Classical Music

It’s Easier Than You Think!

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra is the oldest performing arts organization in the city.  It was founded in 1951, so it’s been around for 62 years.  It is chock full of amazingly talented, classically trained musicians.

That’s so very cool.  So why don’t people know about it?  Why are there so many empty seats?    Every show should be sold out.  There should be waiting lists for tickets.   People should be talking about how lucky they were to even get tickets.

Instead they ask, oh – we have an orchestra?  Yes.  We do.  And it’s a really good one, too.

So where are they?  Why aren’t they in their seats?


Pricy?  Not so much.  

Tickets are as low as 25 bucks for a single concert and there is not a bad seat in the house.

Think about it.  Fleetwood Mac is playing in Columbus on April 4.  Counting Ticketmaster fees, tickets range from $58 – $164.  $58 gets you two CSO concerts plus parking.  $164 buys you a CSO season ticket 4-pack, a ticket to the season opener, plus parking for all five of those concerts!

Diana Krall is performing on April 24.  With fees, tickets to her show range from $34 – 91. That’s two tickets plus a nice dinner.  Although, she’s really good, so get the cheap seat for her show and then two tickets for the CSO.  You can skip dinner.

Taylor Swift is playing in Columbus on May 8.  With fees, tickets range from $42 – $100 That’s at least a few CSO concert tickets and besides, the CSO is filled with musicians of a way higher caliber than Taylor Swift will ever be!

No parking?  No problem.

Aren’t sure where to park?  It’s ridiculously convenient, let me tell you.  The Statehouse is right across the street from the Ohio Theatre.  Concert night parking costs only $5 per car for the evening.  Park the car and then exit the well-lit, officer-patrolled, underground lot literally steps from the front doors of the Ohio Theatre.  Southern Theatre parking is just as conveniently located.

Maestro! Maestro! Wherefore Art Thou, Maestro?

Our Music Director, Maestro Jean-Marie Zeitouni, seems a rather reclusive fellow.

He’s very talented, well-educated and has been exposed to a lot of great music which he shares via concerts but he is definitely not a local, himself.  Well, of course not, you say: he’s Canadian.  That’s right, but when originally introduced a few years back, he was looking for places in the Short North, was happy with the fact that Columbus had an NHL team,  (Yes. In addition to a symphony, we also have a hockey team, but we’ll save that blog post for another day!) and was looking forward to moving here.

He’s the most visible person in the entire orchestra, yet he’s never actually, well, visible.  We never see him unless we buy tickets.  Trouble is, we’re not buying tickets.  Maybe if we saw him more – giving interviews, visiting students in schools of all kinds, attending public events, etc, we’d think  more often of going to the CSO.

He’s a local celebrity who just isn’t very local.  Let him out for some air, CSO.  He’s got a year left – let’s get to know him.  Maybe just maybe he’ll get to know Columbus.  Just maybe, he’ll want to stay.

And you thought PBR peaked in the 70s!  

PBR – Stephen Paulus, Alban Berg and Jean-Fery Rébel.  All three are composers featured on this season’s program. Never heard of them?  Yeah.  Me, neither.   Rebel is pretty darned awesome though.  As for Paulus and Berg?  Don’t yet know – they’re up for the last two concerts of the season, so I’ll have to let you know.

This season was primarily a season of Romantic era and 20th century classical music.  There was one concert of just Classical era music: Mozart and Haydn, directed by a guest conductor.  There was one concert of just Baroque era music: Vivaldi, also directed by a guest conductor.  Mozart made quick appearances in two other concerts. Jean-Fery Rébel had a great piece in between Rossini and Beethoven (not Beethoven’s 5th, though his 9th was the season opener – you missed a super great concert if you didn’t go!)  Es Ist Genug by J.S. Bach, makes an appearance in the final concert.  Interestingly, that little tidbit of Baroque era music translates to “It is enough.”

No really.  I could stand for some more.

Can’t fill 2,779 seats?  Pshaw!  The Shoe can fill 102,329. 

I’m not actually suggesting that we start tailgating in the Statehouse parking garage as the authorities would probably frown on it, but folks could easily have a pre-concert picnic on the beautiful lawns of the Columbus Commons just behind the Ohio Theatre, right?  OK.  Fine.  I see you want some numbers.  Well – I’ve got numbers.

The Ohio Theatre has a capacity of 2,779 and the CSO typically puts on two performances per weekend.  For special, collaborative performances, such as the Rite of Spring with the Ballet Met, a third performance is sometimes added.  The Southern Theatre has a capacity of 925 seats.  Multiply that by a typical 3-performance weekend and you have about 3,000.

Columbus proper has a population of approximately 787,000, per the 2010 census.  Add in the metro area and that jumps up to 1.9 million.  Are you telling me that out of nearly 2 million people the CSO can’t fill 3000 seats?  One night at the Ohio Theatre requires .3% of the Columbus city population to hit capacity.  The Shoe fills up with 12% of the Columbus population for an Ohio State football game.  Clearly, football is a better money maker and people here are nuts for it, but there have just got to be 2,779 people who love classical music enough to fill the seats on a Friday or a Saturday – or a whole weekend at the Southern.

This season includes 18 total performances at the Ohio Theatre for a possible sale of 50,222 tickets.  It also includes 12 performances at the Southern Theatre for a possible sale of 11,100 tickets.  That’s a total of 61,322 tickets: just over half the seats sold at each and every Ohio State football game.  7% of the population of just Columbus would fill those and to make it easier, we all know that many people buy multiple tickets.

Yes.  I know I’m comparing apples to oranges, but folks here in Columbus can picture the Shoe.  I’d love it if they could also picture the inside of the Ohio or Southern Theatre.

Check it out!

The Columbus Symphony is filled with amazingly talented musicians.  The conductor is a  ton of fun to watch.  He’s a blast, really.  These are all people who have studied and practiced for years and years and who are able to somehow eke out a living doing what they love.  How many of us can make that same claim?  How many of us are working a job that we absolutely love?

Again, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra is filled with amazingly talented musicians.  They play fabulous music.  Let’s support them, Columbus.  The next classical concert is in a few weeks – April 19-20.  Won’t you join me?  There’s plenty of space.  Come on.  It’s easier than you think!

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