It's easy to see a lot of great classical music in the Bay Area without spending a lot of money, however. In general, you will be able to hear the music well from the lower-priced seats in the house, so it's reasonable to economize by buying less-expensive tickets. There are many excellent choruses (amateur, semi-pro, and professional) whose concerts cost no more than $20 to $30 per seat for general admission. Most organizations make discounts available for seniors and students. Same-day rush seats are available from many organizations, too. San Francisco Opera has $15 rushes for students, $30 for seniors and military personnel, plus $10 to $15 for standing-room tickets. Berkeley Opera offers side seats for $16 [2009: might be $18] one hour before the performance. San Francisco Symphony's center terrace seats are sold for $15 to $20 two hours before the performance; additionally, student rushes may be available for $20. (Call the organization's box office the day of the performance to ask about the availability of rush tickets.)I will reiterate that Old First is about the best bargain in town for great chamber and contemporary music. Right up there with Old First would come programs at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where the immensely talented faculty and students are on glorious display, conveniently located in Civic Center down the street from the opera and SFS. Stanford, Cal State East Bay (former Hayward), Mills College, San Francisco State, and UC Berekeley all have good music departments that put on good concerts. Don't forget San Francisco Symphony's current sale (all seats $25 or $55 through Monday, Feb. 2) or their Wednesday morning open rehearsals. Watch for organ recitals, at venues such as Grace Cathedral, and for the concert series at Seventh Avenue Presbyterian and St. Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco; the parallels in the East Bay might be St. John's on College and St. Mark's on Bancroft.
Some organizations simply feature low prices: For example, Old First Church in San Francisco offers a well-programmed series, Old First Concerts, featuring excellent local and visiting musicians for the bargain price of $15 general admission and $12 seniors/students. University and conservatory music departments often have inexpensive or free concerts given by faculty members and students.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Alex Ross has written a New Yorker article about seeing great music on the cheap. A few years ago, I wrote an article on why ticket prices are high; it concluded with some suggestions about how to stretch your concert dollar (note that some of the prices cited below have very likely changed since 2006):