Finally, Somebody Who Had a Good December


It is a truth widely acknowledged that the economy lately has resembled nothing more than a flushing toilet. It is another truth widely acknowledged that the audiences for classical music ain't what they used to be.

But the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra managed to buck both those trends last month, showing a 12.5 percent increase in revenue and a 3 percent increase in attendance over its 2007 holiday programs. That comes out to $737,000, generated by 17,800 concertgoers, an average of 2,000 per performance. The symphony even managed to sell out Powell Hall five times.

Adam Crane, SLSO's director of communications, attributes this increase to a combination of programming and affordable pricing.

"We had gospel concerts and traditional holiday concerts, with The Wizard of Oz [a showing of the film accompanied by the orchestra] in the middle, and our New Year's Eve concert was a big success," Crane says.

Crane is uncertain whether other orchestras had holidays as happy. "What I've noticed," he says, "is that a lot of orchestras go on vacation during the holidays. We don't. Our orchestra stayed here, which I think increased its appeal."

SLSO hopes to maintain its success by keeping ticket prices low and offering special incentives, including $10 student tickets and a winter package that allows concertgoers to see as many programs as they wish for $99.

"Obviously, with the economy, we're watching things closely," Crane says, "but the second half of the season is usually better."

- Aimee Levitt

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