There is a lot of masterful technique and musicality that is masked by his apparent ease. I think of him when I need to relax and open up my sound because I’m tightening up. I also think of him and Mutter pretty much every time I want to imagine myself playing better.
Edited: November 17, 2017, 7:04 PM · I've never been this close, so I'll find out later whether I like it or not though I definitely I want to see Zukerman's shoes up close! Just kidding. I want to focus on his playing and the sound of the violin.

Julie, I hope I don't end up falling asleep like your kids though I won't be surprised if it happens to me haha. I have very short attention span and if I can't move around I have very high chances of falling asleep (I can sleep in the train like a baby). I actually fell asleep for a few minutes during Joshua Bell's performance (no offense I'm really just a sleepyhead and even fell asleep on my very first class on the very first day of college).

November 17, 2017, 7:11 PM · Let's not say fall asleep, let's call it 'fall into a trance state where there is only music and the id.' and think of all the beautiful dreams you had.
November 17, 2017, 8:36 PM · I generally like to sit in the fourth row or so, but I prefer to experience the orchestra in performance more similarly to how I experience it as a player. And it allows me to see the soloist in great detail.

That is not the ideal sonic balance or best way to hear the orchestra as a whole if you're a typical audience member, though.

Edited: November 17, 2017, 10:22 PM · On intermission right now. Have to agree with Lydia, definitely not the best way to hear the orchestra as a whole. Would definitely not recommend a first time goer to sit in the front. I guess it depends on what is being played. The grand piano definitely blocked a lot of the sound from the back. Interesting to watch the violinists play though.

I also shouldve done my homework and listened to Ives Symphony no.4 first. It was the most chaotic music Ive ever heard.

November 17, 2017, 10:23 PM · Wow. Your pretty devoted to be checking in during intermission.
Edited: November 18, 2017, 12:05 AM · Not much to do during intermission :P I usually go by myself so not talking to anyone either.

I'd say that being in front for Beethoven was actually very good since it's mostly string instruments on this one. A lot of solo and it was wonderful hearing it just about 10 feet away. I liked his shoes too.

I also enjoyed seeing the others play up close and comparing bow holds, instruments, shoulder rests, position wherr bow makes contact with the strings (which Ive noticed Zukerman playing a lot closer on the bridge than everyone else),etc.

Also interesting to watch their mannerisms during mini breaks (when theyre not playing). Bell likes wiping his forehead with a cloth in a manner as if promoting his handsomeness. Zukerman closes his eyes when playing and whenever he opens it he disappointingly looks at his bow like it's broken or something. Well, a bow hair did break eventually so perhaps Zukerman knew it was going to happen. I wanted to get the hair for souvenir after orchestra, but I noticed someone else look more interested with it so I just helped and let him have it.

Next stop would be Hilary Hahn mid next year. Will probably get another front seat since I consider these more like lessons by observing technical details and hearing sound of individual instruments. I would prefer to sit back if I wanted to focus on the overall music, but I'm not a big fan of classical music (please dont burn me haha)

Edited: November 18, 2017, 8:24 AM · We had front row seats, right in the center, to a David Finkiel recital. Great for about 5 minutes. Then you realize you're looking straight up his strings into his nose. After intermission we were able to move a little because there are always families who leave then.

If you want to watch the violinist's technique then your angle is actually more important than being super close. And then, there are binoculars. When we saw Yo-Yo Ma here in Blacksburg recently, he used a stand, which he looked at very rarely. (The purpose of the stand apparently is to avoid upstaging the pianist who does not memorize the parts.) But the folks sitting in a certain area would then have their view blocked partly by the stand. Might seem like a small detail until you realize that the tickets were $125 each in that area of the seating chart.

November 18, 2017, 10:28 AM · i have been purchasing season tickets for about 6 years for the chamber music series at orchestra hall in chicago. main floor seconf row center. As a violinist (matter of opinion I suppose) I love being able to see the bowing, bow placement, fingering, etc, In addition to hearing the direct sound, of the 2 to 4 instruments up there. To be at the end of the hall where you hear the sum of the direct sound and the infinite number of reflections off the walls, ceilings etc.....is generally not desired. Unless the hall happens to have really nice acoustics, those reflective sounds can add up, subtract various frequencies, and will be delayed from the direct sound, thus potnetially adding undesired reverberation, and muddying the overall sound. for orchestra music, The ideal place for me would be like 12th row center, so you are not overly close to one section....
November 18, 2017, 10:30 AM · soo expensive in the 12th row!!!
November 18, 2017, 10:33 AM · Consider for a moment the other side of the coin - you're in the first violins of a decent community orchestra playing to an audience of a few hundred, possibly in an outside chair or even leading. The first few rows of the audience are in close proximity and can see you and your playing in detail.
November 18, 2017, 12:24 PM · We like to sit front rows to watch how musicians play and communicate, especially there are violin solo in the program. For best sound, I find the back of many concert halls have the best sound. When I go to watch international violin or chamber music competitions, I would try different seats in a particular hall and have found noticeable different experiences in both sound I hear and the way I focus.
November 18, 2017, 9:47 PM · Depends on the hall. Your mileage may vary.
November 19, 2017, 5:11 AM · Better to go seat in a "bad seat", than not going at all. The best Halls can be expensive due to demand of these theoretical "best seats". Ironically enough, even though musicians generally have a keen ear, we have no problem sacrificing "sound quality" for an interesting insight into whatever players are doing up close-the lower pricing makes it even better. But again, even the cheapest, obstructed view Balcony seat is a better alternative than not attending at all, in my strong opinion.

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