Friday, March 12, 2004

Fans of symphony soon will pay more



By Janelle Gelfand
and Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Classical-music fans will pay up to 35 percent more to see the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra next season.

Facing an operating deficit of $1.45 million this season, the orchestra will raise ticket prices by double digits for the first time in at least a decade for the 2004-'05 season.

According to a plan presented to the board of trustees Thursday by symphony management and a board committee, subscriptions to the orchestra's 22-week season will rise about 25 percent next year. An eight-concert series, for example, formerly $84-$346, will be $104-$432.

Single tickets will be priced in a three-tiered structure. The lowest tier will be 25 percent higher than current prices. If music director Paavo Jarvi conducts, tickets will be 30 percent higher. Jarvi with a famous guest artist, such as violinist Midori, will cost 35 percent more.

The symphony plans to continue to offer discounted tickets. Student prices will continue at $10 and the senior-citizen rate will be 50 percent off full price.

Symphony president Steven Monder said the price increases would not erase the entire deficit. But he refused to say how much extra revenue the symphony expects to receive from the new price structure.

Subscriber Susan Hamilton, 62, of Wyoming, said she would not mind paying more.

"But if you raise it too much, you'll lose the audience," she said. "I wouldn't rely so much on raising ticket prices as I would rely on serious fund-raising (to close the gap)," she said. "We've got Paavo Jarvi here. Now we've got to keep him."

Alan Flaherty, 64, of Evendale, said the price increase won't deter him from attending concerts.

"I live with tremendous variation of rates to get on airplanes. What's going on with the symphony will not change my behavior," he said. "I like the music."

Monder said the symphony does not expect the increase to drive away customers, and that, even after the adjustment, ticket prices still are among the lowest of major symphonies across the country.

"We probably should've done this sooner, but hindsight is 20/20," Monder said.

Pops ticket prices will also go up, said marketing director Dianne Cooper, but she would not say how much. The Pops season will be announced March 21.

The symphony's 2004-'05 schedule, which kicks off in September, will appear Sunday in Tempo.

E-mail jgelfand@enquirer.com

and cpeale@enquirer.com




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