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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Offers Beer and Ribs with 'Low-Cost High Culture' Theory

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Jan 05, 2015 10:39 PM EST

Perhaps New York City, and many other cultural hubs around the world, are mighty giants too big to concede to lower costs. But for the Rust Belt cities and the theory of "low-cost high culture," some faltering institutions are seeing rebounds that are changing the city and the price of high culture forever.

For the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, some changes to the price — and ethics — of attending a program of Beethoven has attracted some younger concertgoers. And as Alex MacGillis notes at Slate, the performance costs all of $15 and, get this, permits drinks in the theater.

MacGillis also highlights, though, that beyond a single performance there are several packages to subscribe to, including a 40-and-under patron deal for $75, and you even get a night with Marin Alsop (who we all know is a reigning heavyweight).

This reminds me of a certain orchestra that we reviewed on Classicalite, One World Symphony, which put on a beautiful program of Sung Jin Hong's original Breaking Bad-aria. The entire performance cost pennies compared to a program uptown at Lincoln Center.

But, this also resides in a city where other, smaller companies like Lyric Opera Baltimore are just barely clinging to the mountain. With one opera production a year, as per Tim Smith at The Baltimore Sun, donors aren't excited enough to pony up. And this proves insubstantial to keep an entire company going per year.

For the Rust Belt cities, however, a slight change in the price of culture has attracted some new patrons, even younger ones, which bodes well for exposing the genre to a new demographic and getting a younger crowd enthused about classical and opera.

Will it be enough, though, is uncertain so don't miss out on a winter sale from the BSO, allowing patrons to pick any 3 concerts for $79.

Again, will it work? Who knows.

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TagsBaltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop, Alx MacGillis, Tim Smith, Sung Jin Hong, One World Symphony

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