Does the price of a ticket keep you from attending classical music concerts?

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra announced Wednesday that it is lowering ticket prices to “promote greater access to concerts.” Does the price of a ticket keep you from attending classical music concerts?

Comments texted to MPR:

Attended the U of M opera last week, $20 tickets, even for children. Too much! -Doug, Duluth, MN

No, ticket selling companies’ “convenience fees” do! -Nathan, Minneapolis, MN

Comment from Facebook:

Yes, as does the fact I live in the western suburbs and do not like driving into Minneapolis at night, especially in Winter. Have you thought of holding concerts at different sites — perhaps in churches or schools — around the Twin Cities, so that Suburbanites don’t have to travel to get there? -Michael Kenneth Ireland

Share your reply in the comments.

  • Tai Koma

    Unfortunately, I have to answer yes. And I say unfortunately because I understand that the musicians need to make a living. On top of that, keeping their instruments in good shape, renting halls to play in, and traveling are all adding to the cost of the ticket. So I fully understand why the tickets cost what they do, but I have an obligation to my finances as well.

  • Lisa

    The price of a ticket DEFINITELY keeps me from attending classical music-type concerts. I majored in music and when I was in school, great performances were very accessible; however, in the “real world” it’s a lot harder to find the cash to attend live performances.

  • Barb Millard

    Sometimes, but the lack of handicapped parking is more discouraging.

  • Sherry

    It can – especially if I want to bring my family. If Ticketmaster is involved – definately. I was pricing a concert online recently and when I added in the fees the price had gone up to the equivalent of another ticket +. Also have to factor in things like parking, etc. If I’m going with a friend – just my ticket – not ususally an issue.

  • Charles

    No, the SPCO ticket prices do not keep me from attending concerts. I am a member of their Club2030 and go with my girlfriend to almost one concert per month at the Ordway. The $10 ticket price is the key to getting us there. If tickets were only regular price ($50/ticket), then it would be outside our budget.

  • Lisa

    When you add up the price of season tickets for a family of four (to the Minnesota Orchestra), the cost is overwhelming. I really want my children to have the experience of going to concerts on an annual basis and believe that there should be a discount for kids to encourage attendance (and love of classical music!)

  • Jeff Tiedman

    Being an unemployed electrician, I think the new $10 ticket would be great! However, being required to get dressed-up to sit in an audience seems a bit silly. Perhaps they could set aside one day like a ‘Casual Friday’ for regular folks like me.

  • Esme

    I’d wager that the Twin Cites area has more free and low-cost excellent classical music performances than anywhere else. Instead of the Minnesota Orchestra and Orchestra Hall, look for the Minnesota Sinfonia (; the Metropolitan Symphony (, the Minneapolis Civic Orchestra, the St Paul Civic Symphony, and all the community orchestras that perform for free. Best of all to my mind are the terrific chamber music groups that perform in venues such as Hamline’s Sundin Hall, including The Musical Offering and the Artaria Quartet. I’m retired and don’t have a lot of disposable income, but I go to a live classical music performance at least once a month, thanks to our incredibly rich music scene.

    High ticket prices are an excuse to stay home.

  • I am in complete agreement with Tai – it’s not as though it’s so terribly much money in the grand scheme of things, it just seems like a lot to me right now.

    I think that as MPR does a fabulous job promoting live events, a little nudge to get out just once or twice a year as a special event is what people like me need.

    Perhaps a more coordinated calendar that the on-air nudges can point us to, listing ALL the wonderful performances in one place, would help us save up and plan.

    I do not begrudge the musicians their living at all, but it would add up to a lot to make a regular habit of it. But you do want people like me in there every once in a while, which I think that as irregular as my work is I can swing when I really want to.

  • No. For us, it is strictly about the ensemble and what they’re performing. (But I agree with other posters who have suggested more discounted tickets for kids and students.)

  • Megan

    Ticket price is a factor for any musical/entertainment opportunity for me. My price point is about $25. I have taken advantage of several opportunities to attend the Minnesota Orchestra for about $25 (Rush tickets, etc.). That has been a great solution, and I feel both appreciated (respecting my financial health) and appreciative (respecting the amazing musical experience).

    If a favorite artist is in town, I am more likely to pay a little more. However, the once-in-a-few-years opportunity makes me more eager to fork over the cash.

  • Ann

    The concerts p resented by students and faculty at the U of M’s School of Music are FREE and fabulous! They are held in the Ted Mann Concert Hall. We have been attending them for years as high ticket prices are just not in our budget. Here’s the website for the schedule

  • Linda

    I agree with other posters about the bounty of free and inexpensive concerts in town. Time is much more of an issue than money for me right now. Anything music organizations can do to reduce the hassle factor (having to come home first and fix dinner, dressing up, getting there, parking, etc.) would be helpful for working people. I wonder how something like the Chicago Symphony’s 6:30 after-work concerts would go over here.

  • David T.

    Price is certainly a factor. My ceiling is usually $25, wh. is the cheapest rush price for MN Orchestra. When I came to town 20 years ago, rush tickets for those concerts were $4, less than a sixth the current price! The SPCO is unusual in offering lost-cost tickets for concerts. I’m devoted to both organizations, but price is certainly a factor in how often I attend, what I choose to hear and where I sit.

  • Shirley

    Yes, price is definitely a factor. I understand it is expensive to present a concert, but price often makes concets seem to be the privilege of the elite, rather than the fare of the common person. I commend the SPCO for finding ways to offer lower prices…I’ll be attending. College and University free performances are also great ways to save.

    Another way to modify the price scale: Great soloists and orchestra will accompany virtuoso choir Chorus Polaris in a singular performance of Handel’s oratorio JUDAS MACCABEUS which will be FREE FOR STUDENTS AND THOSE UNDER 21 this Saturday, December 5 at First Lutheran Church, 40th and Tyler, in NE Minneapolis.

  • As a professional musician (one who has even performed with the SPCO), price is a factor. I think programming is the first thing I consider (I have to want to hear a particular program in the first place), but price comes second. I’ve lived in the Cincinnati area where rush tickets were 8$ for all major organizations, and in San Francisco, where the rush opportunities were higher priced. Obviously I was more apt to go out when the prices were lower.

    For Jeff’s comment above, I don’t think that there’s any kind of dress code these days for classical shows–that’s been gone for years. Part of my personal mission as an artist is to make art more populist in America. The separation of performer and audience these days is waning.

  • Mae

    It is not the price of the ticket. It is the FEAR of doing something wrong. Clapping at the wrong time, not understanding what is ‘expected’ of me as a classical audience member. If I am going to spend money for entertainment I want to clap, cheer, & hoot whenever I want. I don’t want to sit quietly in my seat waiting to see how others politely react. Ten years ago at a MN Orchestra concert I saw a patron admonished for clapping at the wrong time. ISH. That was enough to turn me off from live classical music for life. Money is NOT the factor the limits accessibility. It is the pressure to ‘know’ the right way to behave.

  • sarah

    Yes, it does become prohibitive to attending. I like to bring people along when I go out. I don’t know anyone who can afford the admission so I only go once a year or so. $20 for 2 people is easier to do…but then maybe it will always be sold out.

  • John

    How come the issue of price always comes up as an issue in the arts (museums, classical music, etc.) but never when it comes to rock concerts, sporting events, video games etc?

    Hearing and seeing the greatest works created by man is still the best bargain in town. It costs much more to watch Amy Winehouse throw up on stage, or buy a gaming console that lets you carjack or blow up aliens, or see over-the-hill boomer rockers strut around on stage like they’re still rebellious 20-year-olds instead of billionaires with prostate issues.

  • Emiliano Chagil

    Speaking from a low-income Latino, yes. Yes is the answer to the question about the price of a ticket keeps me from attending any concert. But the issue is more complex. Our society not too long set high standars and classical music was for high society. How others can fit in? Lower the price of tickets could be a great incentive to attend. More importantly, clossical music should be accessible to everyone in society. Classical music could be real good for children from low income families. It’s peaceful and invites positive thinking. Let’s make tickets more affordable. – Thanks!

  • Gabrielle Fata

    not if the theatre does STUDENT RUSH TICKETS like ocpac!!

  • Terry

    “If I am going to spend money for entertainment I want to clap, cheer, & hoot whenever I want.”

    And that is why many of us no longer want to attend live concerts, because so many people confuse an opera performance with watching TV at home. There is so much more to a performance than just the music: watching the musicians, enjoying the echo and quality of the sound, observing the conductor. But when this is interrupted by texters and talkers and fidgeters and folks who want to hoot between movements of a symphony… well, I guess their inability to learn a couple basic rules of ‘music listening manners’ means that many of us will have to stay home. I won’t spend my money sitting next to someone who cares only about themselves. Maybe RAISING the price would deter those who would really rather be at a football game…

  • John G. Gibbs

    Our biggest challenge in the Park Rapids area, especially when gas was $4 per gal., is distance, and working out a place to stay in the Twin Cities. However, price is also an important challenge. We are fortunate in retirement years to have received gift certificates from my elder daughter and her husband for the MN Orchestra.

  • Maggie

    Generally, I can find a good deal (reasonable for my financial situation) on orchestra and chamber tickets, but a few years ago I had to give up my annual subscription for opera seats (I bought season tickets for over 10 years) because of the gratuitous price increases each year. I very much miss the opera, but can occasionally get to a rush performance at the Ordway.Usually now I go to the smaller operatic performances found around the Cities.

  • Rob

    Right now I think budget is an issue for just about everyone, but there are excellent classical music concerts in the Twin Cities that are absolutely free. Wayzata Symphony Orchestra recently performed Beethoven’s 9th for free and it was amazing!

  • Carlton

    I think a lack of intellectual sophistication coupled with proud stubbornness that makes one unwilling to fess up and admit it is why most Americans shun classical music. Funny how we always hear the cost is a major factor here but not for pop muisc–or designer jeans cut full of holes. People rarely say they can’t make it to the latest pop sensation’s concert because of high ticket prices. That $100 a month cable TV bill for dozens of channels of garbage never comes under scrutiny. Isn’t that odd?

  • james

    “News Q” asks the question. What does the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra have to do with news? Even Tiger Woods is more relevant than this.

  • weston

    Yes. The cost of attending arts performances has always prevented my family from going there. We would love to be able to support and participate with the arts, both with our money, and our presence. However, the pricing structure eliminates them as an option.

    Separate issue: it would be wise to provide “cry rooms” for families with babies and young children. You need to indoctrinate children with culture while they are young, that way they will become life-long supporters, while allowing the parents to attend a performance.

    You who are in positions of authority in the arts need more imagination in how you – to put it crudely, yet realistically – market your “product”. If you want to service just a specific sort of participant, well go ahead.

  • Carole

    Tickets are only one component of attending a concert. Parking, gas (driving into the city) etc. also have to be considered. The total of everything ads up to too much today. I used to have season tickets, but have given them up with retirement and the economy.

  • Robert Langford

    Price certainly influences my choice of entertainment. I am a subscriber to the SPCO and have found that they have reasonable prices and accomodating marketing. As I result, I will go to more of their concerts than either the Minnesota Orchestra or the Minnesota Opera, both of which are over priced. I suspect I would attend more Minnesota Orchestra events if the price were lower. I have taken advantage of special deals, but really resist the premium prices. I think the Opera is simply beyond value. The prices have simply gone so far out of line, I have not considered them for a number of years. One thing that really irritates me is the variable price of parking, and that is simply an irritant, not a control function.

  • Naun

    Let’s have some perspective here. You can get decent seats at any St Paul Chamber Orchestra performance for $11 (that’s *before* they lower the prices next year). You can book online without a surcharge. If you want a coffee at intermission at the Ordway it will set you back $1.50. Basically, if you go to a movie and buy popcorn you’ve waived your right to complain about SPCO ticket prices.

  • J Smith

    Two issues —

    1. The “elitism” by classical music traditionalists. The ideas about the sacredness and whatever of classical music, that it should be enjoyed in complete silence, silent contemplation, and then you clap at the end whether it was good or bad, only have arisen during the late 19th to 20th century. In the time of the master composers like Bach, Mozart, Haydn, etc., orchestral concerts were exciting entertainment, where people could eat and drink and converse with their friends, and watch the orchestra if they wanted. They could walk around the hall and clap and cheer when they were moved to. If it’s about the music, then people should be free to react to it however they do — if that means clapping after an impressive cadenza or cheering for a wonderful first movement or whatever, that should be ok. Music listening manners are BS, basically.

    2. Price/etc — the United States is unique among developed western nations with a tradition of classical/art music performance in that most of the funding comes from private donors/foundations, and ticket sales/earned revenue. In Europe, orchestras, operas, etc. are primarily government-sponsored, as they view the expenditure of money on the arts as a worthwhile societal/cultural endeavor. The US should adopt this idea… people really should not complain about taxation, especially on the wealthiest, because US tax rates are pretty low overall compared to similar nations, and because everyone who can afford to paying in money on things that are beneficial for everyone is not such a crazy idea.

  • Evan Hazard

    From the comments above, I gather that Minn. Orchestra prices are considerably higher than SPCO’s. If we lived in the Cities, that would influence our choice of concerts. We live in Bemidji, so the major factor is cost of travel and lodging. We now can sometimes stay with a friend for free, and may take in more TC events than heretofore, including the excellent (and inexpensive) productions of the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company.

    Living in Bemidji, we are also privy to concerts by the Bemidji Symphony Orchesta, an excellent mostly unpaid group with an outstanding music director, Dr. Beverly Everett. Tickets are cheap, but we contribute, so get complimentary tix. BSU also has outstanding vocal and instrumental musical groups (BSO is independent of BSU, though some faculty are in BSO, including the biology dept. chair who is principal flute). Other groups independent of BSU include the Bemidji Baroque Ensemble and the Bemidji Chorale (Christmas concert this Sunday, 3 and 7 pm, First Lutheran, free will offering. Metro area visitors are welcome).

  • Courtney Sinner

    Being a classical music fan, especially the SPCO and MN Orch which I grew up listening to, I tried to go as much as I could while I was a student at the U of M since they offer some student discounts and when you go for a matinee it can be a little cheaper. For the rest of the general public, though, I think high ticket prices are one of the main reasons that more people (especially young people) don’t attend these concerts. Even though ticket discounts are offered for students, 99% of attendees are over the age of 65 — mostly retired folk who can afford to go and have any kind of vested interest. If the orchestras want a bigger attendance, especially a younger generation, offer more discounts (or at least advertise your discounts on college campuses because none of my other interested-in-classical friends had any idea it existed) and also more free concerts around town and at area schools to pique kids’ interest (not sure actually if they do this already).

    Ok, there’s my two cents.

  • lawrence

    i’ve always believed that people are going to pay for what they want to hear. if you play things people enjoy, you’re going to get a response and i dont mean the “classical majority.” Dont be afraid to do more “pop” programs such as “an evening with john williams and beethoven” where you preform say..the indiana jones suite and a beethoven symphony. or do a hard hitting stravinksy followed by a chamber work!

    just be more creative in programming!!! why must the music stop at intermission? why not have a local new chamber group or chours to play something different, or even new? there are so many things that you can do in an evening….but dont stop stressing the importance of good advertising.

  • Robynn

    No, the price of tickets does not keep me from attending concerts. As others have commented, you pay for what you get. And I am more than happy to support local artists. It would be nice if more of the money of a cost of a ticket went straight to the musicians themselves. But I do understand that it takes money to run an operation of the quality we have here in MN.