Meri’s Musical Musings

The soaring cost of classical concert ticket prices

Posted on: February 12, 2012

I get invited to go to a lot of concerts through friends in the city I live in. However, as much as I’d like to support them, the cost of many of them is quite a concern. Less than 10 years ago, it was easy to find professional concerts that were $20 or less per ticket. Currently, I see few concerts that cost less than $25 per adult, many costing $30-$40 per adult, and occasionally even more. While some of these concerts have pieces and artists or composers that interest me, spending $60 or more for two people to attend a concert is a bit much.

While I do understand that artists do need to make a living, being one as well, I also wonder how many potential concert-goers are turned off going to concerts because of the high costs. And how many artists, especially lesser-known ones, wonder why they generally get small audiences, sometimes 15 or fewer people. While I’ve seen artists who keep their ticket prices affordable (at under $20 per adult) who make several hundred for one performance and have an audience that fills most of the venue they are performing.

High concert ticket prices will turn off less-financially well off people, especially those that have a keen interest in the arts. I have several friends who enjoy classical music but definitely won’t spend more than $25 or so on a concert ticket, unless it’s a major artist. And, almost ironically, when a big-name artist comes to do concerts in this city with a chamber ensemble, the tickets are often quite affordable. For example, a few summers ago I saw the clarinetist Karl Leister at a university concert hall for $20 per adult, and my husband came. I would have expected at least $30-$35 per ticket. And the concert was just about sold out; my husband and I got among the very last few tickets available! Plus the concert was fantastic!

On the other hand, I often see amateur and student groups charging at least $20 a ticket, and sometimes as much as $30. Sometimes even schools that have an average quality music program charge $15 per adult to attend, though it is usually around $10. Only for the elite youth orchestra that a couple of my most successful clarinet students play, or have played, in could I justify a little more than $20 for a ticket, which play the pieces better than some so-called professional orchestras.  I do not want to pay to listen to bad tone quality, missed entrances, overly-long concerts (especially in some schools), too many speeches, works that bore the audience, and poor concert behaviour. Back when I was a teen, many school concerts were free or only cost $5; only the best ones could probably get away with charging $10 or even a bit more. And the elite band and amateur ensembles were around $15 a ticket.

Sorry for the rant. It’s just an issue that been bugging me for several years that I needed to get off my chest.

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  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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