March 1, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OREGON SYMPHONY POSTS BIG GAINS AT THE BOX OFFICE
Paid Attendance at Classical Concerts Climbs
Nearly 35 Percent This Season
(PORTLAND, Ore.) – Good news from the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall as the calendar hits March and the Oregon Symphony heads into the home stretch of its 2010/11 concert season: With more than two-thirds of its performances completed, the orchestra is seeing across-the board increases in attendance – with especially large improvements at its Classical concerts, where paid attendance so far this season is up nearly 35 percent over the same time last year.
With 11 of the season’s 16 Classical subscription-series programs now completed – 28 performances in total -- the orchestra has attracted an average paid audience of 1,771 per concert. That’s 34.5 percent higher – or 454 more ticket buyers at each performance, on average – than at the same point last season.
Last weekend’s concerts, at which Pink Martini founder and front man Thomas Lauderdale showed Portlanders his Classical side as soloist in performances of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto, was typical of the kind of interest the orchestra is seeing at its box office of late. The audience filled more than 76 percent of the hall’s available seats for three performances, making it the season’s best-seller so far.
Other big Classical series crowd pleasers included pianist Yuja Wang’s Oregon Symphony debut concerts in early February and the season opener with violinist Hilary Hahn, which played to 71 and 68 percent of capacity at three performances each. Ranked by percentage of capacity rather than number of tickets sold, the season champ so far was the pair of December performances of Handel’s Messiah, for which ticket buyers snapped up 95 percent of the available seats.
“It’s encouraging to see these improvements in paid attendance, and it feels great to attend classical concerts filled with enthusiastic, happy crowds,” President Elaine Calder said. “We know that people are spending carefully these days, and we’ve introduced several special opportunities this year, working with internet sites like Groupon and Travelzoo and our partners in Portland’s music community to make sure that as many people as possible have access to Oregon Symphony tickets. As a result, revenue growth isn’t yet keeping pace with the increased attendance – but we’re once again heading in the right direction.”
The orchestra’s Pops and Kids series concerts are also seeing larger crowds this year, up 6 and 8 percent respectively; overall, year-to-date attendance is up 5 percent, despite the fact that through the end of February this season’s concert calendar has contained five fewer performances than at the same time last season.
In addition, three of this season’s one-night-only “special” events – those that aren’t part of any subscription series – have drawn sell-out crowds: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma in December, the legendary balladeer Johnny Mathis on Valentine’s Day and Portland’s own rock diva, Storm Large, whose concert with the orchestra this Friday is down to its final few available tickets. Violin superstar Joshua Bell, who joined the orchestra for a special concert early in the season, and piano phenom Lang Lang, who did a solo recital in January, were not far behind, with nearly 92 percent of the available seats sold for each.
All together, the orchestra has sold $5.2 million worth of tickets so far for this season’s 67 performances. Still to come are a just-added special event June 16 featuring trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; two Pops series programs; and the five remaining Classical series programs, including Music for a Time of War on May 7 and 8, the weekend before the Oregon Symphony performs the same concert in New York at its Carnegie Hall debut.
Tickets for all remaining 2010/11 concerts, and subscriptions for the Oregon Symphony’s 2011/12 season, are on sale at its web site, OrSymphony.org.
Vice President, Media & Public Relations