Cheapskate. Yes, over there in the ugly Hawaiian shirt you bought for a dollar at a sidewalk sale, I’m talking to you. You think classical music concerts are too expensive? Wrongo! For starters, you can see a show at either of the great Philadelphia temples of classical music — the Academy of Music (for opera) and the Kimmel’s Verizon Hall (for the Philadelphia Orchestra) — for about the same cost as an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet in West Philly, as long as you are not afraid of heights. The acoustics in the nosebleed seats are surprisingly good at both venues.
For a slight splurge, consider the phenomenal series of concerts presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. This is as-good-as-it-gets music-making, an extraordinary season packed with awe-inspiring musicians from around the world. The best seat in the house will set you back 24 bucks.
Better yet, there are hundreds, no really, hund-reds of free, high quality concerts every season in Philadelphia. First stop, the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music, where multiple student recitals take place every week, at 1726 Locust St. These kids are exceptionally talented, and the chances are good that you will hear an artist who will go on to an international career. Ever heard of Lang Lang?
Now, up to North Broad Street, home to Temple’s vibrant Boyer School of Music and Dance. Boyer’s terrific students also perform plenty of recitals, but the huge roster of free events here also includes programs by the excellent faculty, open rehearsals and a fascinating series of master classes by guest artists. And since Boyer is a multi-discipline performing arts school, there are a number of collaborative events, including outstanding full-blown productions from Temple Opera Theater.
Penn does not have a music-performance department, but it still maintains a robust roster of free musical events, with a decided tilt toward new music, much of it centered on the work of famous faculty and emeritus composers, as well as compelling new works from the composition students. The series in the intimate and acoustically superb Rose Recital Hall are especially worth looking out for.
So there; no excuses not to hear live music this year. There is nothing quite like it. Just don’t wear that ugly shirt.